Sunday, March 20, 2011


          I've been a teacher for nearly 10 years now, and a mom for 6 and a half of those.  Just when I think I have the role of mom and teacher balanced -something changes and my system crumbles.  On days like today, I wonder whether I'm successfully riding the ride of motherhood and teacher.  Am I doing either job justice?  Am I taking time to enjoy the ride of either?  Today, I sit surrounded by papers to grade.  I plan my week, and pray that my bedtime will not stretch past 11.  I watch my children playing around my work bubble, and I sigh that I am not a part of their world today.  I'm definitely not enjoying the ride of teacher today because I feel guilty about missing my ride through motherhood. 

As I fret about missing out, I reflect on how I can make my work more efficient.  I search for anything to reassure myself that I am getting better at this mom-teacher thing.  I search for any trick or strategy that will improve how I do either job.  As I search I list out my improvements as if I am writing down a grocery list of needs. 

Improvement #1: 
Whenever possible use the books that you read with your own children in classroom lessons.  Your children will provide some great insight on how your students will relate to the book, and you will have a chance to think through the strategies that you could teach through that book.

Improvement #2
Find a book or two that you know inside out.  Refer to those books whenever possible.  Your students will learn to know those books as well as you do.

Improvement #3 
Use as many parent volunteers as possible.  For the past 2 years, I have had at least 3 parents in per week.  They have helped with tons of math centers, bulletin boards, and in our class library.

Improvement #4 
Assess students daily throughout lessons and daily work.  I keep a notebook handy where I can do a quick check of what my students have mastered.  This list helps me create my small group instruction.

Improvement #5
When that pile on your desk becomes a daunting moutain, collect all of it, take it home, and sort after the kids are in bed.

Improvement #6
Assign as many jobs to students as possible.  They can't wait to help clean and organize. 

Improvement #7
Looking at notebooks.  Yikes, this has taken me some time to improve.  When I'm looking at  specific items, I try to use my specials time and my handy, dandy notebook to walk through each student's work.  This gives me a quick idea of how they are doing with that concept.  When I do my end of the unit/quarter work, I allow students to do a self-reflection and mark evidence of each concept with post-it notes.  Then I meet with each one and they give me more details in our discussion about their understanding of the concepts or strategies.  This has become one of my most favorite times to reflect with the students over their unit work.  When I want to spend more time with their entries, I make a copy and take them home to read rather than carting 25 notebooks home.

Improvement #8
Use to give each spelling group their word test.  They print out their tests already graded! 

Improvement #9
Use the end of the unit Math assessments to pinpoint exactly which concepts your students struggle with, and use that data to form your small group remediation lessons.

Improvement #10 
Instead of trying to read everything that kids are reading, allow peers to share books with each other.  Kids are more apt to try a new book, if their friend refers it.  I'm also beginning to have parents that have read a book come in and share with the students.

Improvement #11 
At home, plan your meals out a month at a time.  Buy as many of the ingredients as you can in one shopping trip each month.  Then run to the store for the fresh ingredients on your way home from work.  (I usually send my husband, since I am the first one to get to the kids.) 

Improvement #12
When cooking, double the recipe for meals that are freezable.  Eat half of the meal, and freeze the 2nd half for another night. 

I'm sure I'll improve many, many more times on my teacher-mom path.  I enjoy both roleso much, but sometimes I wonder if I'll ever figure it all out.  Will I ever reach that moment when I won't have to change and everything will fall into its perfect place?  I'm sure the answer is no, but I can dream can't I?


  1. I can understand your search for balance. You are right that it stays difficult, because we want to be very good teachers and super moms. You have a list of excellent tips for yourself. One thing that I try to keep in mind is that my children have only one mom, the students will have many teachers during their school time.

  2. Balance is so hard and I understand your struggle. But, I know you're amazing in both of these roles! Have you read the post your wrote last night? ;-) It's a great example of how your roles work simultaneously benefiting both your children and your students.