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Healing the Heart of the Teacher

alec vanderboom

Yesterday, I passed my Fifth Homeschool Review. It marked an anniversary of sorts. My fifth year as a teacher.

I've loved teaching my whole life. My favorite memories are working in Children's Theater, being a Camp Counselor, and teaching Vacation Bible School. I tear up at those "Dangerous Minds" type of teacher movies. I think I stunned the Teach America recruiter because I was the only Law Student they ever had who seriously inquired about applying to their program.

For me personally, I'm most damaged in the areas of my greatest God given talents. I'm a writer who suffered vicious bullying from my AP English Teacher during my Senior Year of High School. That's not unusual, but of course, I lacked perspective as a young writer. I just internalized it as "I totally suck" and majored in History, instead of English, in college.

For me, the emotional role of "teacher" took a similar battering. I don't have such a neat memory of what events caused me to falsely conclude that "teaching wasn't my thing" when it so clearly is a deep God given talent. I only know that I entered homeschooling with a very battered and fearful heart.

For four years, I focused outward. I want to find the "right teaching method." I was focused on "how my kids learn best." I was gun shy and easily spooked. I had an uneasy teaching pace. I couldn't find "us"--our family homeschooling pattern in a book, or in a worksheet, or in a homeschooling group. I drifted to the side until finally after a move to a new state, I didn't even bother to try to find a new homeschool co-op. I felt more weird and lonely hanging out with other homeschooling Moms than I ever did eating lunch as the "new girl" in a public school cafeteria.

This year, I got healed. I had the opportunity to work with Rebecca from Shoved to Them as she wrote a new Homeschool Book called "Teaching in Your Tiara." This book is awesome! Rebecca is awesome! It was one of those unselfish/selfish kind of things. I started helping a friend because I liked her writing and I was doing her a favor. At the end of the whole process, I realize that I had internalized her whole pep talk about teaching and she was doing me the favor.

For the first time, this past homeschool review was easy. I was healed. I didn't walk into the review looking for maternal approval.  I went for the business like reason of getting State approval for the good  job my kids and I had already accomplished during the year.

I realized finally, that I'm a teacher. A teacher without quotation marks, or asterisks. I'm not a teacher because we can't afford a good private school. I'm a teacher because I was born to teach. I'm a teacher because my husband and I made a decision that our kids learn best with me.

Being a teacher means I can grade. I can give constructive feedback. I can discipline. I can figure out what skills I need to learn in order to teach my kids better. I can pick the curriculum that we cover. I can pick and discard the methods I use. I can hang out with the Public School Moms and the Catholic School Moms and the Home School Moms. I'm not stuck in a box because I like to wear dresses to the park and I can plan a playdate for my 10 year old 2 PM on a Tuesday.