Eight years ago this December, I graduated college with the intentions of teaching high school English. Life happened, and well, teaching DIDN’T happen. I took a corporate job (or three), moved multiple times, got married and started a family. So, pregnant with my second child last year and ready to really lay down roots, I decided to take the plunge and apply for jobs. Surprisingly enough…I got one! Celebration ensued, tears were shed, and then came
a giant slap in the face the first day of school.
I teach 6 classes a day–Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors. My sophomores are still cute and sweet, so they care about not getting lunch detention enough to stop talking when I ask them to. My seniors pretty much have one foot out of the door and already know “everything”, so they don’t really give me much trouble either. My Juniors, though? Well. They’re going to send me in to an early grave, y’all. Like, meltdowns have occurred and temper has been lost on more than one occasion.
It’s generally just one of my classes, primarily full of rowdy athletes. They. Wear. Me. Out (see pictures of results of their “paper war” included in this article. This is my life.). However, one day I had two of the boys showing me magic tricks. Why? I don’t know. But they were. ANYWAY, as their sheepish grins revealed how they had just played me for a fool for the umpteenth time, I felt my cold heart melting, little by little. As a boy mom, I thought to myself, “these could be my boys some day. Are they really that bad? Have I been going about this all wrong?” I had an epiphany that day about the innocence of childhood, and the similarities of raising toddlers and teaching older kiddos. Here is what I’ve discovered in my “research”:
Not everything is black and white.
One of my favorite sayings about parenthood is, “I was a much better parent before I had children”. You see, when you have your first child, you think you’re going to do/not do a million different things. Then, your child becomes their own little person, and some nights they eat cookies for dinner and sleep in your bed because, well, you learn to choose your battles wisely. Same goes for becoming a teacher. You have all of these fantastic hopes and dreams for how your classroom will run so smoothly and your kiddos will love you…but some days, you give up on life and throw on some Netflix. True story.
Never underestimate the power of “bribing”…I mean, extra credit.
Kids don’t listen. It’s some sort of birth defect, where they have this amazing ability to select only the 3 words they want to hear from the 10 you just spoke. Toddler won’t put his shoes on? Offer an Oreo. Kids don’t want to do their reading assignment? Scare them with a pop quiz, then take it for extra credit after they’ve turned it in. Guarantee they’ll read the next night’s assignment. Maybe not the night after that…but you can only do so much.
Compromise is not a weakness.
This is basically my life’s motto. Not every mood your toddler has can be appeased with the same negotiations each time. Same goes for the attitude of a hormonal teenager. They aren’t always going to respect you or do as you request, but having a little leeway and understanding can actually go a long way. (Taking note for my future parenting self).
Patience truly is a virtue.
The “terrible twos” are upon our household. Like, I cannot handle another meltdown about how I can’t fulfill his dinner request for donuts because donut shops are not open at 6 pm. But, 9 times out of 10 I am able to control myself and take the heat. This applies great to my classroom atmosphere, and the million times in one class period that I repeat the answer to a question.
Children are children at any age. In the beginning, I expected too much of my high schoolers. I had such high expectations of them, and treated them like adults, when in reality…they aren’t. They are still learning, just like my toddler, and on the days that I forget that, they quickly remind me. So y’all, when you see that meme circulating about how your child’s teacher wants wine, do not disregard. Love a teacher…we spend all day loving your pride and joy, and 99% of the time, we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.