‘You can be a great parent and a great teacher’

Sue O’Brien’s article in TesTeacher or parent: don’t make us choose has stayed with me since I read it last week.

It’s important that I start by making it absolutely clear that I both sympathise and empathise with the writer of this piece. I have experienced the darkest of months in which my job sapped both my physical and emotional energy and left me an irritable husk during my rare periods of time off.

However, I feel very strongly that we need to shout from the rooftops that it is perfectly possible to be both a “good enough” parent and a “good enough” teacher. You need the right conditions, and you must say goodbye to perfectionism.

This is a subject about which I know a lot: I started my doctoral thesis on balancing teaching and parenthood in 2012, when my youngest daughter was two-years-old, and graduated last year. She’s now 8, and my other daughter is 10. Last Thursday, they came into school with me as their own school had an Inset (the following day, they went to work with my husband). This is permitted on exceptional occasions at my school.

Thanks to such occasions, my children know my classroom and my team. They know many of my students by name now and ask after them frequently. This has been a pretty regular feature of their childhood. I was on maternity leave during the ash cloud incident in 2010  that left many teachers stranded in various corners of the globe, and went in to help out, teaching with my six-month-old baby strapped to my front in a sling. The head memorably changed my daughter’s nappy while I taught a lesson and my eldest has accompanied me on school trips to Paris and Berlin. The only school they knew little of, which stole Mummy for days at a time (I frequently didn’t see them awake for whole chunks of the week), is the one of the darker periods of my career.

It makes me so angry to hear about schools that lead parents to believe in the impossibility of balancing the two roles. If I’d read last week’s piece 20 years ago with a plan to have children, I probably wouldn’t have bothered training to teach. My message here is that it is possible and that parents who are teachers must not imagine it is not.

Read the full article ‘You can be a great parent and a great teacher’

Do you agree? Aren’t the stresses of teaching just like many other jobs nowadays? Please tell us your thoughts in comment ssor via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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