I know, I know, a post about my mother doesn’t seem to have anything to do with education reform/reflection, but actually, my love/hate relationship with my mom starting in middle school is probably one of the biggest influences for my choosing to teach middle school. So here are some lessons I learned from my mom (whose birthday is today FYI:)
- Follow through on punishments (don’t promise punishments that you can’t follow through on…) I spent most of my time between 11 and 19 on some type of restriction. In the early days it was usually phone restriction but then I graduated to full-on grounding, car restriction, and other various restrictions. One particularly ineffective punishment was car restriction because my parents, very quickly, grew to depend on me and my car access, therefore, car restrictions were usually overthrown when it came time for me to get to work or school…
- Keep it simple (that goes for everything) My parents reformed how we thought about Christmas. One year it was dressing up, formal dinner, hurry up and clean-up the toys, and the next, it was relaxed, pj’s all day, movie marathon! We really looked forward to spending the day together, no schedule, just us. As a mom and teacher now, I often stop and think that if something feels too complicated and stressful, it probably is, and there’s probably a simpler approach.
- Glass Balls/Rubber Balls I promise it’s not dirty! My mom has a display in her office. Its a bowl full of different sizes and material balls. Some are more fragile, representing aspects of life that, when dropped, are prone to breaking (family, health, etc), and the rubber balls represent the aspects of life that can bounce back if they need to be dropped (work, friends, etc). The point is that if you find you are juggling too much, let the rubber ones go first, they can survive, but don’t risk the fragile ones.
- Girls, Girls, Girls! I am just remembering how important my friendships are, new and old, and how smart my mom was to maintain certain sanctioned trips with friends.
- No such thing as a girl job! My mom could pull weeds, drag limbs, and haul firewood with the boys, and she taught me that boys can wash dishes, clothes, and anything else (as long as they’re taught). My mom taught me independence and self-preservation. She also taught us all good manners and proper etiquette.
- If all else fails, blame your mom. One of the advantages of being a good mother is that you don’t care what people (namely stupid teenage girls) say about or to you! My mom still takes the heat for all of the unfair decisions, treatment, and rule changes that occurred amongst my two younger brothers and I, but she doesn’t care. She knows that we love and respect her more than any human on the planet, because any success that we achieve is because of what she said to us, and any compliment we get is a result of a rule that she imposed on us.
So, thank you mom. You gave me the power to: move past my 12-year-old students’ questions about whether I’m pregnant again (which I’m not), continue living after the millionth eye roll or sucked tooth, and wait patiently until students realize that I am waiting for them to stop talking while I’m trying to talk. You made me a 3rd year teacher who got nominated for Teacher of the Year because I payed attention in school and try not to lose my passion for learning more every day. Happy birthday!