Saturday, August 23, 2014

Why having your kids go to school is hardest for teachers.

The As have two weeks of kindergarten under their belts.  They've pretty well rocked it, if I do say so myself. Aside from an unfortunate whistle-blowing incident in PE, during which Anderson freaked out, things have gone fairly smoothly--from what I can tell.

I've decided that being a teacher and having your kids go to school is just incredibly hard. I'm not taking anything away from you non-teacher mothers out there, but I think it's even harder for us. Especially if our kids aren't in our school. See, I know too much. I've spent the last seven years as a K-3 Curriculum Coach. That means I go into K-3 classrooms and work with teachers to create engaging units and lesson plans that meet curriculum standards. Sometimes I model-teach, which is one of my favorite things to do. Sometimes I work with kids in intervention groups. Sometimes I just hang out, because I miss being with the students.  But another part of my job is to attend professional development sessions, so that I can stay informed about all that is up-and-coming in education. Over the past seven years, I bet I've had well over 400 hours of PD on topics ranging from behavior management to very specific literacy strategy instruction. I've been fortunate enough to attend many national conferences. All this to say--obviously I have very specific ideas of what I believe instruction should look like in classrooms. How teachers should teach. What they teach and when they should teach it. At my own school I collaborate with our leadership team and our teachers to be sure that we are providing the best instruction possible. I KNOW what happens in OUR classrooms. But my kids are going to our neighborhood school. I have absolutely no idea what happens all day every day. And that's hard for me.

Don't misunderstand; their homeroom teachers have been nothing short of amazing. I've had many interactions with them already, and I know that they are good teachers. They're kind, warm, and just right for my kids. But I have no clue what they do all day! Sure, they bring home a newsletter and the odd worksheet here and there. That doesn't tell me what their literacy block looks like. Do they do a combination of whole group and small group instruction? What does it look like when they're teaching phonics? Are they teaching them correct letter formation? Do they have an assessment that they use to drive instruction? Are they monitoring the class to be sure that my little crazies are actually paying attention?

If you have kids in school, you know what kinds of responses you get when you ask them what they did at school that day. Anderson immediately talks about the whistle in gym (we are working hard to get over that...), even if he didn't go to gym that day. Amelia pretty much just gives me the run-down on who got in trouble that day in her room. Sometimes, if I ask just the right question, I get something out of them. Amelia read the "David" books her first week and told me that she learned that "mothers and teachers still love their kids if they get into trouble".  Anderson can recite his class rules, and apparently they have some kind of class motto: "Be kind, be honest, be your BEST!"  The "best" in the motto is said with a nice fist pump. I know there are good things going on.  But not knowing the instructional part of it is, well, hard.

I don't know. Maybe it's a good thing. Maybe it'll help me let go of some of my controlling tendencies. Or maybe I'll just continue to hound the teachers and be "that mom". I'm just playing it by ear. :-)

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