What do you like best about teaching?
I get to do amazing things like teach kids how to read. Kids come to my class not knowing how to read or reading very little... and then they leave my class being able to fluently read entire books. That's so fun. 1st grade is such a fun age, too. Most of them love school and they love their teacher. :)
There's a story about a bunch of people sitting around at a dinner party and one wealthy business man starts asking the teacher about her salary, etc. "What do you make?" Her answer? "I make a difference." That's why I do it. I get to make a difference in the lives of kids. I get to be a role model, a Christian example, a positive influence and another person to love on 20-some little people every year. And each of those things are so important in our schools today.
How do you balance being a teacher and a mom?
My biggest answer to this question is one word: Corey. He does so much. He cooks, cleans, does laundry, baths, bedtime, on and on. There is no way I could work full time and be a good mom (and not lose my mind) without him.
I also think that teaching is a pretty "mom-friendly" occupation. I get to be home with my kids during the summer, over spring break and Christmas. And although it rarely happens, I could technically leave most days at 3:20 pm. (Every year I say I'm going to do better.) I'm also very blessed with a principal who always puts family first. He definitely understands that I am a mom first, teacher second.
How do you not lose it on the kids every chance you get when you come home?
Honestly, this is probably my biggest struggle. Using up all my patience on 22 kids that aren't my own and coming home with very little left for my own kiddos. Some years it's harder than others. I've caught myself, too, being used to my kids at school following my directions right away and then getting pretty short with my own kids if they don't do the same. The last couple years have been a little harder, too, because as much as I love having Sophie go to my school, it doesn't give me any downtime. As soon as my students left my classroom, she was there. (It sounds really selfish of me to even say that, doesn't it??) I need some alone time to recharge, so it was a little easier when I had that time after school before coming home to them. This year may be even more challenging since I will have two kids with me right after school. Corey's pretty good about giving me a little bit of downtime when I get home (to do mindless things like check blogs and Facebook). I'm aware that it's my biggest challenge, though, and I try to do the best I can.
How do you get grading done with little ones (and not fall asleep while doing it?)
I hardly ever bring anything home. I always brought things home before I had kids, but I rarely do now. There just isn't time in the evenings. And honestly... I don't grade a lot of stuff. I'm sure that's different in older grades, but in 1st grade, there isn't a lot of paper/pencil work to grade. At least I've tried to get away from a lot of the paper/pencil/worksheet kind of activities. We would have math homework a few times each week, and I had my classroom aide grade and record those. (We each get an aide for 1 hour during the day.) Most of the other math papers we did, I didn't grade. We would usually do them together in class or the kids would work on them alone, but then we would go over the answers together. My students spend an hour each day at literacy centers and there are always a few centers that have something to turn in. I would try to look at them quickly that day (or every couple days), put them in their cubbies and send them home. I never recorded any grades for center work. Almost all of our grades for report cards come from one-on-one assessments that I do each 9 weeks. I recycle a lot of papers, too. I figure that parents don't really want to see every single paper we do in class. :)
(All these pictures are from last year. I'm not even close to this point yet this year.)