There was nothing else I ever wanted to do than be a teacher. The thought of standing up in front of a classroom giving students new knowledge was such an honorable goal in my life. I played school with my stuffed animals when my siblings stopped participating. I taught Sunday school. I even babysat knowing that I was really in the role of instructor.
I knew becoming a nurse wouldn’t work, because all my common sense disappears at the sight of blood. I just knew I had to work with children who would hug me all day long and learn to write their letters and skip count because of me. And I’d accomplish this all while wearing a beautiful flowing dress and heels.
And one day, I’d be this amazingly organized and fashionable mom taking care of her own live in students. Motherhood was, in my immature and unsuspecting mind, just an extension of a classroom. I’d teach my own children things, too. How to brush their teeth and why eating vegetables was very important, for example. All while dressed in a cute dress and…you guessed it, heels.
Fast forward 20 years later and her I am…educator and mom. One thing I had right….being a teacher prepared me to be a mom.
Both scenarios have little tiny helpless human beings crying for your attention and then not knowing what to do with it.
First, teaching taught me that each of my children have very distinctive personalities and what I did needed to directly link with my daughters’ communication style. Victoria was the one I could reason with and convince to brush her teeth with a compliment and a hug. Na’Via on the other hand, could not care less about the approval of others when it came to her hygiene or eating habits. She’s my logical child. With her, I had to state clearly “If you don’t brush your teeth they will fall out and you will not be able to eat your food.” It worked. So I thought.
Secondly, teaching students with special needs, is another twist that prepared me for motherhood. That lesson demanded patience and collaboration. Na’Via knew it was necessary to brush her teeth but hated it. I needed help by the time she was 6. She was diagnosed with Autism and her therapist gave me several strategies until we found the right one. A visual representation of a mouth. Why didn’t I think of that?! Teachers collaborate and ask for help ALL the time!
Another valuable motherhood lesson teaching taught me was sometimes it’s not the students failing, it’s me. Consistent reevaluation is a must. If I gave an assessment and a majority of my students didn’t do well, I automatically know I need to go back and redo something. Same thing with, cooking or buying clothes for my girls. They loved my spaghetti but hated the chili. Why? One had beans the other didn’t. Be flexible and remember what works.
And my favorite lesson was repetition. How many times a day would I say. “Copy this down?” “No talking.” Or my personal favorite “Yes this will be on the test.”
At home it’s, “It’s past your bedtime.” “ Pick up your dirty clothes, and put them in the hamper that is on the floor…right beside where you dropped them…on the floor.”
Wait, I think that’s patience again.
Either way, I see so many similarities with in the two scenarios. Sometimes my students mistakenly call me Mom or even Grandma (my eyes grow big on that one). It reminds me that teacher and mother (or grandmother) are synonyms for caregiver. I spend my entire 24 hours accepting the charge of guiding little people to independency.
Parents and educators protect their charges. We see an extraordinarily productive future for them. We get on their nerves purposely to make sure they are making the best decisions. We model life for them so they can see what the ups and downs looks like. We encourage their creativity. We prepare them for a world full of problems that they are smart enough to resolve. We pass on knowledge and the ability to question why or how.
And that’s what I loving do for my students and my own children. Minus the heels.