For a homeschooling parent it’s always interesting to hear some different opinions and to get a little insight from a teacher’s life is of course top of my list. So I asked Eric, from All In A Dad’s Work to write a guest post for me. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience with me, Eric and for the line you drew between being a teacher and a homeschooling parent.
I was substituting in a primary (kindergarten) classroom the other day. Imagine your four or five year old. Now multiply your child by 18. I had unstuck a jacket zipper. I tied 2 pairs of shoes. I answered 17 questions. I listened to 5 stories. I memorized 18 names and faces. I made sure everyone had what they needed for a day of learning. I answered two phone calls. It was only 8:45 am. Our day hadn’t even started yet. While it was a very busy day (imagine herding cats) I was enjoying it.
To borrow a line from Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. For a teacher this statement holds true at any given time throughout the course of a day. A teacher could be having a great day in class. Ah ha moments galore. Every student is loving class. Class is functioning as a well-oiled machine.
Yet, simultaneously, a teacher could be having a day not even worth getting out of bed for. Certification requirements looming. For us substitutes, there’s the constant question, “Will I find work tomorrow?” Whether it’s grading or grants or permissions, there’s paperwork piled high enough to make Edmund Hillary want to climb it.
Dickens’s statement stands strong not just for the public school teacher, but for the home school teacher as well. With slightly different highs and lows, but no less high and no less low. It is the best of days when your child finally grasps a concept and you get to see their light bulb light up. Then, that excitement and enthusiasm carries over to the next lesson. Or the outing you planned fell perfectly into place.
Yet, simultaneously it is the worst of days when you constantly wonder if your child is learning everything they need to succeed. There are the worries of the next lessons. There are the sometimes harsh criticisms of other parents on your decision to home school.
Regardless of where we teach, be it in school or at home, there will always be moments when it all comes together. Like the time I was teaching fourth grade. I had just introduced long division. None of my students had seen this before so it was a totally new concept. I spent an hour going over the steps. Repeatedly. I even had a song and dance to help them remember. At the end of the hour not a single light bulb had lit up. They were all still asking for help. So I assigned three problems for homework.
The next day three students had returned with their homework complete. Three out of sixteen. Those three students became teachers that day. The four of us divided the class and by the end of the hour we were all doing long division. What began as a failed lesson became one of the greatest days of learning that year.
But I know that happened only because of the three students who almost learned it in school. They almost learned long division from me. Moms and dads then took time from their day to help their child grasp this foreign concept. They had the privilege of seeing the light bulb click on at home. Essentially, my students were home schooled for an evening and it was awesome. I may have missed out on seeing their faces light up when it all finally made sense. But I did not miss out on watching them make their classmates faces light when they, too, finally understood.
However, not every day is light bulbs and smiling faces. Sometimes there are frustrations. Sometimes there are difficulties. Sometimes there are tears. And they’re not always the student’s tears.
As a teacher, it always breaks my heart to hear some of the background stories of my students. One year, I had a student who was always so eager to be in class. She was always smiling, happy, and a teacher’s dream student. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that the house she lived in with her three siblings was basically a shack. It had no running water. No indoor plumbing. It had only two bedrooms for six people. Yet, here she was every morning, ready to take on the day.
While as a home school teacher, you know the full background of your students, it is no less easy. You manage to get by on a single income so one of you can stay home. This strain may cause stress, but you make it work because it’s what’s most important. You wonder how you’re going to get everything else done after the lessons are finished. There’s just not enough time in a day.
So, Dickens, teachers do have the best and the worst in the run of a day. But through all the ups and downs, all the joys and heartaches, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, we could do without all the stresses, of course. But they’re nothing a box of wine can’t solve…
If you are interested to write a guest post for A Momma’s View in regards to homeschooling (or any other subject that fits in), feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.