January 4, 2015

The One Thing That Changed How I Teach

It's no surprise to any one of my friends how much BEING A MOM has changed me. Teaching is no exception. I knew having a kid would change my focus, I had no idea how wonderful and painful all at the same time that could be.

Things I had to do less of

1. Hang out with friends.
Pretty much I don't even get called anymore because my answer is depressingly the same. I can't. I never want to leave my kid at daycare a minute longer then necessary, call it mommy guilt, but somethings have to give.

2. Extra Activities. I had to give up a few extra things I was doing. I stopped writing for an art magazine, doing an after school gardening club, and just slumping and watching TV after work. Why? Because I need to focus on things that replenish me at the end of the day to avoid burnout.

3.  Sleeping. Before kid (I only have one) I religiously needed 8 hours of sleep to feel normal. It's an effort to stay in bed after 6 or 7.

4. Shopping. What three year old likes to shop? From grocery shopping to clothes shopping it's important to keep our trips short and sweet.

Things I did more of

1. Student Accountability. I simply could no longer stay at work until 7 or 8 pm anymore. I decided that I can't do everything for everybody. Now the kids are in charge of clean-up (really not just pretend clean-up and a pat on the back.) The older classes who have a little more "edge" have a student teacher, a student in the class who gives directions, picks people to pass supplies, takes attendance. This takes the pressure off of me to address every behavior. Truth be told if you met me you might think I'm "too nice" to teach effectively in an inner-city school.  I am nice, but that doesn't have anything to do with controlling a classroom. Being "nice" means fear as a form of control does not work for me. Placing the students in charge of monitoring each other in my tougher classes especially, really helps free me up to teach and makes my tough classes accountable to their peers.

2. Prioritize. Prioritizing DOES NOT mean ranking everything you are already doing in order of importance. I had to ask the question, does this activity/task/person make me feel better, does this feed my soul. Obviously if it was work, I had to do it anyways, but anything that didn't truly contribute to my well being outside of work had to go. That being said all the friends I had to hang out with less, I try to keep up with in different ways (a fb message or a little help here or there to show I really care and will be back at the end of this whirlwind of having a baby.)

3. Follow my Passion. So when you have a kid you eliminate a lot, but sometimes you add. My focus changed. You probably notice I don't post a lot of projects anymore, they just aren't what inspires me! I am more inspired by the little stories from the day, the impact that I see being made, projects are the backbone of the program but not what fuels me (so I simply don't post about them in my down time.) I also picked up a camera for the first time in 4 years after my child was born. After going to school for photography and pursuing filmmaking, I decided to give it all up to be a better teacher. I was exhausted and overwhelmed with teaching. When I starting to photograph my child, it helped me bond with her, and remember my first love for photography. I was inspired to take better pictures and be a better mom.

Do you have to have a child to increase student accountability, prioritize and follow your passion? ABSOLUTELY NOT! For me, I did. It was part of my journey. I was obsessed with my identity as a teacher. Finding a new identity as a mom helped open my mind to the possibility of loving something/someone  more than teaching. Whether you have a kid or not, I hope you do something in your life that throws you for a loop, scares you, takes courage, and makes you look at the world in a different way. I know you will because that to me is the definition of an artist.


Katie Morris said...

I think that becoming a parent changed my teaching, too. It made me more understanding when dealing with difficult student situations. I sometimes see my sons in their faces and it reminds me of how little they really are.

Mrs. Hahn said...

Hear, Hear!! We have had conversations about this many times. I couldn't agree more. I find that I have these thoughts and do a really good job for a while but I say 'Yes" and "Yes" and "Yes" until I finally crash again, and have to realign my priorities and start again. You comments remind me of my (any my husbands) New Years Resolution. If it doesn't feed my soul, or help me obtain a goal (like getting a paycheck, or health insurance...), it's out! I will be more selfish and do what makes me a good person, and sometimes that means I say 'No'. Thanks for the post. Great insite!

Jen said...

I understand completely!!! Both my children are in school now and I missed many of the early years at home during the day(my husband had all the fun moments)because I worked full-time and my work is an hour away. This year my hours were cut and I am only part-time. This has opened my eyes in that I need to make a change. I am working on what that will be. I do not know at the moment. Because of my hours being cut I have had the opportunity to host a party in my son's first grade classroom and I have taught two art projects. My kids school does not teach art until 5th grade (very sad).
My New Years resolutions are to Dance more (at home with the kids)!!! and play more music than T.V.. I use to do those things all the time when my kids were younger. I don't know why I ever stopped. We loved those moments.

Unknown said...

I love what you've shared! Becoming a mother sure changed my world view, and perception about my work and my students. All these changes all work in favour of becoming an individual w more meaning and purpose in my life. Thank you for sharing!

Unknown said...

I love this post - it speak right to me. I have a snow day today and wrote three 'scheduled' blog posts because prior to this I had done I think 5 all school year. I just don't have time to do it - my time after school is for my family. I do have my school website updated, but that's a requirement!

Mobile app development company said...

Informative article. Thanks for sharing. I would like to share information about the Android app development company in Pune, India. if you're in search of a mobile app development partner that blends technical expertise with a touch of Pune's cultural richness, look no further. Our company is not just a provider; it's a promise – a promise to turn your mobile app dreams into a digital reality that reflects the spirit of Pune, India.