At day 2 of the MfA Summer Think yesterday, there was a teacher poetry circle. The following was the result of the free write at the end.
Early in my teaching career I never thought that about being a parent. As time-consuming and energy-consuming as teaching is on a daily basis, I never thought that I would be capable of being a parent, fathering a child, tending to the everyday needs of another human. I, along with most other teachers I know, are completely drained at the end of a school day. As a parent, I would then have to go home and do something even more involved? Nah, I’m good.
I was so wrapped up in my own professional cocoon that I would privately question teachers who were parents. Was there’s a conscious decision to start the journey into parenthood? If so, WHY in the world would they do it? And how do they maintain their own sanity on an everyday basis?
Well, two and a half years ago I willingly turned my personal life upside down and became a dad. In addition to being the most awesome and adventurous ride I’ve ever been on, it also spurred a dramatic change in me as a teacher.
Before my son arrived, I was an impassioned teacher. I had the career that I had wanted since my junior year in high school. I loved my students, I loved my job. But after his birth, the love I developed for him was deeper and more compassionate than anything I had ever known before. For any parent out there reading this, you know what I mean.
Slowly, during that first year of my son’s fragile life, I began to see my students differently. This was both amazing and unexpected. I realized that the same love I had for my son was also felt by the parents/guardians of my students. In addition to every other aspect of their lives, these parents sent their children to my school, to my classroom, each morning wanting nothing but the absolute best for their kid. This desire was no different than what I felt for my son from the minute I held him in the hospital for the first time.
As a result, I began to see each of the 34 students in my class from the eyes of a parent, not just a teacher. This triggered a shift in mindset that transformed how I felt about teaching mathematics and, coming from a single parent household, why I taught. Because he gave me this beautiful gift of perspective, each one of my students has become a version of my own son.
So, now, while I fail often at meeting this standard, I teach my classes as if he was on the roster. I simply know no different.