Stepping Out from Behind the Desk

It was the day after Labor Day—and the first time in my adult life—maybe ever—that I was at home on this day. August was not filled with watching sale flyers for back-to-school bargains, polishing a classroom, making bulletin boards, or fielding phone calls from anxious parents.  The only anxious parent I had to deal with was me. After 16 years of teaching the children of others, I was becoming a homeschool mom.

Last school year had been both stressful and eye-opening.  As a teacher in a small private school, my son, whose abilities and need to follow the beat of his own orchestra had always been a challenge to his teachers, became one of my students. I had always been an advocate for him, seeing his personality traits as positive and gifts for the future.  As his teacher, with him now being one of many, I could now identify with his past teachers’ frustrations, though it didn’t change my view of him as a person.  It changed my view of me as a teacher.

As a classroom teacher, I always worked to know my students’ inner motivations, and to understand their passions, and to help them see the meaning of schoolwork beyond the four walls of the classroom.  I attempted at every opportunity to make learning engaging and authentic, and to help students find their places in the world and to live in harmony with one another. But a fact of being a classroom teacher is that you have many constituents to consider: the students, the parents, the administration, the public, and each group has an opinion and a voice.

Where did my boy fit in? The answer was, he didn’t. And I couldn’t serve two masters. As the year wore on, more and more often I was asked to teach in ways that I didn’t think were appropriate for any child, and I knew were soul-crushing to my son.  It was time to get off the merry-go-round of traditional education and serve the only student I had a real obligation to.

Our summer was lazy, and stress-free.  Slowly we processed what parts of learning and school he liked, and what had turned him off.  We have a long way to go to help him like math again, and a longer way to go to helping him write, but we’ll get there.  We will spend this school year filling in the blanks of what was missed last year, for both of us. We will enjoy being teacher and student, mother and son.  I will finally teach the way I know he learns best.  I will answer to the only constituency I’ve ever truly cared about: my family.

Anne Lape

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  1. Very inspiring, Anne. I hope things are going well for you and G. Lucie and I are enjoying our adventure. I think it is very important to listen to the needs of your individual child, and for now, we’ve found the right fit for both of my kids.

    1. Thanks, Courtney. This year has been a new learning curve for the boy and me, but it has definitely been the right choice for him. What he has learned already this year has been amazing, because he wants to learn. G is proof-positive that there is no one right educational fit for everyone. Thanks for the support and I’d love to hear more about what you and Miss Lucie are doing.

  2. Anne–I’m so happy for you and a little bit jealous! I imagine this year holds many unforgettable adventures and memories for you and your one-of-a-kind boy. Miss you both!!

    1. Thanks, Jamie, and I miss you too. It has been an adventure, as every day with G. is an adventure–but these are all the good kind. I wish this kind of interaction for every parent–the time to step back, learn who your child really is, and enjoy him for just those traits.

  3. I applaud you, and pray that things are going well in your transition. I am homeschooling a 7th grade girl, while working full time. It’s been quite a challenge, but believe it was the best decision I’ve made. We have slowly been getting settled, after two months of school. I like moving at a slower pace and getting to know her through the process 🙂

  4. I could have written this myself – except that I was not a public school teacher. However, I had been a very happy and successful public school parent for 22 years before I realized it did not fit the needs of my sons at all. It has been an adjustment – but a wonderful one! Each day more reaffirming of our decision as parents and teachers of our sons. Good luck and bless you! – Laura

  5. Dear Anne……..what a blessing it was to hear your message today. I also resigned from my position in a public school last spring to ONCE AGAIN, return to homeschooling and raising my 2 middle school daughters and 3 year old daughter. I can “feel” your passion and hurt coming off the page at me. What a complex array of emotions we go through when agonizing over certain decisions that can be life changing. And so true it is…..the conflict of trying to please everyone when so many stakeholders are telling you what to do! And knowing once in awhile………that what traditional schooling offers, is not the best learning scenario for all kids. I admire you for deciding to honor your first priority. I have struggled with feelings of betrayal by fellow educators and others in society whose perceptions of homeschooling or my reasons for doing it…………………. are so inaccurate! I also applaud you for your decision, as well as your willingness to share your experience with us in this blog. Many thanks to you and continued success in your new endeavor at home with your son!

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