The Teacher Tip
Don Graves Monday: We Are Never Just Teachers
September 4, 2017
by Donald H. Graves
Our second daughter, Alyce, was born the second day of my first year of teaching. How delighted we were with little Alyce, who took in the world with her big eyes, and with Marion, our firstborn, who was saying her first words and pondering her new sister with a combination of delight and misgiving. Fortunately, Alyce didn’t have colic as Marion had. But she still needed to be fed around the clock, and Marion was being toilet-trained.
We lived in a second-floor four-room apartment. I had a small table in the corner of our bedroom where I pounded out my lessons on a small, upright, noisy Royal typewriter. But I had to steal time for this only when the children were awake, because the sleep-disrupting typewriter easily penetrated the thin walls between the rooms.
I wasn’t consciously aware of the emotional demands at the time, but I remember my emotional uptightness. I wondered if I’d survive my thirty-nine young adolescents. I had to be “up” for them, love little Alyce and Marion, and help my dear wife, who may have been saddled with a greater emotional load than I faced in the classroom. I’d sit at the kitchen table staring at a breakfast I often couldn’t eat, thinking only of problem students and lesson plans, feeling quite sorry for myself.My father was my role model: he’d done
the same thing at breakfast, staring off into space as he planned his moves on the job. I wish now I hadn’t followed my father’s lead, but my worry about the day ahead in the classroom stifled the present tense of attending to my family.
We are never just teachers. Our family, spouses, friends, and other
loved ones are a center of our emotional energy as well.
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