Wow–I didn’t initially intend for this to be a two-parter, but I got to the end of #3 and figured it made more sense than continuing towards that 15-year-to-read post I mentioned. Ok, here we go again. And here’s Part 1 if you missed it.
4. In 2012, our family made another step in the stages of growth when my first baby went to kindergarten. Um…in case you didn’t know, the first day of kindergarten (i.e. real school) is VERY different than the first days of preschool. At least for me. Oh, the tears! Plus there was an added level of
fun stress responsibility because I was sending him to my same school. That meant I had to quickly dry the tears and get back to my big kids for our first day of school. Needless to say, being a parent of a school-aged child was a learning experience. I think I’d say the hardest (and more surprising) part was parent-teacher conferences. As a mama of a kindergartener I learned that parent-teacher conferences are nerve-wracking from the other side of the table. No matter what. And wow–that was a big deal for me. After over a decade of going through that routine as a teacher, I finally “got it” as a parent. I knew that from then on I would do everything in my power to ease any nerves that came in with parents to my own conferences. And even though I’ve now done 5 of my own conferences, I still cry. I’ve learned to let Mr. Bearden be in charge in this realm. 🙂
5. As I mentioned before, I went back to primary last year, after 9 years with “big” kids. At first I was super scared. Ok, I was nervously excited. I knew it would all come back, but here’s perhaps the biggest way in which I know I am a better teacher a parent. I was not a mom the last time I taught 1st and 2nd grade, but now I have an 8 1/2 and a 5 YO. That definitely has added to my arsenal of strategies and tricks that I can use in countless situations. Remember how I mentioned that classroom management that first year was so hard to learn and how I thought I might die? Ok, I didn’t say that, but it’s funny to see the difference with managing things in a primary grade the second time around. Yes, part of the ease is that I have now been teaching for so many more years; this has been an education in itself. But being a mom has also given me another set of eyes in the back of my head. I know better what to anticipate (and then hopefully prevent) with 7-8 YOs, because I have one at home. I can speak to little ones in a better and more meaningful way since I’ve had so much more practice since the last time around. I can better predict what will be the right words to motivate, the right words to encourage, or stop or which words might send a little one into tears (and yes, I try to avoid those!). The extra treat that I didn’t anticipate was being able to understand the “culture” of this age; I totally understand their games, books, TV shows, etc., because they’re the same as what I have at home!!
Ok, so back to the initial question. Do parents make better teachers? For me, that’s definitely true. However, there are many ways to define “better,” and there are of course AMAZING teachers who are not parents. I have, however, learned many lessons and can better understand many of the ins-and-outs since I am on both sides of the equation. That education has been such a gift.
What I’ve known–and truly believed–all along though, is that regardless of their career, the job that parents do as their child’s first teachers is priceless. It is therefore not my job to replace them as the teacher, but to work together on a new team of teachers and parents to help mold our students into the best versions of themselves they can be. The work that mamas and daddies do before I even get their kiddos is so important to the work that I will then do with each student once they enter my classroom. What fun to join the family of learners to work together towards a common goal!