First of all, I’d like to say that I LOVE my job. I say that now because it’s Saturday. Come Tuesday, I might not feel that way. Regardless, life would be awful if I had to leave my little guy everyday to go to a job that I hated. *cough* My job from 2008-2009 *cough*. One of the best parts of my job is that every hour is something different and each day I learn something new. Often times people who aren’t in the “biz” don’t think of the teachers as the ones who learn. However, over the past 5 months I have learned many good things from both being a parent and from being a teacher. Here are some gems:
- Empathy. Since having Ben, I have developed a stronger empathy for my students and their parents. Earlier this year, I received a somewhat snippy and condescending email from a parent. At first, I was very upset and wanted to send her a snarky return email. After calming down, I took a step back and realized that the parent was just trying to protect her kid. I would have done the same thing. Last year, I may not have been as understanding. However, now I totally understand the love she has for her kid and how you don’t mess with Mama Bear’s cubs.
- What to do/not to do. Working with the teenagers, I can see where some parents have been really successful…and some less so. You do the math.
- Patience. Kids are kids. They’re goofy, grumpy, sassy, and sweet. I occasionally get BEYOND frustrated with some of my students. However, I have to remember that they are small people who don’t reason the same way adults do. It doesn’t necessarily erase my annoyance, but I can at least work through it.
- Age matters. Looking at the difference between freshmen and seniors is somewhat amazing. The other day I was talking to my freshmen about China and the differences between collectivistic and individualistic cultures. When I asked them to talk about what was good about collectivistic cultures, they could not wrap their minds around anything that would be good about collectivism. However, when you get to juniors and seniors, they are developmentally at a point where they can discuss the differences. As a psychologist, getting to see those developmental differences is amazing and really interesting. It’s definitely one of the perks of the job.
- Iron fist in the velvet glove. There is an art to not getting mad often, but when you do get angry…the kids pay attention. This is still a work in progress, but I’m getting there.
It’s kind of nice to have 100+ teenagers a year on whom I can practice “parenting”, in a sense. Hopefully, I’ll learn from others’ mistakes and Ben will be the model teenager. He’ll never talk back, always remember his homework, and help his friends in a non-cheating kind of way. #wishfulthinking