If you teach kids like I do, then at some point you’ve probably asked students which superpower they would choose if they could have one. And you also have an answer of your own to that question. For me, the answer was always the ability to fly… until I became a mom a few months ago.
Since the birth of my daughter, I’ve had to adjust to many things: no more impromptu evenings out to see a concert (for the moment) or unplanned shopping trips; no more luxurious sleeping in on the weekends or easy trips to the nail salon. I’m happy to make these adjustments, though. I was more than ready to trade in some of my freedom and convenience for the gift of motherhood. What I’m having trouble giving up is the ease with which I used to be able to “lean in” to my career.
I’m still teaching and so I haven’t had to give that up, but teaching is one of those careers that isn’t quite a career on it’s own. It’s a wonderful, important job with many rewards for those passionate about it. But it’s my belief that to have a career as a teacher you truly have to do what Sheryl Sandberg famously calls “leaning in.”
Actually, the more I think about it, the image of leaning in doesn’t quite capture what we have to do as teachers with careers, because it implies that we are trying to get to the inside of something. In fact we are as inside as we can get. We are in the classrooms where the educating of students actually happens. Instead, what we’ve got to do as career teachers or teacherpreneurs is really to teach students inside the classroom and at the same time to lean out, up, through and around, to find those places where we can connect and communicate meaningfully within our profession. Ideas, issues, our concerns and questions related to teaching all come out of our classroom practice to influence the profession. Career teachers also ask questions and learn from others beyond our inside spaces. I’ve worked hard to do this as a leader in the schools where I’ve taught, through writing this blog and participating in Collaboratory and other virtual discussion opportunities, and connecting with other writers and teachers virtually. I’ve written on education policy, and I wrote a book sharing teaching methods I’ve developed and believe work for kids. I’m used to being able to work with other teachers as a consultant whenever I’m not teaching. I have new ideas and plans to write more books.
But I have to negotiate all of that within my new world as a full-time teacher and a full-time mother.
At this very moment, in fact, I am composing this blog post using a speech to text app on my iPhone while I walk around my apartment wearing my baby on my chest in a wrap as she falls asleep. This is a breakthrough moment for me, because for weeks I’ve been composing this post in my head while I’ve walked home from school, nursed my baby, held my baby, walked my baby around the apartment. But putting a 3 1/2 month old down and sitting at the computer? Moments like those are few and far between, and when they come, there are urgent matters pertaining to my classroom teaching or my personal life (like paying bills) that must be attended to before I can write a blog post.
There are so many ideas and questions I’ve wanted to pose through writing to my community of educators–to you–but I haven’t been able to, because my baby naturally has to come first.
That brings me to the superpower I now need. Can I have it both ways? Can I be a teacherpreneur and the mother of a tiny child? I have a supportive husband who takes care of her during the day while I teach, but when I come home, I’m on duty, while he works. When she naps, we get to cook dinner and send those most pressing emails and pay bills and that sort of thing.
It really is a new normal. I’m not complaining. I love it. But the superpower I need right now to sustain my career is the ability to do two things–well–at once. I know this is a skill moms are famous for. Are teacherpreneurs too?
In this very moment, through a combination of very old and very new technology–the old technology being the woven cloth wrap that is so comfortable and intimate for the two of us and the very new technology of this speech to text app–I’m able to walk around my apartment holding her and speaking this blog post. Temporarily, I have the superpower I need.
But the event for New York based education writers that I had to miss last week? The leadership position at my school I probably won’t apply for this year? The #WholeNovels institute I dream of hosting this summer? I haven’t found a superpower life-hack for those yet. My status as teacherpreneur feels somewhat tenuous.
The baby is now asleep, and in a moment, I’ll carefully lower her off my chest and out of the wrap. I’ll cook dinner and then hopefully transfer this text to my blog platform.
Who is here with me? Who has answers and superpowers I don’t have? Let’s talk.
Sent from my iPhone