Parent Like Everyone is Watching

Parent Like Everyone’s Watching

Back in in my third year of teaching at my current building I was being observed by my principal. I chose a math lesson for him to watch, which sounds fine, but ironically my principal at the time was also my eighth grade math teacher so the pressure was on. The lesson was on naming decimal place values, and it seemed to be going along well. I had planned carefully to make an exciting, new version of the information. Confidently, I stopped and asked if there were any questions about what I had just taught. A boy in the second row tentatively raised his hand. “you’re acting different”, he puzzled, “why are you being so nice?


Clearly I was putting on a good show for my principal on what a “typical lesson” looks like in my classroom. I laughed awkwardly and wasn’t fired…so that was a plus. But it was in that moment that I kind of wanted every classroom moment to observation-worthy. I want kids to get the ‘Grade A’ lesson every day; bells, whistles, and niceness in all.

Last summer I was asked to watch my neighbor’s kids in addition to my two. We are blessed with great neighbors and often go back and forth helping with each other’s kids. At the time I’d been running an unexplained low fever for five days and my then two-year-old was going through an angry phase. (That lasted a year, but that’s another post.) Surprisingly it was the best day I’d had in a while. Because of the extra charges, I worked hard to keep them busy with art projects and activities. I played with them instead of peripherally. The kids were happier, which in turn meant I didn’t end the day crying in exhaustion in the bathroom with a glass of wine. I’m realizing it’s not a bad thing to parent as if there’s an audience. Maybe when times are hard that’s when we up our game.

A couple people just stopped reading this. The sheer thought of “upping” any game when you just want to sleep made some readers give me the virtual finger. But hear me out. It’s nearing the end of May. This is the teaching and parenting equivalent of the 25th mile of a 26-mile marathon. We are over tired, and over-‘project’ed, and over it all. But here’s the truth- so are they. These kids have just as much right to be tired and over-worked as us. They just show it by forgetting systems we established in October, and taking large bags of Hot Cheetos out for a fire drill (true story).

This afternoon while teaching, around 3:00 (a.k.a the point every day when I wonder if I’ll make it) something switched in me. On a whim, I decided to “up” my game. As the students were losing any and all interest in the material, I started walking around while they were working. I noticed the kids that had beautiful handwriting, (despite the wrong state matched with the wrong capital), I joked with the kid who hasn’t smiled in two weeks, and I challenged the class to a round of “Beanboozled” if they got a hard question right. Those kids left calmer and happier than they had in days. Us teachers and parents get easily caught up in our pity party for dealing with these unruly kids on the cusp of summer.

 As we endure these last few weeks before school’s out, I’m going to put on a good show. Am I going to have to fake my enthusiasm at some moments?
 Most definitely.
But we are going to make it. We always do.

1 Comment

Mom - May 24th, 2019 at 5:27pm

Oh, you said it so well. Why not put on the show - fake it til you make it. And it makes everyone happier!