“I am an inner-city high school teacher. The high poverty rate makes the job very challenging and stressful. We are all working long hours.
This year I am dealing with a colleague in her early 40s, single, who readily admits her life outside of work is dull. She has half the number of students I do.
For Christmas she gave all her students a small gift bag with treats. She has nicknames for all of them. She has driven them to practice when they missed the bus. She feeds them breakfast and gives them snacks for having a good day in class.
When speaking with a parent, it is always positive — even if the student is failing multiple classes or has disruptive behavior.
The students love her and call her “Mom.”
Students have asked why I don’t buy or give them things. These are 14-year-olds. Even though I recognize their developmental stage, it is difficult now to enjoy my work when I am always being compared to “Mom.”
How should I deal with this? — Stressed Teacher”
At my Primary School each grade up until Middle School was split in two. There would be 20 or so kids per teacher. In 4th grade I was put into a classroom with a no nonsense teacher, Mrs. Wilson, who taught us well but at times lacked that sweetness. She was tough but fair. Next door was a teacher who was all sunshine and rainbows. She would play her piano and we could hear the class singing through the walls. Every time this would happen I would roll my eyes because I found it unnecessary (clearly, I had established my sarcastic, smart-ass attitude early on). I mean, how many times can you play Heart & Soul before it’s too much?
I always wondered what Mrs. Wilson thought of the teacher next door. If she wanted that adoration those students showed her. Or if she even liked the other teacher enough to care what she did. I like to think that we were on the same page and rolled our eyes simultaneously. She didn’t care for the other teacher’s teaching style/attitude because she knew how to get through to us and teach us what we needed to know without overstepping the boundaries.
You need to do the same.
Be the teacher you are and don’t concern yourself with what “Mom” is doing.