How I survived teaching first grade- pregnant

 Surviving Teaching pregnant!!

Note: I’ve been working on this post for some time- in fact, my baby is now nearly 6 weeks old. But in order to survive pregnancy as a teacher, I had to let some things go (this post being one of them).

 

1. Schedule bathroom breaks- If at all possible, reach out for help- ask someone, anyone, if they can pop into your room for 3 minutes each day at some point to give you a break fort he bathroom. And whether or not you feel like you have to go (at the end you will always, perpetually have to go) you go. I was so lucky that there are some paraprofessionals/ IAs that could come in to give me a quick break. I also had some push in support for my students, so my biggest  challenge was the long waddle down the hallway to go to the bathroom 5 times a day.

writer3 1

2. Make Lists- After weeks and weeks of back and forth across my classroom, down the hallways to the copier I decided to get organized. This is especially important with the infamous “pregnancy brain”.  How many times did I finish getting my math lessons copied and prepped, only to realize that I needed to head back to the copier to get materials for the next day’s writing lesson?  I made three lists- Prep, Make, Copy.  That way I could multitask my visit to the copier with going to the book room as well.  It will definitely help save those swollen feet and sore hips!

3. Establish routines that support independence– This is one of those things that is a good idea to do- pregnant or not. I kept in mind my growing bump before it got too big. We spent lots of time practicing transition routines and how to distribute papers. We practiced clean up “over and under” the tables. These little lessons proved so valuable when it was hard for me to get around. I didn’t have to start nagging students to pick up the crayons under the tables because it had become routine.

4.Get a yoga ball chair! I got one early in the year and it was my best friend! I got one with a back so I could stabilize myself. it also had wheels, so in those last painful weeks, I could wheel myself between the student tables.

LuxFit Exercise Ball Chair, Black

This is the one I got and LOVED!

5. Say YES to help! and NO to more work-This is a two part one- and this one was tough for me. I don’t like to accept help, I typically just like to get things done. I learned quickly that its ok to accept help. Let your team member drop your kiddos off at special, or grab something from your mailbox when they offer.

About the second part- you don’t have to say no in a lazy, self pityijng way. Opportunities to take on new things- new committees, new initiatives- just seem to throw themselves at teachers. I was on a committee I loved, but knew that the amount of time I’d need to spend out of the classroom, and the timing of my maternity leave would not be ideal, so as difficult as it was, I bowed out.  It’s ok to say you have enough on your plate!

Coffee Cup_3

6. Enjoy a little caffeine- I definitely enjoyed caffeine in the form of a morning and afternoon coffee (with the OK of my doctor of course).  It literally helped me to survive, especially in the afternoons when I was in a state of exhaustion I’ve never felt before. So despite the judgmental glares you may receive, drink that coffee and enjoy every sip.

 

 

5 Things I’ve Learned as a Teacher Mom

1. Saying Yes to my child really does make a difference.

Just today my kindergartner  came home so excited. Yesterday he forgot his lunchbox at school, so he had to bring the old spare today with his lunch. When he got to school, he wanted to move all of his lunch things over to his real lunchbox… and his teacher helped him do it, She has 16 other 5-6 year olds to care for and- let’s not forget- educate, but taking two minutes to help him with his lunchbox dilemma made a big difference to him.

Now I’m sorry for all of those little missed “yes” opportunities I’ve lost with my students over the years. 

 

2. The little things we say do matter!

My fourth grader had a ridiculously difficult third grade experience. This year, in fourth grade he has had an AMAZING teacher. After watching him doodle and work on his craft as a writer, she told him “I sure hope you invite me to your first comic book signing when you become famous.” For my 9 year old, this comment has been so crucial to building him up… this comment made months ago, comes up time and time again.

I’m thankful for all of the “reading stars” who I “am so glad are in my class”… 

 

3. The little things we do matter too!

My kindergartner has asthma. Not just the kind that requires an inhaler after he’s been running around, but the kind that can get scary and require hospital visits and stays. A few weeks ago it was his turn to be Star of the Week! This chance only comes around once in a kindergarten lifetime, so I let out a sad sigh when the Monday of his turn I received a call from his school nurse. He spent the rest of the week home, plagued by asthma attacks, fevers, and ear infections. His teacher e-mailed daily to check in on him. When he had missed a few days, she anticipated his sadness about missing all the special jobs that come with star of the week, so she e-mailed to reschedule his week. This sick kid peeled his whiny hiney off the couch to jump up and down with joy!

I wonder what little things I can do to make my students jump for joy!

4.School-home communication and involvement means a lot to parents!

I have sent e-mails, made phone calls, and invited parents into my classroom on a regular basis throughout my teaching career. I enjoyed getting to know them and showing off all we had been doing and learning at school.

I don’t think I realized just how much of a difference it makes as a parent to get that e-mail with a silly story from the day, to be mystery reader for the class, or to sit in the audience of a Readers’ theater performance in my child’s classroom. Tomorrow, in fact, I have the opportunity (being on maternity leave) to go do a gallery walk of my fourth grade class’ Hole in One projects, which were the culmination of their geometry unit (angles and all!).

I will seek opportunities to invite parents, not because my administration says so, but because it makes a difference. 

5. Saying thank you to the teacher does matter.

This one I learned as a teacher, and embrace as a mom. I look for opportunities to regularly thank my childrens’ teachers. After all, they love my children, care for them, and TEACH them!  When my children are learning, feeling great about themselves, and being coached through the social landscape by a teacher who appreciates them, I am so thankful… and saying thank you makes a difference. As a teacher, receiving these words of appreciation make all the difference!

I will always show my appreciation for my children’s teachers.

6. Parents are doing the best they can. 

Let’s be real.. the above list is just the beginning of what I’ve learned, but I’m sitting here typing with one hand as I hold my newborn and listen to my boys do their nightly reading.  My son went to school this morning with his hair sticking straight up in the back. My other son had his shirt on backwards (I noticed as he dashed off the bus). Sometimes they “forget” to brush their teeth in the morning. Sometimes we forget their mittens and hats on a cold day… and sometimes we even*gasp* forget to do/ run out of time for homework. Is it because school and education is not important to me? No. It’s because being a mom is about more than all these things. In this life I love these little beings with all that I am. Sometimes that means snuggling up in my recliner chair with my 5 year old as he falls asleep early in my lap. Sometimes I make homemade pancakes and don’t check that my fourth grader remembered his trumpet on B and D3 days (what is with these complicated schedules anyway??? ). So enough with the judgmental teacher talk I sometimes hear…

I will give parents a break.