It’s surprising, after a year off, how much changes. There are new staff who all know each other but they don’t know you, emails have changed and you can’t log on to the photocopier for some strange reason. It’s a weird feeling being an experienced teacher but having to ask someone for help!
Lauren Hunt is a primary school teacher from Adelaide in South Australia. When it comes to the ‘many hats of a teacher’ metaphor, Lauren wears more than just a few! An experienced teacher who is passionate about play-based learning in the early years, Lauren is a mum of two and currently works part-time across a multitude of year levels and subject areas, as well as running her own play-based education blog Teacher Types.
Teacher Life After Kids
With two regular days a week teaching Year 2, as well as Physical Education lessons in Year 1 and Reception, Lauren also takes on additional TRT (temporary relief teaching) days across her entire school (Reception to Year 10). This means that while in one lesson she will be teaching a lower primary class, the next could be spent supervising a high school class across any subject area at all.
…because I have been (at the school) for so long, most of the students know me – right through the middle school. I can walk into Year 10 Geography and own it! I’ve learnt that a good teacher can teach anything. Even if I don’t know the answers, we find them out together!
Lauren’s story is a common one for women who have returned to the field of Education after having children. Finding a way to balance family life and professional life is something that many parents can find challenging to do. Lauren’s description of a day in the shoes of a teacher with two small children is one that I’m sure a lot of us can relate to!
The juggle between Year 2 Science, and Year 1 PE, then filling in for Year 10 Geography and covering someone’s yard duty. Starting my day with a toddler who refuses to get dressed and a preschooler who cannot find her shoes [while] trying to get everyone out of the door by 7:30 am… I’m so exhausted by the end of the [work] day. But oh, the kids need dinner and baths and attention…
At about 8pm when all is quiet and you finally have a minute to yourself, you suddenly realise that you’ve planned a science experiment with the class the next day and you need to round up some materials from home, and find a worksheet printable from the internet. You check your emails to make sure you are all up to date with everything for the following day, perhaps there’s a yard duty to be swapped or a lesson needing to be covered.
And then if you’re anything like me you’ll have dreams about being late to school!
There’s no need for us to get into just how much work happens outside of the classroom for teachers. While finding ways to prioritise and manage teacher workload is certainly overwhelming as a beginning teacher it does get a little bit easier with time. As a teacher who is also a parent, finding ways to wear all of the regular ‘teacher hats’, within the added time restrictions presented by things such as morning and afternoon daycare drop-offs and pick-ups, and caring for your own sick kids requires an explicit shift in ways of working.
Today was our school's open day and Miss M is enrolled to start there next year so what a wonderful chance for her to come along and see all of the amazing things that we do! She played on the playground (of course), visited classrooms (including the science lab!), met some teachers, watched the dance performance, had a sausage in bread and lots more things I'm sure! All the while I was on official photo duties (and I must say I think I did a really good job!). I have such pride in our brilliant school and am so proud to work there and even prouder to send my children there!
Making Time for it All
Lauren describes the need to manage her time differently after having children. Spending break times in her classroom completing marking sometimes keeps her away from the staffroom but it also means that she doesn’t have to stay too long after school. Lauren says she also finds it challenging when that occasional (but familiar to all parents) call from the child care teacher says “your little one has a fever”, causing the need for a colleague to cover her class at short notice.
As a working parent who is passionate about their job, these can certainly be instances where others may misperceive a lack of dedication or lack of commitment to the job. But as Lauren so accurately articulates,
Your priorities change – but good teachers will still give 110% to their job whether they have children or not.
Reflecting on the thoughts, ideas and experiences Lauren shared with me in preparation for this article led me to believe that although being a working parent certainly adds a whole new layer of challenge to the day, a strong passion for the career makes it easier.
A Passion for Inspiring Young Minds
Lauren’s blog, Teacher Types, and her Instagram account are filled with amazing ideas for early years teachers and parents to incorporate play-based learning into their children’s daily experiences. Her passion for teaching is so clearly communicated through the time spent researching, writing and sharing this valuable, educational ideas.
[I love] the light bulb moments. The moment when you see a child’s eyes light up and they just ‘get it’. When teaching young children, everything is fascinating to them. Everything is interesting and new. They respond to the simplest things with wonder and awe.
How awesome are these line pattern templates? We created patterns using some items from our tinker tray and added in extra nuts, bolts, washers and other bits and pieces from the shed (did I mention how OCD my husband is with his tools? They are so immaculately organised, you’ve never seen a shed as neat as his). I wonder if Rusty’s shed is as neat as his ? lol ?#rustyrivets @hellomumtastic #teachplaylearn #sp #nickjr
When I asked Lauren about her favourite lesson, her response draws out exactly why she is passionate about creating engaging, integrated learning experiences for her students and her children.
I always love the lessons that come together perfectly. Where learning is integrated and the children are immersed in more ways than one in their unit of learning. Just one example that comes to mind during our “Living things” unit when we did symmetrical butterfly painting. It was Art, Mathematics and Science all combined into one lesson!
Bringing it all Together
Lauren’s experiences in the field of Education so far, along with her experiences as a working mum and her teacher-blogging journey combine in a way that highlights her passion, creativity and flexibility. The evolution of her commitment to play-based education is so clearly grounded in her love for early years education.
Lauren’s Top 3 Teach Starter Resources
I asked Lauren what her current three favourites are (because there are so many resources to explore!):
“My year 2s have loved the Science resources packs such as “Water is Life” – the cloud in a jar experiment was a highlight of the term!”
“The Polygon Puzzles are great too! It’s so important to provide differentiated lessons to cater for varying ability levels so I always look for resources that can be made easier or harder (eg with the Polygon puzzles I allowed the students to choose whether they attempted addition or multiplication).”
“I’ve also been using a lot of the Preschool resources with my little one at home (she is starting school next year). Our favourite has been the Playdough alphabet mats but we’re using them as a “letter of the day” craft. I also printed out the alphabet tracing book and took it into Office works to have bound into a real book for my daughter to work on.”
Time to share the next instalment of our letter of the day craft! (See previous post for the other letters we've done). Still no method to the order apart from looking in my craft cupboard for what materials we could use for each letter. D is for dots F is for flowers N is for numbers P is for Pom poms W is for wool Z is for zebra stripes! Cannot wait to share the finished set! Get these awesome play dough mats from @teachstarter (and of course you could use them as play dough mats as they are intended!).
Huge thanks to Lauren for sharing her thoughts and experiences with us for this Teach Starter Spotlight. You can connect with Lauren in any (or all!) of the following ways:
Facebook Teacher Types
Pinterest Lauren @ Teacher Types