How Being a Teacher Will Make You a Ninja Parent

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author image_Christine FiorentinoThis article was written by Christine Fiorentino — a middle school ELA teacher for almost 10 years now. In her classroom, there's never, EVER a dull moment, and she wouldn't want it any other way! She strives to make learning fun, inspiring, and memorable. She is also the owner of Nosh - a vegan pudding company.

I’m a firm believer that one should never judge parents or personal methods of parenting. Heck, I feel unfairly attacked and judged when people have the nerve to say, “Teaching is so easy,” or the ever popular, “Please, you get out at 3:00 and have summers off! What a life!

If you’re a teacher, your blood boils just reading this. Soooo not the case, people! That being said, imagine how a parent feels being judged! Whether you have kids of your own or not, you most likely don’t know the daily ins and outs of someone’s home and parenting style, and so it’s unjust to throw stones. Similar to teaching, parenting is one of the most challenging jobs in the world, and probably the most important one. Also consistent with teaching, it’s one of the most rewarding and unpredictable jobs, as well.

They say you’re never completely and totally prepared for parenthood. You have a kid, get as ready as possible, roll with the punches, and do the absolute best you can. Kind of like every August, as we prepare for our next round of students, right? But if you think about it, no one is really more potentially prepared for parenthood than teachers, and here's why...

1. OUR BULLSH!T DETECTOR – Kids, your noses actually grow before our eyes…

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By analyzing body language, eye contact, breath control, and physical movement, we know when kids are lying before they even begin speakin.

2. OUR SIXTH SENSE – See all evil, hear all evil, sense all evil.

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We have eyes and ears on the backs of our heads. In fact, this sense is so keen, that we have the ability to sense the even slightest movement before it happens. There are moments we can even read your thoughts – sometimes a blessing, and other times, a curse.

3. OUR EYE FOR DETAIL – Expect an investigatory skill set on par with that of CSI agents.

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We can analyze the evidence of a class that became rowdy while we were gone based solely on the slightest change in desk or chair placement, crumb remnants, and missing pencils and/or erasers. And I pity the fool who tried to touch or rearrange belongings on the teacher’s desk. Try having a party someday while mom and dad are out for dinner, kiddos!

4. OUR SPIRIT GUIDE SKILLS – We’re like, the Buddah’s of education.

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We are skilled in the art of relating and connecting to kids in a calm, patient manner, making them feel safe and comfortable, while simultaneously respecting us. We tirelessly inspire, guide, and enlighten. If they are centered, the classroom is centered, and we are centered.

5. OUR MANAGEMENT OF SITUATIONS – Consider any situation…handled.

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Some days you’re Miss Honey from Matilda, some days you’re Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds. Situational balance is key. We know when it’s time to be their buddy, time to be their grown-up spirit guide, and time to lay the law and kick some ass. We even know when it’s a full moon based upon their behavior!

6. OUR HEARING & LISTENING SKILLS – These are not one in the same.

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To teach well is to learn two times over. Not only do we actually listen to students when they need a shoulder to cry on or someone to really hear them out, but we also make an effort to respond with useful, positive feedback. We talk with them, not “at” them. The best teachers show you where to look, but they don’t tell you what to see.

7. OUR ABILITY TO KEEP CALM IN CRISIS MODE – We make more minute-by-minute decisions than brain surgeons.

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We’re almost impossible to shock, stun, or scare. We are trained, experienced, and skilled in the art of staying calm during a crisis or emergency. Vomit? Period? Epic heartbreak (probably the third time this month)? BFF drama (fourth time this month)? A little jostle? Raging hormonal mood swings? No problem.

8. OUR LACK OF SOCIAL INTERACTION – What is this mythical “adult time” everyone is talking about?

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We have grown accustomed and well adjusted to a lifestyle that involves very little interaction with other adults throughout our day. On the rare occasion that we do experience this luxury, it takes a few minutes to adjust to the tone that comes with a regular, grown-up conversation.

9. OUR MULTITASKING SUPER POWERS – Life coach, entertainer, cheerleader, counselor, event planner, handwriting expert, personal assistant. The list goes on…

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Compassion and multitasking are two of our top skills. We spend our days putting the kids before ourselves and making sure their schedules run accordingly. We pick them up, drop them off, make sure they’re fed, teach them educational content, manners, and about growing into decent humans, while setting a proper example and acting as their therapists. We motivate them to set goals and work towards them, and we never give up on their potential. No matter how many times they screw up, tick us off, or drive us insane, they still make us smile and feel loved, and we still want to know they’re happy, safe, and well.

10. OUR PERSEVERANCE AGAINST ALL ODDS – Not all superheroes wear capes, ya know!

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We’re responsible for an average of 30 people (sometimes more!) every day, and molding them into the future of our great nation. We’ve got this!

So, there you have it! Teaching and parenting actually have a quite a bit in common. We’re both responsible for the safety and well being of kids. We want the best for them. Our kids drive us crazy, but we love them anyway. We both have days where we feel under-appreciated and overworked. But at the end of the day, the success, growth, and happiness of our children fulfills us in a way that makes it all worth it, keeps us on our toes, and gets us out of bed each day, coming back for more!


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