Friday, December 17, 2010

Teaching and Motherhood

Teaching and motherhood are more similar than anyone could realize. Both are subjected to an incredible amount of judgment. Perhaps it's because both play such a key role in developing children and adolescents into functioning adults. Both parenthood and teaching are vital to creating a well-rounded, successful adult. We also are given our charges with little choice in the selection and have to roll with the surprises that come up. The more I think about it, the more obvious the similarities are.

Infinite Patience Is A Must
Teachers and mothers are both required to have an infinite amount of patience. To show that your frustration or anger may be bubbling up is considered "bad". The thing to remember is that teachers and mothers are both human. We have emotions. Sometimes, your emotions are going to bubble over. You have to realize when that is going to happen and when you need to step out for a second. At school, I step behind my desk and breathe deeply counting to ten. At home, I go to the only gated area of our home, the kitchen, and do the same thing. Admitting the human aspect can be seen as a "weakness" for both mothers and teachers. It makes no sense. There are very few other professions where one is expected to be completely perfect at every single moment.

Competition Is Natural
Both teaching and motherhood naturally lead to competition. My kid walked at 11 months! Oh really? Mine walked at 10 months. Did I say 11 months? I meant 9 months! No! 8 months! SHE CAME OUT OF THE WOMB WALKING! My students are doing amazing this unit. Our kids are so wonderful at our school. I feel bad for those poor teachers who have to deal with average children. The problem with this is that while both jobs have a natural tendency for competition, the competition just makes it worse. Both mothers and teachers can benefit by not competing and working together with their peers. Remember that old adage "It takes a village..."? It's still true. We still need to work together and end the Mommy Olympics.

You Can't React With Violence...
...Even if they hit you first. My toddler has bit me and hit me. It sucks. Sometimes he's just playing and then smack, I catch one across the face. Slapping your kid back is obviously considered poor form. Two weeks ago, a student was five minutes tardy to my class. I opened my door just enough to tell him he couldn't come in when he pushed me out of the way and called me a bitch. I obviously couldn't call him an asshole and then push him back out the door. This is one of those times when you have to have infinite patience. How many adults in other professions have to constantly keep their cool no matter what abuse is heaped upon them?

You Have To Celebrate The Small Victories
Kids operate on their own time table. You can't expect massive gains in days. You have to celebrate the small steps toward improvement. When my son was a baby, he obviously didn't sleep through the night. To help keep my sanity, I celebrated him sleeping six hours straight, from 11pm-5am, as sleeping through the night. My students are the same way. Okay, so no one did perfect on the District Assessment. However, we made gains on the ORQ. Next time we can work on the multiple choice, but for now let's celebrate what did go well instead of always focusing on the negative.

It's Okay To Be Boring
You can't make every single moment exciting. You just can't. Sometimes you have to do some boring stuff because you have to. Doing the dishes and laundry is hardly exciting for your kid. They'll get over it. They don't need to have first class entertainment every waking moment. You'll quickly tire yourself out trying to keep everything awesomely exciting at every moment. Teaching is the same way. Sometimes you have to take an assessment with a bubble sheet. Sometimes you have to just do grammar. Sometimes you just have to do notes. Life isn't always entertaining. Boredom is a part of life and that's okay.

Everyone Thinks It's Easier Than It Is
People who have not taught or are not parents always seem to have this crazy notion that both of them are cake jobs. But you get the summers off! You're off work by 2:30pm! You get two weeks off in December and another week for Spring Break! Mothers don't have to go to work! All they have to do is play with their kid all day. Geez, I thought you loved your kid. Why is it hard if you love your kid?! It's all fun and games until they have to try out your job for a day and they are literally shocked at how hard it is.

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