May 25, 2012 – the day AFTER the last day of school three (almost 4) years ago when I should’ve been able to sleep in after making it through an entire school year AND a whole day past my due date – was when Jacob decided to make his arrival. The journey was amazing and he has taught me so much in his few years on this planet. I have been amazed at the lessons I have learned about teaching by becoming a mom. In honor of Mother’s Day, here is a quick post on some of the lessons about teaching I have learned by becoming a mom.
1.) Everybody is somebody’s baby. I’ve always known this but it was more towards the back of my mind instead of at the very front of it. I always consider if the student in front of me was my own child with a teacher, how would I want that teacher to treat him. You would think that this would make me softer (an oftentimes it does). However, in some situations I can tell that a parent would want me to stand the firm ground to help their baby, their everything, reach their full potential.
2.) Mental illness should not be diminished or underestimated. I was surprised when I had my son by the “baby blues” that I experienced. Looking back at it now, I probably was going through a mild form of depression. Everything in my world just seemed different – and not in that lovey dovey way that people make it sound sometimes. I’m grateful for my support systems in place. Given just this small experience with this I have a new appreciation for what some of my students experience, either personally or with a parent, and how difficult it can be to learn in those circumstances. It doesn’t mean that we need to give up and wait it out but rather find ways to cope and ways to support each other to make learning possible. Also, for students who are either personally dealing with going through a mental illness or have parents that are, it is vitally important to get them the help they need so that they can once again become productive.
3.) Live in THIS moment. This has been a huge thing for me. Students can learn something EVERYDAY if we provide them with the opportunity to do so. In the past, when May would roll around I would turn into not the best version of my teaching self (have you ever met Worksheet Wanda). Now, I strive to be as good (or better) than I was on the first day of class because you will never get this moment back again. I remember looking forward to my son being able to sit up on his own, not knowing that when he did he would no longer want to be held by me anymore :(. Although I love his independence I miss those moments of being needed. The same thing is true for the students in front of me. They deserve my best every moment because today’s irritation will fade and no one remembers you for “that awesome worksheet you gave them”.
4.) Play. Now, I’ve ALWAYS been a teacher who likes to play a review game or two – heck, I used to even run PD sessions on the topic :). However, I have learned that it is important to strive to make play an important part of the day. Learning is easy when you are having fun.
5.) Some things, like homework, don’t have to happen everyday. When I first had my son, I gave him a bath EVERYDAY. Then, he got an awful case of cradle cap and the doctor recommended only giving him a bath once or twice a week. Once I changed up that routine, the cradle cap lessened. Who would’ve thunk? When I first started teaching I believed that homework needed to occur every night. I’ve come to find out that I have better results of better and more mathematical thinking when I DON’T assign it every night. Crazy. Who would’ve thunk?
6.) You gotta take a lot of outtakes before you get the best one. Everybody compliments me on the pictures they see on Facebook. They think my kids are so photogenic and always smiling. I agree that I think they are pretty cute. However, only my husband knows (and now all of you will know) my secret – I take about 10 shots for every one I post online. I just click-click-click-click-click then delete-delete-delete-delete until I find one that is post worthy. Same thing is now more true for my students when it comes to assessments. For quizzes, if students improve from the quiz to the test, I copy the test percentage in for the quiz and for tests I allow re-testing. If students are willing to retake a test, I will go through the arduous process of making a different form of it to take because students deserve the opportunity to put their best out there regardless of how long it takes.