Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Supervising Teacher Day

Today our supervising teacher visited.

This is a day when you would like your house to resemble a slightly mussed, delightfully cozy Waldorf style classroom-morphed-into living room, with an art project thoughtfully in motion in the dining room and your coffee table strewn with Lego pieces being constructed into intricate structures (not guns) (or diving boards).

Every home school mother of the 70's and 80's can tell you about The Supervising Teacher Visits.  Bless their hearts, I do believe those moms thought if the house was not immaculate and the grades weren't 4.0, their darlings would be snatched from their arms.

But laws and teaching and education styles have changed a lot since then and the paranoia has essentially evaporated.  I have been told by veteran moms to make my meetings be in public, or at a restaurant.  Maybe foolishly, I resist this distrustful, wary stance; we are grateful and fortunate to work with a fantastic, supportive community school district and I have nothing to hide and nothing to fear.

However, The Supervising Teacher Visit still has capital letters attached to it in my head.

I kid you not, I queued "Classical Music for Studying" and pushed play.

I lay Eli down for his nap upstairs and pick up the fantastical  Lego grocery store (complete with aisles) that the kids built a couple weeks ago to display proudly on the coffee table set in the living room.  I hear voices in the entryway and hesitated.  I surmise that The Supervising Teacher may be early.  I do not have any eyeliner on. I set the Lego grocery paradise on the top step and reluctantly head downstairs to face my hour of critiquing without a lick of makeup on.  This is not starting well.

She is gracious and does have eyeliner.  The kids show her their projects and school work and chat amiably.  Cambria plays the piano and mentions that her aunt is a piano teacher. The Supervising Teacher asks if Cambria takes lessons from her aunt. 

I say,  "No, she's very, very good, but I wanted her to be able to be an aunt and not a teacher for their time together."

The Teacher looks at me: "And how does that work for you?  Mom and Teacher?"

Bahahaha terribly!  I laugh.  (I do not say that it works terribly.)  I do say that it is definitely the biggest challenge to homeschooling, having all the mom waiting when the teaching is done.

"And you don't have to get after them to get their school done?" she probes.

"No," I hear myself lie smoothly. I'm a terrible liar.  "I mean, not much.  Sometimes. I mean, only a little bit."

Somehow, for reasons unknown to me, my inbox is continually full of questions about teaching at home, curriculum, early childhood education, working with the public school system.  Last week I even got some lesson plans via text to look over. I find all of this hilarious.  I mean, who are we trying to kid, I am NOT an authority on homeschooling and certainly have never tried to portray an image of having it all together.  Ironically, the day I got the lesson plan text (and I did tell my inquiring friend this), Cambria was hitting a subtraction wall. 

I texted Deeann: (as I do on all days that are bad)
What abt me makes people ask me homeschool advice???? !!!!!
Abt to go crazy and it's only Monday!
Me (suspenseful voice) to Cambria (weeping): "If 3 + 7 = 10 then 4 + 7 eeeeequallllsssss. . . ."
Eli: ". . . .an elephant!!"

I mean, seriously, I am not lying, teaching Cambria math is one of the most brutally agonizing, frustrating things I've ever done.  It's like this: (I did not show The Supervising Teacher this video)

[For real, during Christmas at my inlaws, everyone was watching some popular war/action/blood/suspense movie (I hate war/action/blood/suspense movies) and I fell asleep next to Daniel on the couch.  I woke up, thinking I was teaching math, because everyone had finished the movie and was watching this video. It was so like my real life with Cambria that I thought maybe I was dreaming it.]

Well, 4+7 does not = an elephant, and Cambria and I dug out a bunch of cool math handbooks and stopped everything and focused on the subtraction principles. Truly, this is what I love about teaching my own kids. When they don't get it you can see, and stop, and slow down and explain and reteach. She's smart and though math may never going to be her forte, she tries hard and it's the biggest thrill when you can finally see the lightbulb turn on.  

I sit cross legged on the love seat and watch my kids show their work, their grades, their short stories and triumphs; Cambria's paintings and Jacob's business cards and ledger for his lawn care proceeds and my heart bursts wide open with pride in them.  They're bright and articulate and smart and they are doing just fine.  We will figure the math out.

It is a ton of hard work, this teaching/mamma thing.  It doesn't matter which educational option you choose for your kids, it's going to be work, and discipline, because education is preparing kids for real life. 

Is any part of parenting a walk in the park?

No, we just try to make it look like that on Supervising Teacher Day.

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