This post originally appeared on the blog Being Teacher.
Time stood still and all else faded as I gazed at my newborn son. After 3 years of trying to get pregnant, 24 hours of incredibly painful natural childbirth that almost ended in tragedy for us both, and decades of dreaming of a child, here he was: perfect, precious, and beautiful.
As I recovered from the labor of his birth, I spent hours in the bliss, joy, and overwhelming emotion of being a mother. As my mother always told me, having a child is indescribable. How could this one being hold so much of my love and my heart? I wept for hours, not out of sadness, but of pure joy.
After six weeks of bonding with my newborn, I returned to my work as an archaeologist. Being an archaeologist had been my dream since I was four years old.
Even before having my son, archaeology began to lose its allure. But after his birth, my world completely shifted on its axis, irrevocably and instantaneously. I no longer sought to understand the human experience; I wanted to be part of it.
Fast forward 11 years — almost to the day — I am joyfully engaged in my calling as a teacher of both children and their caregivers: teachers. I am a 5th grade ELA teacher to 50 sacred beings AND a personal coach for the most incredible, brave, and extraordinary people in the world: teachers.
And the whole time, I’ve spent the past 6 years at the same school as my son, the one sacred being who set me on this path. How amazing is that?
Through my career transition, I’ve learned some major life lessons that I want to share. I hope you’ll gain inspirations, ideas, and perspective, and perhaps you’ll see, as a teacher, how truly blessed we are.
5) Music. The other day as I was collaborative planning with my colleagues, one commented how much she was enjoying planning in my room. Then she said, “Oh! it’s the music. I didn’t even realize it was still playing.”
One of the first things I do each morning when I enter my classroom — after switching on my lamps — is to turn on the music. I never knew how much music impacted mood until I became a classroom teacher!
Music stimulates your brain to creative positive or negative emotions. Whenever I’m feeling a little out of sorts or stressed out, I know exactly what to do: listen to Penguin Café Orchestra’s “Music for a Found Harmonium”.
4) Autonomy. Teachers everywhere have autonomy to create the classroom of their dreams. They’re allowed to design the most beautiful and relaxing workspace imaginable. Only teachers have so much control of their workspaces. (Being a closet interior decorator only contributes to my enjoyment).
I get to be goofy, creative, and autonomous in my calling. That’s incredibly fulfilling to me.
3) Creativity. In addition to being a closet interior designer, I’m also an artist dabbling in pencil drawings and oil paintings when I have time. I love being creative — not only for fun. Art stimulates the right side of your brain, creating positive, happy emotions.
As a teacher, I get to create my classroom environment AND create and implement fun and engaging lessons. I am an artist every single day now.
2) Mom-centered. My son and I ride together to school. I’ve watched him as he’s working in his classroom, and we can have lunch together when we want. We’ve spent more time together building a solid relationship than many mothers and sons can. Coming from a career where travel was required, being a teacher mom is indeed a blessing.
Working mothers everywhere struggle to balance a career and parenthood, day in and day out. Compromises are almost always required. But when it comes to teaching, I can have a successful and fulfilling career and be an excellent mom without as many compromises. I’m overjoyed that the path that began with my own child’s birth led me to the sacred art of teaching.
1) Children. Oh my goodness, it’s so fun to work with children. They’re the goofiest, most sincere, and just-plain-real human beings around. The spark of each soul is there in all of my students’ eyes. They are truly, as Native Americans say, sacred beings.
Charles Dickens wrote, “It is no small thing that they, who are so fresh from God, love us.” As a teacher, that is the Truth. Being a mother solidified this truth although being a parent doesn’t require it.
In short, becoming a teacher after leaving the glamorous allure of archaeology led me on a path to happiness. I learned what makes me happy: music, autonomy, creativity, my son, and all children.
Once you sit and think about it, you’ll find similar lessons. Think about what you have learned by becoming a teacher. Let your answers surprise you!
Brooke Hamby began her professional career with a doctorate in anthropology, teaching and writing in pursuit of her first love: understanding the human experience. Soon after the birth of her son, Brooke’s human experience changed, as she sought a career where she could make a difference in the lives of children, “sacred beings” to her way of thinking. After getting her Master’s in education, Brooke turned her love of children into becoming a classroom teacher and instructional coach. Brooke devotes her spare time to contributing resources to Teachers Pay Teachers, and writing about the teaching life at Being Teacher, helping other teachers realize their fullest potential.