When out and about having small talk with random people and the subject of what I do for a living comes up and I joyfully tell them “I am a teacher” the follow up question is immediately “what grade?” When I respond proudly, “middle school” I get the same squinty, dirty look in response. People usually retort with comments like, “wow, that must be tough” or “ew why?” And yes it is hard and challenging but it is such a great job. Not one adult can look back at their middle school years and think, “man, I loved my hair,” “my clothes where so cool,” or “I had it all together.” These are the years where students make fashion disasters, learn to survive without their parent’s assistance, have their first crush, get picked on, and HOPEFULLY learn how to be hardworking, good people. I have been an educator for many years teaching the very interesting students of them all-middle schoolers.
Since becoming a mother my teaching practices have changed drastically. I started by assigning less homework. I did this for two reasons; one because I realize when kids come home from a long day of work asking them to do even more work is a hard task. Students are also involved in many different after school activities like soccer, piano, or dance-they don’t have time for homework. Parents also get little time with their kids, and arguing with them to do some science is not a way I want to spend my evening. I also started assigning less homework to give myself less work. As a teacher, the more you assign, the more you grade. And I too believe spending time with your family is valuable, precious, and can’t be replaced. Yes, do I think it is important to read with your child every night? Of course! But playing outside, sitting down at dinner together, having a conversation, or playing a sport is more important.
After becoming a mom, I now care less about my students “learning” and more about turning them into good people who possess values like hard work, determination, and kindness. When I first started teaching I was all about teaching grammar, wiring, and reading comprehension. But as an adult when was the last time you dissected a sentence for parts of speech? Writing and reading skills are key in becoming successful, but if there is anything my students take away from having Mrs. Doyle as a teacher I want it to be that hard work will make you successful in life, being kind to others is more important than being popular, and if you do anything be determined at it-never give up. I often tell my students, “the boss of a company is not the smartest person in the room, they are the most hardworking.”
Another way I have changed as a teacher is a sad thing that I have realized-not all of my students have good parents or live in a stable home. I had a blind eye or maybe a naive mind when I became a teacher. I came from a stable home, my parents who are still married to this day, are both hard working individuals who value education. Not all of my student’s parents value education. They don’t care if their child has or does homework, they don’t care if their kid even passes my class. I have called parents to discuss failing grades and I am practically burdening them with the phone call. Some-didn’t choose to become parents-they became them. Some of my students do not have a stable home, they are living in broken homes of divorced parents, parents who are alcoholics, drug attics, or even homeless. School, or my class, just might be the only stable thing they have in their lives. So what if the student comes to school without paper, a pencil? I used to get mad-how could a parent send their kids to school without a binder or something to write with? Now being a mom, I hand them school supplies over and over again and offer a loving smile and a chance to change their future.
I want to be a teacher, who I hope one day when my kids are in school have. Someone who will love my children as their own, teach them right from wrong, and encourage them to have greatness in their life.
Your Redlocks and Shamrocks Girl,