Parenting as a Teacher, Teaching as a Parent
Not even two weeks past the end of the prior school year, I'm giving plenty of thought to next year. One particular change on my mind is that my oldest child will now be the same age as my students. It's been 15 years in the making, this convergence in my life, with sophomores in my classroom and a sophomore at home. As a result, I've been thinking about what I've learned as a teacher that helps me as the parent of teenagers, and what I've learned as a parent that has helped me teach.
My teaching experience has helped me take the long view with my children. I started teaching in the mid-1990s, and have had the pleasure of keeping in touch with former students now well into their adulthood, into careers (including teaching) and parenthood. I've developed some sense of how many different paths there are, and I'm comfortable with the uncertainty and ambiguity at this point, confident that young people tend to find their way, with or without parental help, or approval. I've seen many former students go directly to college and then graduate schools or work, what many of us consider the typical or expected route. Some former students have gone in different directions, following their own vision and ambition to other productive and rewarding experiences. Some of these young adults get lost for a while, some deal with illnesses and addictions. Don't get me wrong: there are reasons to be scared. There are also reasons to be excited. And there's no way of being certain what's coming. I'm going to continue giving advice and support, sharing my values and expectations, but I'm under no illusion that I can choose a path for my children, solve their problems, or protect them from the world.
My teaching experience has also helped me put my children in charge of their education as much as possible. When they need to work something out with their teachers, I expect Parenting as a Teacher, Teaching as a Parent - Capturing the Spark: Energizing Teaching and Schools - Education Week Teacher: