1. I look at my students differently. When they enter my room, I see my students not just as my students, but as someone’s kids. They are someone’s whole world and they are special. And when I stop myself and remember this idea, I also think about my own kids. I think of my own kids walking into their classrooms and hope that their teachers are thinking the same things about them.
2. I look at parents differently. When I first became a parent, I remember getting the biggest slap in the face – a dose of reality and shame for thinking I had parenting all figured out before I had any kids of my own. I promised to never judge another parent again. Ok, well, I’m not perfect. I slip here and there, but there has been a drastic change in how I view and understand parents. If they need to take their kids out of school for what they consider an important event, let them. If a parent writes a note stating they didn’t get to homework because of this, that or the other thing, so be it. Parents need to be part of the team and maybe if we remember to treat them that way, our students will find more success.
3. I never assume I know it all. All families struggle with their own set of issues. You just never know what a student is dealing with when they get home. And I’m not just talking about the real heavy-duty stuff that you find out from the guidance counselor. I’m talking about the day to day struggles such as a sick family member or little to no food at home or the smaller things like a disrupted morning schedule. There are many things going on in our students’ minds and lives. We need to be caring enough to understand that.
4. I assign less busy work for homework and try to make things more purposeful. I’ve been struggling with the idea of homework a lot over my 14 years of teaching, but not nearly as much as when I became a mom of school-aged children. The time I have at home with my own kids is so precious and I know it it the same for all families. We are busy and rushed. And I’m just starting to see how much time is taken up by sports, music lessons, basic playtime and other appointments as my children are scratching the surface of after school activities. I’m not a fan of busy work anyway, but I’ve been trying even harder over the last few years to make homework more purposeful and manageable for my students and their families. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that homework is a necessity to some degree (that will be another post), but we need to be realistic in how much and what type. Kids need time with their families, parents need time with their kids.
5. Home/School communication is key. It was the mantra of our field hockey team in high school, “Communication is the Key to Success.” Not only do I try to keep in close communication with my class as a whole, but individually as well. Again, I’m not perfect, but I try. If I sense an issue, I want to be in contact with a parent. I return phone calls and emails promptly and hope that my children’s teachers would do the same. Like I said before, parents and teachers need to act like a team to ensure students’ success.
I guess this list can be boiled down to one word: Compassion. I’ve become a much more compassionate teacher since becoming a mom. Sure, I have my days… But the truth is, I do reflect a lot on how I treat the people in my job and at worst, I try real hard to see things from all perspectives and do the right thing out of love. That’s what this job is really all about!
Now, go and enjoy your day with your students and enjoy your time with your families. And to all the moms out there – Happy Mothers’ Day!