Your Kid is my Kid: A Note to Parents
On a average weekday, I spend about 5.5 hours with my students, whereas I only get about 2 hours with my own boys, while feeding them dinner, cleaning up, bathing them, and doing homework, before they go to bed. These numbers aren’t surprising, but unless we take time to really think about them, it’s easy to forget just how much time educators spend with their students compared to with their own families. Another important thing to note when it comes to education is that it’s virtually impossible to “leave your work at work”. Even if you are the most organized teacher around (and trust me, I know one of those quite well… me), there is still no way that you can shut off from work once you leave school. Although this can sometimes be a challenging part of the job, it is also one that reminds me constantly why I chose this profession.
This week, after having spent a considerable amount of time helping students through some challenges that an incident brought on, I got an e-mail from a parent and part of it really stood out to me:
“I can’t thank you enough for all your ongoing effort. The last thing I’d want is to take away your time from your kids and husband, so I just want to make sure you know how much your concerns and efforts are appreciated!”
As much as I truly appreciated this message, it made me reflect on what I was doing and why I was doing it. Was I going above and beyond by calling and e-mailing parents over the weekend and into my evenings to try and help their children? Was I taking time away from my own family to support these students and their families? I certainly didn’t and don’t view it that way. You see, I spend a whole lot of time with these kiddos, and I care about them so, so much! I want what is best for them, always, and certainly not just academically. I hope that I help my students develop essential life skills in order to help them be good citizens who know how to think critically and problem solve, who can communicate and collaborate, who treat others with respect and are creative and resilient. I teach the whole child, and that means that when the bell rings at 3:30, my job is not over. It is never over. Just as it is never over as a parent. I have my own kids, and then I have my school kids. As I tried to explain to parents in the past, yes I may call or e-mail over the weekend or in the evenings once I’ve gotten my boys to bed, but that is because I am not able to put certain things aside – my heart just won’t let me (nor should it). If I didn’t call or e-mail, I would worry and think about it all weekend, or all evening, and it would likely keep me up at night. I am only one piece of the puzzle that will help my students become the best version of themselves, and it is crucial that the school and their families work together to best support these sweet kiddos.
Does this take time and energy? Absolutely! But as a mom, I constantly think about what I would want my own children’s teachers to do. To me, this is not going above and beyond, it is part of the job. And thankfully, by caring so much, it makes this part of the job that isn’t always easy, not only worth it, but much more manageable.