Since Tracy decided to get the ball rolling on the choosing not to work in the summer thing and the reflecting after a year of changes in teaching thing, I decided as a working teacher mom that I should jump on the bandwagon. Like Tracy, I have chosen not to work summer school. However, I will be completing somewhere around 30-40 hours of curriculum development and attending one conference in July. So still a working mom–sorta. But I’m excited about the extra time I’ll have to spend with my son. And since summer is in full swing, I have also taken time to look back at my successes and shortcomings this last school year and the one before, when the plans to be a working mom began.
I found out I was pregnant with my first child right after open house in the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. So, from the very start, I experienced changes. Thankfully, I work with great administrators and co-workers who understand pregnancy, familial issues and the like. I’m also grateful that I taught mostly seniors that year. As 17 and 18-year-olds, they were able to understand why I had to run to the restroom and leave them to fend for themselves while reading Othello for a few minutes. I’m sure many of you working mommas can relate to pregnancy getting in the way of doing your job.
That being said, I got through that year. Actually, I kicked ass that year. I taught students whom I had been teaching for three years. I coordinated Senior Project at my school (a detailed, research-based assignment requiring students to present a product to members of the community acting as judges). I helped MANY students graduate who, before that year, were far from on track to graduate. I helped frustrated students pass reading assessments. There were so many successes. So many students I would miss. So much enthusiasm despite my horrible pregnancy.
This last year? Well. Suffice it to say I did not kick ass as hard in the 2011-2012 school year. After the summer off with a newborn, I returned to work complete with hormones, separation anxiety, and pessimism. I missed my son like whoa. I stepped down from the leadership team at my school to avoid later meetings and additional commitments because I seriously felt like baby brain was leaving my desk full of papers and other things in places I couldn’t remember.
Did I make significant gains with struggling readers this year? Yes. Did I form strong relationships with students and help them with issues in their lives beyond academics? Totally. But did I also grade papers later than usual, skip meetings because the baby needed to go to the doctor, cry on my way to school, get impatient with my kid and my students (in the same day), and get to my classroom door as the bell was ringing in the morning (totally embarrassing) while students made fun of me for my tardiness? Hell yes.
I’m not totally certain if I had more successes than failures, but I will admit that because I was adjusting and being pulled in so many directions, I was no teacher of the year. It is hard for me to admit my weaknesses because before I got pregnant, teaching was #1 on my priority list. But now, I see my “needs improvement” areas. I understand what it takes to manage everything a little better, and I know without a shadow of a doubt, I’ll do better next year.
My success this year, my first real year as a working momma, is that I survived. Plain and simple. And that now, I don’t look at it as a burden. I don’t look at my job and wish to God that I wasn’t working. I got through it. I’m good at it. I have already made plans to help myself be more organized and “on the ball” next school year. I’ve committed to writing curriculum over the summer while I manage my little guy and our house.
Have any of you reached any milestones like your first year as a working momma? Do you have any pointers for me as I figure everything out and gear up for a fresh start in August? Please share!