- Reduction of Homework Before becoming a mom, I had an assumption that a teacher who gave more homework was a better, more demanding teacher. I can remember a parent and student stopping by my classroom after school, to confront my practice. I defended it saying it was only going to prepare them for higher level math and the real-world.
I no longer agree. Families need family time. Kids need to play. While some homework can help to reinforce or deepen a concept, routine work, just for the sake of homework, in no longer a component of my classroom. I now understand that even the smallest shoebox book report, that I used to assign as an elementary teacher, could burden a family who has limited resources of time, money and/or skill. If homework is not essential, it is not assigned.
- Increased Empathy for Families Before becoming a mom, I made gross judgments about parents and families. How could they forget about picture day, to sign the permission form, etc. How hard was reading 30 min/night?
My son just started full-day kindergarten. From the second he gets in my house in the evening, until the lights turn out, is around 3 hours. In that time, I go over any forms, unpack lunch, wash his clothes, feed him dinner, get him to soccer practice, drive home, give him a shower, lay out his clothes, read two books, brush teeth, get vitamins…. and finally turn out the lights.
It is a lot on our minds and when anything out of the normal arises, it throws our daily routine. I now know the feeling of loving a child and advocating for them, at a greater level for me personally, than I did before.
Now, when a parent complains or is overly critical, I take a step back and understand that the root is simply based in love and genuine concern. I have a greater empathy for their situation than I ever had before.
- Less Hours At Work: I used to spend a great amount of hours at work. I was able to meet the needs’ of students before school, after school, etc. Now, I have to get home to fulfill my role as a mom. I can no longer stay at school creating intricate lesson plans, contemplating lessons and attending after school sporting events. I now have to work very efficiently and prioritize all of the activities I need to finish before day’s end. Though stressful and overwhelming, efficiency has helped to streamline my teaching process and get rid of anything that was unnecessary.
- I Handle Throwing-Up Well: When a kid starts to get sick, I know all the symptoms and how I might respond to attend to their situation while keeping them calm. If they are crying, I have strategies to calm them down and I know how to tell them “I am here for you.”
Until I had tantruming toddlers, I used to make judgments about my students and how there was either something wrong in their family, had a medical condition or were spoiled. Now, I know that explosions of emotion are verily normal. Crying and expressing honest emotion is a healthy component of any person’s life. Thus, I am more aware and reactive in a positive manner.
- I have redefined my job: Before becoming a mom, I used to blame families for a lack of teaching responsibility and manners. I would rebel and say “that is not my job to teach that.” Now, realizing how little time I get to spend with my children, and how often their teachers see them, I realize that parents trust in me to teach their child life skills in addition to mathematical content. I am here to support families and work with them, rather than blame them for their own inadequacies. I want my child’s teachers to do the same. Help to form them into amazing people and work along side me in cultivating a tremendous person. I know that everyone has a role and we must all be equally supportive of one another. So in a way, I help raise 142 children where only two are the ones I birthed.
What I have learned in the years since becoming a mom:
I taught for three years before I became a mother. In some ways, those were the best three years of my teaching career. I got to spend more time fully dedicated to the career field. But, what I have given up in time, I have made up for with a deeper understanding of how families operate.
This isn’t to say that you need to be a mom/dad to be a good teacher. But for my personal story, becoming a mom helped to remove some of my fixed opinions, it humbled me, and reduced the amount of judgment I placed onto others.
I’m one check away from my family struggling financially. I work three jobs just to support them, and there are days where if someone judged me critically, I would become saddened. I give them everything I have with whatever time we get to spend together.
The gifts my children give me are more than just their love and laughter. It is also a sense of wisdom that experiences and perspectives are deeper than I once thought. My children have taught me that all children are lovable and that almost all families are doing, what in their heart, they think to be best for their child.
Thank you to my children for making me a better teacher and for opening my eyes to the reality that families are much more complex than I had ever imagined.