There are plenty of teachers out there who land up teaching their own children at some point during their child’s education career. And quite frankly, I don’t know how they do it! I mean, if I had to teach my own child in the classroom, I’m sure I’d make it work. But, OHMYGOODNESS, it would be hard!
Case in point: I was volunteering in the writing center of Isabelle’s preschool classroom yesterday. I was there to work with the kids on their writing journals. Only one student is in the emerging stage of writing where she’s attempting phonetic spelling on the page. (#notmykid) The rest are drawing pictures and dictating to me.
Isabelle entered the writing center about 15 minutes into writing time. But she wasn’t ready to work. She was more interested in chatting than writing. So I got tough. I insisted she write her story (for which she claimed she had no ideas even after we thought of some things she could write about). She stood up and bothered her friend at the table who was trying to draw the people in her story. She wanted to talk to us rather than work. I knew what I had to do. I told her to “leave and come back” when she was ready to write.
She was NOT happy.
I remained firm. “Just because you’re my kid doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want when you come over here to work with me.”
She muttered, “But Mommy…”
“No,” I cut her off. “If you need to think of me as Stacey when I’m in the classroom, then do that. But you have to come back when you’re ready to write.”
She sulked her way out of the writing center. Eventually (i.e., ten minutes later), she returned with a better attitude.
However, she wasn’t committed to her journal like she has been in the past classroom visits. Her drawing was sloppy; not at all like the writing she’s been producing at home when she voluntarily sits down to “write.”
After she dictated her story to me, I asked her, “Was this your best work?”
“No,” she replied.
“You’re right. It’s not your best work. I know you’re capable of telling stories and drawing pictures. You will do better than this the next time I come in, right?”
Tears welled up in her blueberry eyes. This time, the waterworks affected me. I dropped the teacher side of me and became Mommy again. I drew her close and hugged her. “I know you will do better next Monday when I come in. You have so many stories to tell. We’ll write more at home this week. Okay?”
She nodded and walked off to the puzzle area. When it came time for me to leave, she didn’t give me her usual hug. In fact, she didn’t even gaze up from her puzzle when I came by to say good-bye. Great, my kid hates me now. But I didn’t push it. I talked with her teachers about something unrelated and walked away.
I spent the next few hours feeling miserable about how writing time went this morning. Was I mean or firm? (I decided on firm. I wouldn’t have let another kid goof-off like she was. She thought she could get away with it because I’m her mom.) Either way, I felt terrible.
I pondered how I would respond if she were still upset with me as I drove back to school in the afternoon. Would I apologize? Would we talk it out?
Moments after crossing the threshold of the classroom door, I was greeted by a mega-watt smile and a big hug. Apparently, we were going to just move on!