How Being a Father Impacted My Teaching

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photo credit: pipitdapo via photopin cc

photo credit: pipitdapo via photopin cc

When you’re a dad, Father’s Day is a wonderful time to be celebrated by your kids. My children shower me with cards, drawings and promises to do anything I want on my special day (they even keep some of those promises).

On this Father’s Day, I reflected on my teaching career and how it changed, when my children came along.

The second that thought entered my mind, my teaching philosophy changed.

For nearly a decade as a classroom teacher, I was strict, aloof and generally indifferent, in how I dealt with my students. They were there to learn, and I was there to teach — not to be their friend.

It was not uncommon for me to say things to students like, “No one leaves the room, unless you’re bleeding from the eyes,” or “Don’t speak until spoken to,” or other horrible, unfeeling statements. My problem was that I never looked at students as children who were loved by parents. They were just faces in desks, in my classroom to absorb knowledge.

Being a father changed everything

The love I felt for my children was something I’d never comprehended. When they were infants, years from school, I knew that how they were treated by others would be more important to me than anything.

It was like the proverbial light was switched on. I realized that my students were the most important things in the world to their parents, and how they were treated by teachers was critical to those parents. If I were to be a better teacher, it had to begin with caring for every student, as if she were my own.

From that day forward, I had numerous student teachers. We discussed many things about being an effective educator.

The most important lesson, though, that I ever shared was this: When dealing with students, remember someone loves them, and when you speak to that person, and they ask about an issue with their child, you always want to be able to say that you care and that you treat the student, as if she were your own child.”

Thanks to Ethan and Lauren for teaching me this amazing lesson and for making me a better teacher.

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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