Earlier in my career, as Vice Principal of a Junior High Catholic School, I remember having a meet and greet with several parents during Curriculum Night. One bold parent approached me and proclaimed, "Mr. Frehlich, you have been an educator at this school for several years, and my wife and I think you are a really good teacher. But, once you have children of your own, you will be an outstanding educator."
Needless to say, I was offended by this statement at the time. Although I did not overtly argue with the man, my stoic express did not portray how I felt inside at that moment. I couldn't understand what he meant by this bold opinion.
Fast forward many years, and now I am more grown up (so to speak), married and I have two children making their way through school. As I reflect on this incident, I truly understand the wisdom this man was trying to convey.
What Has Having School Age Children Done to My Teaching?
Let me start this section by sharing a video clip that was shared with me on twitter by @amichetti (Thanks for this)
As evidenced in this video, loving Parents are filled with struggles. How do you balance boundaries with freedom, self doubt with trust and compassion with control. Personally, now that I have children I am more compassionate, patient, trusting and more apt to give students the "benefit of the doubt". When dealing with difficult situations I usually take time to reflect, "What if this was my child?"
My teaching/assessment practices have evolved over the years, because of my own children. Here are some pedagogical practices I can thank my children for:
1. I refuse to give a student a "0" for an assignment, I will keep them in at lunch until they finish.
2. I allow students to eat snacks in my class, to ensure they are not hungry.
3. I make a habit of standing at the door to my room to greet students with a smile and a welcome to begin each class.
4. I allow students to re-attempt many of their assessments.
5. I communicate with parents more often on the good things I see in my classes.
6. I am quick to praise and slow to judge.
7. I give less homework, and more advanced notice for summative quizzes and chapter tests.
8. I try and work one-on-one during class with students while others are working on online labs and assignments like www.explorelearning.com.
9. I facilitate more and broadcast less.
10. My powers of perception and instinct seem more heighten.