But mostly, defeat.
For those who are interested, here is a transcript of the blessing. I like it because it’s a song, so it’s easy for the kids to learn. Plus, it is in a repeat pattern, which made it easy to teach them because I would sing a line and then they would sing a line. Now, we all sing the whole thing together.
God our father,
God our father,
May we ask your blessing
May we ask your blessing
There are a lot of ways that being a mom has influenced me as a teacher. I try to treat each student as one of my own. I hold high expectations for them, try to teach them as much as I can, and then tell them how proud I am of them as much as possible. In the end, you hope that results in a student who leaves your classroom knowing that they are actually smarter than when they entered and that their potential goes out the door with them as they continue on.
There are less times when teaching influences my parenting. I think it’s probably because my kids are one and three and my students are middle school kids. I bet as my own get older, I’ll use more of my classroom knowledge in my home life, but for now it’s pretty rare. In the past couple weeks, though, I’ve noticed that I am using a very simple principle from the classroom at home and it is making a difference.
When I’m teaching, I can cover any number of learning goals in a lesson. A lesson on one non-fiction passage might touch on theme, author’s purpose, reading comprehension skills, and test taking strategies all at one time. It’s good to teach like that because it exposes students to complex thinking and analysis, but it can be tricky when you are evaluating them. They can’t focus on 15 different learning goals at once and achieve them all at the same time, at the same rate. It’s just not practical. So, my job is to teach them several skills and practices at once to expose them to higher order thinking, but when I turn around to evaluate them after the lesson, I really only focus on one or two key skills that I wanted them to learn.
Without realizing it, I have been using this practice at home, too. I can’t expect my kids to be perfectly behaved and civil all the time in every manner possible. But I can show them everything I expect, and then pick one or two things at a time to focus on.
Dinner was the best example. Dinner has been going pretty good around our house lately, but the one thing that continues to be a problem is the time we eat. The kids are famished by the time they get home from school, but there’s not really enough time for them to have a snack without ruining their dinner. I had been telling them they just had to wait while I cooked as quickly as I could, but that resulted in two whining/crying kids, a frantic chef, and a husband who walked in on all of this and didn’t want to stay (…not that I could blame him!).
One night after the kids went to bed, I reflected back on the dinner haze and tried to figure out how I can make it better. Just like when I plan a lesson for school, I started out by asking, “What is my priority here?” My two priorities for dinner are fairly easy. I want the kids to eat something healthy, and I want us to all eat dinner together. Both of those are really important to me, so whatever solution I came up with had to satisfy both those things. Finally, I realized that letting the kids snack on fruits and veggies while they waited for me to finish cooking met both my goals. If they filled up on snacks, at least they were snacks that met my priority of healthy eating. And it kept them happy so that by the time Chris got home, we could all sit down and eat together, which satisfied my second priority.
Now, when we get home from school and work, the kids are able to sit at the dinner table and snack on apple slices, cheese, carrots, celery, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, grapes, raisins, and anything else I can find that are healthy snacks for them. And I let them eat as much as they want. Truth be told, they are eating more healthy food now than they ever did at actual dinner time. Especially Gracie. She parks herself at that table and stuffs her face and babbles at me while I cook away. It’s actually a lot of fun!
I think it’s so funny that I set priorities in all other areas of my life, but that it never dawned on me to set them with my own kids. So far, it’s been working out really well. It’s the perfect reminder to me that my kids are tiny little students. They are learning so much every single day, but it’s okay if they don’t learn it all at one time. Setting priorities for them is a great way for me to help set them up for success now and in the future, too.
One thing I love about Gracie is that you always know where you stand with her. She does not hide her feelings. No festering there. She lets your know right away how she is feeling, even when her emotions change every 3.6 seconds.
The following pictures were taken in less than one minute tonight at the dinner table. I just sat there and kept clicking.
Oh, Gracie Girl. You just won’t do, child.