Behind the Blackboard: Tips From a “Teacher Mom”

So. It’s August and back to school is in the air!

Here is some of what the moms (or dads) need to do:

  • Try to savor the last days of summer with your children doing all the things that you didn’t get to yet but promised you would.
  • Make sure your children have done their summer reading work.
  • Search Pinterest for the perfect back to school lunch notes to stick in their lunches. At least for the first day.
  • Begin the bedtime process a few minutes earlier each night until they are back to their normal bedtime of 8:00, not their summer bedtime of “whenever”.
  • Take the kids back to school shopping for new clothes, shoes, backpacks and supplies.
  • Get updated medical forms sent to the schools.
  • Make sure all before and after school daycare is set up, if needed.

Here is some of what the teachers need to do:

  • Begin the time consuming process of setting up their classrooms from scratch.IMG_6703
  • Buy things for their classroom.
  • Type and print name labels for notebooks, folders, and cubbies.
  • Put together homework folders, reading notebooks, math journals and more.
  • Finish reading their teacher guides for the first unit in the new curriculum that their school has just purchased for the new school year.
  • Complete course work to finish classes that will help us move to the next step.
  • Type welcome letters to students and families, along with about ten other types of letters to go home that first day about themselves, their classroom, their management routines and more.
  • Organize their classroom library.
  • Buy things for their classroom.
  • Plan their class schedule.
  • Listen to other people tell them that they got “the whole summer off”.
  • Start to plan their first week of lessons.
  • Cut things. Lots of things.
  • Laminate things. Lots of things.
  • Put up new bulletin boards.
  • Put together new shelves, stools, crates and other pieces of “furniture” for the classroom.
  • Give their husbands or wives random tasks at night to help out, like hole punch 24 folders.
  • Print out bus lists, birthday lists, and substitute information.
  • And did I mention BUY things for their classrooms?

Here is what teacher moms need to do:

All of the above.

Sigh.

As a “teacher mom”, let me fill you in on a typical day of working in the classroom with my children. Well, here is how I imagine it will be:  We all wake up and have breakfast. I load the car with all my new Dollar Tree and Target finds for the classroom and the lunches that I packed so that we can eat and work at the same time.  We will get there and the kids will help me carry the bags in while I get the stroller out and load the baby. The baby will nap peacefully in his stroller while the older two read quietly or color as I get all of my bulletin boards up and organize my books.  After a nice lunch in the classroom, the older kids will read to the baby while I organize my supplies. Before I know it, it’s time to leave because the school is closing for the day.

Wait. What? Here is how it REALLY goes: We wake up later than planned and we scramble to eat breakfast and I throw some clothes on the kids.  We get in the car and I get to the end of my road when I realize I forgot my Dollar Tree and Target bags, so I drive back to get them. We get to the school and the kids run out of the car and don’t help. I yell at them to please help. We get into the classroom. The baby is screaming. I hold the baby while I try to do something one handed. The kids go on the computers. The computers don’t work. The kids start arguing. I take out markers and paper and tell them to color. I try to settle the baby into the stroller so I can do some bulletin boards. He is still crying. I walk around with him instead. The kids are still arguing. The markers fall all over the floor. The kids get hungry. I realize I forgot to pack lunches. I pack them up and leave. The only thing I got done in that two hours was move a book box from one shelf to another and open a package of crayons. Oh well. There’s always tomorrow.

Things to know from an elementary teacher’s perspective:

  • Your child does not need three different pencil boxes. One is just fine. In fact, please only send one on the first day of school.  Also, there is no need for the box of 120 crayons.  Really.  Most likely you won’t be there to pick them all up when their pencil box gets knocked off the table. And let’s face it, this happens at least five times a day. 24 crayons are just fine. Also – take those 24 crayons out of their cardboard packaging prior to the first day of school.  Please do the same with the scissors, glue sticks, erasers, and pencils that you send in.
  • PLEASE make sure that if your child’s teacher asks for exact change for their snack milk, that you really do send in the exact change. It’s really hectic first thing in the morning and we won’t be able to make change from the $5 bill you sent in for the .45 cent milk.
  • Please make sure that your child knows what they are doing for lunch each day that first week and most importantly that first day. Because chances are, when we ask in the morning, there WILL be some tears of confusion.
  • Homework time is not ANY easier for a teacher mom. We also do the happy dance when our own children come home with no homework for the night. Or the next night…or the week. (Do you see where I’m going with this?)
  • Your child will most likely call us “mom” (or “dad”) at some point in the year. But it’s ok. Because my children will come home and call me by their teacher’s name as well.  ☺
  • Please don’t believe everything your child tells you. When in doubt, send us an email. We would rather you check with us first than believe something that sounds outrageous. (No, I did not tell the students that they could not use the bathroom at all during the day and had to hold it until they got home. I said that they should only leave during the important lesson I’m teaching at the moment if it’s an emergency.)
  • Lastly, your children are considered “ours” that school year. We invest all of those 180 days into those little beings and together we become one little classroom family. We love your children.  We will protect your children. We celebrate their successes.

Getting ready for the new school year is a lot of work for a teacher. A LOT of work.  Then doing the actual teaching is a lot MORE work. It’s something that I don’t think anyone else will truly understand unless they are one themselves, or are married to one. But most of us wouldn’t change it for the world. What other job lets you start fresh each year meeting 20 something new eager little faces that grow to love you? I feel honored to get to spend 180 days giving my all to teach and watch my students accomplish so much, while also getting to spend vacations and summers with my own children.  I am a teacher. I am lucky.

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10366214_10204014892358591_3855557498116115705_nJade is a First Grade teacher in Plymouth, MA and a mother of three young children as well as a stepmother to two more! She also works for Stella and Dot as a stylist with her extra time. She works best under pressure and can be found somewhere feeling overwhelmed almost on a daily basis.  She loves coffee, horrible reality TV, shopping, reading, sometimes crafting and spending time with family and friends. 

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