Writing my way through the school year!

“Hi, my name is Lisa, and I am a teacher-parent”.  Sigh. I remember when I started teaching in 1984, my principal had a son that was in Special Ed. I recall all too well my reaction,

“How could her son be in Special Ed, she is a principal of the gifted program?” I, (in my naivety),was quick to judge this woman, who had probably done all she could to help her child. I assumed that because she was an educator, that her children should be, not just smart, but supersmart! Able to leap academic standards in a single bound because Mom was a TEACHER! How many times, before I had my own kids, did I judge teacher-parent kids (Pssstt…did you know her Mom’s a teacher?)

Fast forward, and  children of my own, and my view has changed drastically! I have come to realize that being a teacher-parent doesn’t make your child different from anyone else’s. An educator’s child can suffer the same pitfalls as everyone else’s. There is no magic teacher dust that you sprinkle on them at birth that makes them immune to what life has to offer.

My youngest has been struggling since he was in preschool. He wasn’t the best behaved child. He’s wasn’t the “disrespectful, foul-mouthed, fighting child”, he was the “can’t keep his butt in the seat, trying to make people laugh” kind of child. The year I had him in the same school where I was a new teacher, another teacher saw him walking with me and said, “That’s YOUR child?” He was only in the first grade. I have to admit, I was embarrassed, even more so because I was a teacher. I expect so much from other people’s children, and mine was not behaving, what was wrong with me? I was a teacher, damn it!

Every year was a struggle with him. I never made excuses or tried to have him wiggle out of consequences. Every year, when his teachers found out I was a teacher, he would hear, “And your mother’s a teacher?”
I would sit him down and say the same thing, “M, I’m a teacher, this is what I expect from my students. This is what I need from you when you go to school. Do you know how embarrassing it is for me to be a teacher and you behave this way?” I don’t think it mattered to him as much as it mattered to me. I was the only one embarrassed when I sat down at parent-teacher conferences and felt I was being judged.

He’s a teenager now, and is no longer that child. I stopped getting phone calls and emails a long time ago. But he’s not where I want him to be academically. I guess, I don’t believe he is where I think a teacher’s child should be. I find myself thinking back and wondering if I spent enough time with him? Did I spend more time worrying about other people’s children then my own?  Did I place an unfair burden on him being the child of an educator, wanting more?  What strategy could I have used that would have produced a different effect?

My husband assures me that I am a great parent, and that I did all that could be done for him, teacher or not. I wish I could believe him. After all, I’m a teacher, shouldn’t I expect more?

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Comments on: "Being a Teacher-Parent : What Should We Expect From Our Own Children?" (7)

  1. One of my common comments to [most] parents with struggling children: “This is NOT a result of something you did wrong.” I go on to explain that, in my 16 years of teaching, I’ve had plenty of siblings come through my classroom. Most often, I have a hard time believing the two siblings came from the same genetic pool. Kids are kids. They make their own choices, have their own personalities, and have their own personal challenges.

    Upbringing can exacerbate problems, but it’s not our role to judge the extent to which they do – unless we are perfect parents ourselves :). Our job is to do the best we can with each student who enters our classroom.

    Janet | expateducator.com

  2. We had our open school night this week and I commented to the young pregnant teacher who shares my room that I hoped I was alive in 20 years when she was on the other side of raising an adolescent. . She was wondering why parents couldn’t make their kids…..(fill in the blank- do hw, study, not date the wrong people etc.).

    Because you can’t.
    You do the best you can.
    And then you remember that school success doesn’t correlate all that well with adult happiness
    Help your son be a good, kind person and pray the universe takes care of the rest..

  3. Your article was very honest and thought provoking – thank you. Maybe this experience would make you more forgiving of your pupils, their parents and yourself as a teacher. Is expecting the same behaviour/ learning ability/ concentration from a large group of children realistic?

    While considering teaching, several people have said to me that they liked to teach children with special needs because it is more rewarding – perhaps what they really liked was the one to one aspect – having the space to adapt to the exact needs of the pupil and seeing the direct results. Teaching TEFL to teenagers I found smaller groups easier to build relationships with and adapt to the learning styles of each student. Not a luxury available in the classroom perhaps. Also, some people work better in smaller groups or alone than others, and in different ways for different tasks.

    While bringing up my own children I have worked full-time, part-time and am currently a full-time mum. Not ideal for me but when not stressed about not earning or giving something useful back to society, I can really make a difference to my children’s enjoyment of learning and be involved in what goes on in their classrooms making up the gaps I see in their education and taking tips I get from the classroom home.
    Teachers don’t have time or resources to be all things to all pupils and similarly parents don’t. So between us we have to do what we can. You could have just told his teacher, “yes I am his mum. He’s great at home, I’m surprised that you have any bother with him”!

    You being a conscientious parent and teacher would be of great benefit to your son – showing him a good role model of a valuable, important member of society. If he hasn’t reached his potential in your eyes, you could just keep letting him know that you have faith in his ability and choices. Not that you expect more, you just accept he is on his own path and you know he can do well whatever he sets his mind to do well.

  4. Hey also, that child you describe is in my daughters class. He always makes me smile when I see him. He did well last year as he had a fun teacher who joked back at him and let him be himself – it was the first year at school. This year he has been labled the naughty boy and quite often is left out – my daughter tells me. I’ve noticed at assembly’s he no longer takes centre stage and is a little unsure how much of himself to ‘let out’. He reads beyond others in the class so he’s not behind. His mum also mentioned that he is the awkward one at home.
    He loves football and is full of energy.
    I suppose it’s not my place to say to his teacher, that I think her method of containing him is wrong. His mum is at the school a lot, on the PTA etc… so she is aware of what goes on. Perhaps too embarrassed to say ‘let him burn out a bit more, less sitting, let him have his time to make the others laugh’?
    What would you have done differently with hindsight?

    Emily

  5. Reblogged this on Mummy On A Learning Curve and commented:
    The school year is just about to start here in Australia, I am already chewing my nails.

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