Monday, August 18, 2008

Take Your Daughter to Work Year

By Margy McCarthy

There are many facets of my persona that are unusual, but the top of them all has to be my choice of occupation.

I teach.

Okay- that doesn’t seem weird. Lots of people teach. But I teach middle school.

It is the rare adult who voluntarily signs up to spend seven hours a day in a room with a group of twenty-eight hormonal adolescents. When you multiply that by six classes and a homeroom, you might think you have a sure-fire recipe for insanity. Maybe you do. Some days I would swear to it. But for some reason or other, I keep going back. I love it.

So call me crazy.

For the past three years I have taught the accelerated level of eighth grade language arts, which means that every summer the registrar scrapes off the top layer of test scores and sends them to me. This year that top-floating layer includes my daughter, Shriek.

When people learn that my daughter is my student, I get mixed response. Some think it’s fine, but more often they think there might be a conflict of interest or some sort of subtle favoritism. These are obviously the people who don’t know me very well. When Shriek comes into my classroom, she does what every other kid does. She acts like every other kid, and I think the odds are pretty good that there are a fair percentage of students in her class that don‘t know we are related at all. If it’s awkward for her when I give a well-deserved lecture (her only comment about it so far is that it’s “a mixed blessing”) it doesn’t show. I don’t call on her any more than the others or any less. If anything, she’s at a slight disadvantage, because I won’t look over her language arts homework before she turns it in.

But I have to admit, I like seeing her in my classroom.

I was, after all. her first teacher. We’ve read together for thirteen years- it’s just that now she gets graded for it. Six years ago, her brother, Snooze, was in my class-- and it was probably the best thing that ever happened to us.

You see- the classroom puts me in a different light. I play a different role. At home, it’s just Mom saying “put the dishes away” or “pick up the dog poo in the back yard,” and you know if you put it off for another hour nothing terrible will happen. But at school, everybody does what Mom says the second she says it- they take out their journals and follow the prompt. They write copious notes on capitalization. They read stories and do vocabulary flashcards- and if you’re lucky, she’ll get out the slates and let you show that you know your definitions by drawing pictures. They love to listen to her read- something you’ve been doing so long you take it for granted- and they laugh when she says something funny. Which she actually does quite a bit.

At school- you figure out that although Mom is kind of weird-- it’s the cool kind of weird. She knows what she’s talking about up there. And wow. The kids like her.


Angie Ledbetter said...

Go, Mom! Isn't it great to be seen as a REAL person for a change, instead of the maid-chauffer-cook woman who hangs around the house without any other life or ability to display?

For 4 years I taught Elem. SPED down the street from my kids' campus with interconnected cafeteria, and that was too close for them. LOL. But I still visit their high school once in a various outfits (Elfie, Wolfie, Santa, Cupid) to "bond" with them. Oh boy, they see me in a different light then. And the costume therapy, as I call it, is preparing them not to be shocked or scared of life. ;)

Hats off to you for teaching those walking hormones! May the force be with ya.

MargyWrites said...

It is great. Important too, I think, to have them aware of the different dimensions of Mom at this particular wacky age. I think it helps.

But I may be requesting those costumes sometime. (Wolfie?!)

Angie Ledbetter said...

Had to pop back in to share a video. It ties in with costumes and Olympic events. It makes me feel good about myself and made me laugh. Enjoy!

Daisy said...

I hear you - believe me, I hear you! I taught 6th grade for 9 years and enjoyed it immensely. One of those years, my daughter was in the "other" 6th grade classroom, but we did so much team teaching and grouping that I taught her for about 50% of the day.