Children are innocent, blank slates. Clean canvasses. Malleable, movable, and unknowing to what exactly life is all about. It’s hard to look at them and not feel some sort of joy. They carry the ability to bring out our best, most gentle selves.
I received my gift, my son, at the young age of 20. And while I thought I knew what ALL being a mother would take, I didn’t. I had no idea of what great a responsibility I signed up for. The ability to put this little person before myself became second nature. My old self was being removed. It really is a different kind of love.
A Mother and an Educator
I carried this responsibility as I chose to become an educator. The impact that I would have on children and their future was one of the first lessons I learned in the profession. I was now contributing to the outcome of lives. I was a mama to 30 at one time. I often took home much of my workload to grade papers, complete lesson plans, and make phone calls to parents. While my son did his homework, I did mine. Sometimes he went to bed and I stayed up to finish or would wake a few hours early to get a fresh start with whatever was undone. There were so many
Saturday mornings dedicated to making an anchor chart or creating an exemplar to use for the next week. I worked hard.
As my son got older, he began to struggle in school. He was now dealing with more than one teacher. Common core had its shifts and they were working on him. Every teacher taught using their own style. Needless to say, all styles did not work for him. Plus he lived in two homes. For a child, it was a recipe for disgust. He grew so frustrated. His grades suffered.
He needed more of me and my time. So we made some adjustments. One home during the week (I am also a co-parent) so we could practice good habits. I began to spend our time reinforcing whatever he was learning in each class. Reinforcement for him was a new approach. We did videos, we went to the library for changes of scenery, we used my classroom and its Prometheum board, board games, thinking maps (graphic organizers), real field trips, powerpoint presentations created by him, grocery store visits, reading while en route to football practice, flashcards, sticky notes everywhere, you name, we did it.
Of course, the work I needed to complete for my own classes began to become a second thought. So I hired a tutor for my son. That worked for a while but I found there was nothing like giving him MY time. Plus, it allowed me to see and understand how he learned from a parental perspective. He needed one on one. He needed patience. He needed to be monitored and redirected a bit more than some other students. And he deserved it. I do this. Who was I not to give it to him?
The Balancing Act I assume that everyone with a full time profession and children have to work hard to keep their lives balanced. I am just not an expert at it (at least not yet). Here is where I struggled so I came up with a plan. Staying organized and prepared has helped me become a lot better and I am proud to say that my son and I are handling it.
But bigger than anything I learned how much focus, commitment, and discipline it takes to take care of children. Whether you’re an PARENT or a TEACHER, if you have the responsibility to care for a child, the responsibility is not to be taken lightly. The world has enough uncertainties for them. Don’t be the adult that adds to that.
If you are a teacher, recognize and take responsibility for the POWER you have. Yes, our profession is hard but it is what YOU chose. We all know and feel the injustices of it. Rather than complain, figure out what the solution is for you. The impact on the lives you have inside of your classroom will move beyond that one year you are present. If it is your job to teach a child to read, DO IT, at your best. Reading is too important to their future. If it is your job to teach a
job mathematical foundations, DO IT, at your best. If it your job to teach a child science or social studies to build knowledge and make connections to the real world and its history, DO IT, at your best. They don’t have YOUR POWER and much of what they need to get to their next level is up to you.
So to ALL PEOPLE who are responsible for children, take care of them. Eventually, these precious children, will be taking care of you.