I used to think I would be a natural at parenting. And in some ways I am. But there are aspects of parenting that I never thought about. Now I realize that when I thought about having kids, I mostly thought of them as babies, not as babies growing into something else.
I used to think that all the rules I had in my head and the expectations I had for my kids would just be followed, no problem. That’s what I did - for the most part anyway. I used to think that a punishment would be enough to convince my child he or she did something wrong and then they wouldn’t repeat it. Now I know that each child is so different, and each situation has to be looked at differently as well, and that all the rules and expectations I had in my head can mostly be thrown out the window.
I used to think it would be easy, with some bumps in the road. Now I know it’s difficult and mostly bumpy, with some smooth sections. The smooth sections are the ones that make you forget about the bumps.
I used to think I would never, ever let my kids __(fill in the blank here!)__. Now I know there is no way I could have known enough to decide that before my kids were born. Example: my son refused to sleep in his bed, and slept instead on the couch, for almost an entire year. I realized a few weeks into it that while I did not like this fact, it wasn’t so important in the scheme of things. Was he sleeping? Yes. Why should it matter where he slept? I used to think I would be rigid about those rules because I also used to think my kids would just follow them, no questions asked. Ha!
Now I know. Being a mom means making it up as you go along, compromising, rethinking your stance all the time. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don’t.
Being a teacher is much like this. I used to think that teachers maybe just have a special thing that guides them every day and makes them natural teachers. After 20 plus years of teaching, now I know that isn’t completely true. Yes- teachers are often masters at the content of what they teach, and yes - some teachers are more naturally good at it. But finding what works with our students is a different matter. Teaching involves a ton of trials with failures and successes. Good teachers, in my mind, don’t always stick to something because it’s always worked. Good teachers try new ways and new lessons all the time. Sometimes they work - sometimes they fall flat. But they don’t stop trying. After all, our students are always changing, so we should change with them and learn with them.
Like parenting, teaching involves mostly bumpy roads with some smooth parts. And like with parenting, those smooth parts are what makes you forget about the bumps and keep us doing what we’re doing.
Each of our students is so different also. We can’t pretend to meet all of their needs all of the time, or completely know or understand them always, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. Finally, teachers, like parents, are not perfect. Some of us have more experience than others, but all of us are learning as we go.