May 29, 2016

Parenting as a Teacher

I returned to Twitter to ask for blogging ideas again. I asked for a quick prompt that I could write after going to the theater Saturday night. I think David thought he was being funny because this is no simple question! But then I ended up writing it anyway Saturday night, into Sunday, after I published my much quicker post.
The more I have thought about it the more I realize that this is the wrong question. The correct question is, how has being a teacher affected my parenting? I understand this is impossible to answer accurately since I wasn't a parent before I started teaching but it is much more accurate in terms of the direction of influence. My teaching has changed very little since doubling the size of my household - I've had a decade of experiences to shape how I interact with teenagers. That decade of experiences absolutely influences how I approach parenting.

What I let go, what I address immediately, what I return to later. These are all decisions that I've made a million times in my classroom and I've found a balance among them that works.

At school I have a support team built in, at home I built one up (my friends and other kids' parents are good, professionals are great).

I've taught students in foster care, parentified kids and other kids who have had to grow up faster than their peers. I've learned to recognize the difference between maturity and independence. It's still rather impossible to navigate successfully - all teenagers demand opportunities while simultaneously avoiding other responsibilities. Jordan likes to tell me that kids do [insert thing she did or wants to do]; sometimes I need the reminder, sometimes she's delusional.

I could tell you that watching her do homework made me realize something about the work I assign, but that's not true. Or that hearing the way she talks about her teachers makes me want to change, but that's not true either. I like knowing more about how the middle school structure works so I can relate better to my grade nine students' culture shock. I also like knowing the middle school math content so I can tell my students with confidence that they've seen something before. There are some small improvements in the other direction.

Adding one more kid to the long line of other kids I've watched grow up hasn't changed my teaching. But watching a long line of kids grow up absolutely prepared me to be a better parent for the one that I let into my home.

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