Notes from a teacher-mama

I sit here in this early morning hour, while my own four young children are asleep, with a knot in my stomach and tension in my neck and a large mug of coffee.

I’m an educator and a mother, trying to stay present in these last few days before I head back to work as a kindergarten teacher. 

I’ve already spent full summer days working, preparing my classroom, researching, reading and training.

I know, soon, my home and work life will be kicked into high gear for the next nine months, and I’m eagerly and anxiously anticipating the challenges — and accomplishments — ahead.

I now have my list — 22 children who will be trusted in my care. I’m to teach these children to read, meet their needs and enrich their lives.

I also have the task of carving out quality time with my own children and husband, keeping up with the responsibilities of home and making time for myself in efforts to stay balanced.

This life, of a teacher-mama, is one of unrelenting responsibility, a service of giving and care with enduring purpose.

As I look to the school year ahead, I offer these quick thoughts to the parents of children who are sending their young ones off to teacher-mama-led classrooms:

Be gentle on us: We’re real people. We’re here for your child, dedicating our professional life to help your child grow, learn and be prepared for this big wide world.

We worry, too: We have butterflies before that very first day of school, anxieties about sending our own children off to daycare and third grade, and we worry, how we’ll get dinner on the table before the 3-year-old throws a fit.

We know the power of our words and actions, positive and negative: We pray for patience — for the school day and at home. We strive each day to do our best, hoping the right words come to us in effort to inspire and connect with your children. We want them to love to learn as we do.

We go home thinking of kids: We often leave work, feeing like we’re carrying the day on our shoulders as we try to figure out how to meet the needs of the children we serve, including many aspects of their lives that are out of our control — extending beyond the reach of the school day. 

Know that every little thing you do for your child, for your neighbor’s child or for that child across town — even if it’s just a genuine smile, an outreached hand or a suspended judgment — can make a difference. 

It can be the simplest of habits that can change the quality of a person’s day.

We’re in this together: Be a partner in your child’s education. Ask and listen. Be consistent. Accept and offer feedback. Develop a home-to-school partnership of respect and trust. Together we can have the greatest outcome.

Saying this, and refilling my mug of coffee, I offer a toast to the new school year: May it be one that encompasses purpose, balance, collaboration and joy.

Megan Devine is a writer and early childhood educator. She lives in Northeastern Minnesota with her husband James, her four children (ages 3 to 9), a flock of chickens, two beehives and a white German Shepherd. She blogs at