I have two jobs. I am a teacher and a mom. I love my job and I love my family, but the teacher mom struggle is real. On any given school day, I either feel like I have given my all to my students or I have given my all to my own kids. I rarely feel as if I have given my all to both my students and my own kids. I invest a lot of time in my job and my family. Teaching and parenting are two of the toughest and most exhausting jobs, so I question whether it is possible to be good at both.
When I was in college, one of my favorite professors once said, “Your students don’t have to like you, they have to respect you. They are not your friends.” I stuck to this advice the first few years that I taught high school. But, guess what? I don’t remember a lot of my students from those first few years. I focused so much on teaching the content but not on getting to know my students. I have learned that in order to be an effective teacher, you have to get to know your students and relate to them. Can you imagine 35 teenage students sitting in your classroom for 75 minutes who don’t like you? That doesn’t work. Your students have to like you and have to be able to relate to you in some way. This doesn’t mean you have to be their best friend. It means you have to build a positive relationship by showing interest in them but still having high expectations with rules and boundaries. I basically have to treat all of my students as if they are my own kids. Do you know how difficult it is to take care of 100 plus students a day while also teaching them something new? It’s certainly not an easy task.
I have often assumed that teenagers are just immature; however, they just tend to need some extra guidance. They have to constantly be reminded how to behave appropriately and to use correct and appropriate language. If you think about it, students often spend more time with their teachers than their own parents during the school week. Many students just need a positive role model in their lives. My job title may be “Spanish teacher” but I do so much more than teach Spanish. You may have heard the saying that teachers wear many hats, and I cannot agree more. I am not only a teacher, I am also an actress, a counselor, a nurse, a detective, and a mom, just to name a few. I know it’s quite a challenge and almost impossible to reach them all, but I sure try, and it is exhausting. I just hope that I have some type of positive influence on all of my students.
So, at the end of the day, my own kids get what’s left of me and my patience is often thin, which doesn’t seem fair.
I know that my own family should come first. I should focus on my own kids after school, but many times, I find myself constantly thinking about school well after I have left for the day. There are so many things that I have to do that I just do not have time for during the school day. While I feel like my school day never ends, I also have to get my own kids to their sports practices, provide dinner, help them with homework, pack lunches, and get them ready for bed at a decent time, which often does not happen. We have many late nights. Once I have settled them in for the night, I have to work on things for school, such as grading papers or making lesson plans. When I am working on that, I find myself thinking about my kids and if I spent enough quality time with them that day. Then, I start feeling guilty if I raised my voice at them at any point after school. Maybe because I feel like I am on repeat all day long, constantly repeating instructions to my students, I feel like my own kids should do what I ask the first time. I mean, shouldn’t all kids do that? Maybe in a perfect world.
The best part of each day during the school year is when we sit down to eat dinner together as a family. We always make it a point to do that, even if it is late, and even if we are eating fast food for the third time that week. I really don’t think my kids realize that I’m not always able to give them my all simply because they are used to a busy routine. They are also well aware of everything that I do for them as well as what I do for my students and I think they respect that. I also don’t think my students notice when I am not on my A game. They are aware of my busy mom life outside of school. I am very fortunate that I have two wonderful children of my own and a very supportive husband. After all, I chose my profession and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m proud of what I do, even if I feel like it’s an impossible task to give my all to every single kid who I am responsible for each day.