Sunday, July 28, 2013

Talkin' Shop

I had the opportunity to meet and talk with another teacher-dad the other day. He's a 5th grade teacher, and from what I can tell, a pretty damn good one! Whenever I get to talk to other teacher-dads (happens rarely!) I like to get a sense of what inspired them to teach, and how they feel about being a teacher. I knew immediately that his perspective on education was similar to my own.

One of the things I asked him about was whether he felt respected as a male teacher. He said that he hadn't thought about it, but that he had just received a teaching award (super jealous) that helped him realize that he truly did feel as though the community of students and parents at the school appreciate and respect him. That feeling of appreciation from them was all that mattered to him each day. 

Our conversation shifted at that point to acknowledge that we both agreed that we ultimately work for the students and their parents and NOT the principal. All to often, I'm seeing teachers working for the principal, the superintendent, or even the curriculum while forgetting the true purpose of the job is to teach and work for the kids. He made a great point that the role of a good admin is to support the teachers in doing this by not getting in the way of instruction. They need to simply be there to encourage teacher creativity, and promote student safety. I feel that a main contributing factor to the "decline" of  education is the fact that our perspective on who we work for is lost. At the end of each day, week, quarter, semester, and year we need to leave the school knowing we did what was best in the interest of the students and their parents. Instead, we have a strong percentage of teachers more worried about test results and pleasing the district, so our students are suffering. 

At this point, I realized that I didn't want to spend our ENTIRE conversation talking about admins, so I shifted our talk to a less serious topic: being a teacher-dad. :) I asked him how he managed his life as a teacher and a dad. The main point he made was about patience. He admitted that the hardest part about being a teacher-dad for him was the limited amount of patience he had for his own kids after spending an entire day teaching. We traded stories about coming home from a day of teaching and being set off by the smallest of things that our own kids do. Our expectations of our own kids become so much greater than those we have on our students. It becomes unfair for them when you then combined those high expectations with depleted patience, and we are suddenly flying off the handle over spilled milk! And our kids look at us as if we are seriously insane.. which in the moment we totally are! It was so reassuring for me to connect to another person on this level. To know that the frustrations that I have as a tired teacher-dad were shared by someone else. We didn't get into solutions or ways that we could help each other in those moments where our patience levels are gone, but it was healing just being able to share all this with someone similar to me.

As a consumed teacher-dad I find that my world is so heavily centered on teaching and parenting that I forget that there are others out there like me. This small conversation was truly a grounding time for me, and I really needed it! I'm hoping to catch up with him again soon. Probably the at the next district teacher development... which is just weeks away at this point... yeah.... blah... Can't wait to blog that later. 

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