As mentioned in a previous blog post, Clive and I (Clare) are interviewing teachers who are part of our longitudinal study of teachers. Many of our teachers have had life-changing events – including becoming a parent. The teacher we were interviewing in northeast US this past week is a new Mom and is home on maternity leave. We did a division of labour: while I was interviewing the teacher, Clive babysat the new baby who is four months old. The question is: who had more fun? Me doing the interview with an amazing teacher or Clive babysitting an adorable youngster? It was a toss up because we both had a great time. So for budding researchers …. Do not be surprised that your role includes some unexpected duties (which no one told you about in grad school) – such as babysitting.
On a more serious note, a number of teachers in our study over the last 7-10 years have become parents (including adopting a child). It is interesting to see how they change once they become moms or dads:
- Juggling being a new parent and a teacher has led to changes in practices and views. All have found the dual role draining.
- New parents definitely have to shorten their work days! Working morning, noon, and night and all weekend which many had done as new teachers was no longer feasible.
- They developed a number of strategies to streamline planning and marking.
- When we asked how their views and/or values changed now that they are a parent many have commented they have become more compassionate. They appreciate how much parents have to trust teachers to care for their child (as they would) and how vulnerable children are. Their views towards parents in many cases have becoming more understanding while with the students they say are more flexible.
- Interestingly, a number have commented that now as a parent, they are not as focused on covering the curriculum (standards or expectations); rather, they have become more focused on the individual child to ensure he/she is happy and thriving.
- Some have said they have become less critical of themselves. They can only do so much and do not feel so guilty putting boundaries around their personal life.
There is so much more to being a teacher than covering the curriculum. There is so much more to being a researcher than just working with the data. You have to be flexible and be willing to assume some untraditional duties – just ask Clive.