A long, long time ago, some really smart people came up with a Latin term that reads “En loco parentis.” It means, in place of the parents. Derived from English Common Law, it took root in Colonial American Schools as a means of explaining the responsibility of teachers. Translated: during school hours, I’m your mom (the proverbial “boss of you”), so I can tell you what to do. For your own good of course. But, with great power comes great responsibility. Thus, if a student does something foolish on my watch and gets hurt or worse, I’m a negligent substitute parent. It’s kind of a way to keep us all in check, I guess you could say. The phrase also has roots in legal guardianship, but for my purpose, “En loco parentis” refers to my duty, as a teacher, to protect and guide a child, in place of their parents, from 7:28-2:44. It does not, however, mean I am allowed to whack them when they deserve it. At least not in 2012. Bummer.
Several instances this week got me thinking about the teacher/mom blur. To name a few:
“Mrs. Perry, do you have a band-aid?” (Big kids get boo boos too.)
“Mrs. Perry, can I leave my bag in here till after school?” (Teacher-moms are the keeper of many a smelly sports duffel.)
“Mrs. Perry, my braids are too tight and I have a headache, can you help me?” (For those of you picturing a six-year old girl named Jenny with pig-tails, please realize this was a 6 foot 2 linebacker with tight corn-rows he couldn’t reach.)
I even makeshift hemmed a pair of Jr ROTC pants during my planning period on Tuesday.
So clearly there is no shortage of mommy moments in my workplace… And lately I have been pondering all of the ways that being a teacher and being a mom are a lot alike, and yet worlds apart. In my mind this is, of course, a Venn Diagram… but I suppose I’ll blog it as a list, as is the way of the dramafreemama.
Here’s what teachers do En loco parentis…
Clean up messes they didn’t make.
Give up their own lunch for a kid without one, on any given day.
Pat someone on the back when they need it… give them a good ass chewing for the same reason.
Work extra hours without compensation.
Give incentives and rewards for good behavior. (Uh, you’d be thoroughly surprised at what a 17 year old will do for a smiley sticker. No shit.)
Serve as a wardrobe advisor… ie. Ahem, please pull your pants up, young man! Or– Missy, you put on a sweater!
Keep an open door and an open shoulder.
Sounds a lot like a momma huh? I thought the same thing…