When Mommy is Your Teacher

Gail and Kayla on the first day of school last week

This past week, Kayla started grade two at St. Paul Elementary School with Gail as her teacher.  As St. Paul is a single-streamed school (ie. one class per grade), Gail – with her principal’s blessing – taught Sean 6 years ago, Jake 4 years ago, and now Kayla.

I’ve always contended that having your parent as your teacher can be a lot tougher than one might think.  I can’t speak for Gail, but I know that if I taught one of my own kids, I would almost “over compensate” and be tougher on him/her than on other kids for fear of anyone claiming I was biased or favouring my own child.

I saw it in small ways when I helped to coach the boys’ volleyball teams last year.  I was extremely careful about not giving Sean or Jake too much playing time, and I may have actually short-changed them on equal playing time on a couple of occasions.

Thus, I really admire how Gail handles it both professionally and personally.  She is careful not to talk about “work” with me in front of the kids and she does her best not to spill the beans on any classroom or school plans.

Naturally, it’s made for some funny conversations and exchanges both at home and at school.  One particular instance comes to mind: at the Meet the Teacher night back when Jake was in grade 2, he started to get all jumpy and excited as he brought me to “introduce” me to Gail.  With ants in his pants and his huge trademark grin on his face, Jake said:

“Dad, I’d like you to meet my teacher Mrs. Imoo.  Mrs. Imoo, this is my dad.”

Jake in grade 2

As Jake did his best to compose himself, Gail and I burst into laughter.  But true to her professional form, Gail had Jake and me sit down at her desk to discuss his progress, despite my repeated pleas of “Can’t we just do this at home?”

This year will be interesting to say the least.  Kayla is very attached to Gail, moreso than Sean or Jake were at that age.  Sean was the “guinea pig” so to speak back in 2008-2009.  He did remarkably well in Gail’s class as school comes quite naturally to him.  Unsurprisingly, things were a tad different two years later when Jake went through Gail’s class.  Jake still did well, but he had a lot of fun with the fact that Gail was his teacher, and he likely pushed the boundaries a bit more than Sean did.  Much like he does in every aspect of his life haha.

Sean in grade 2
Sean in grade 2

As for our little Princess, only time will tell.  Kayla is very committed to working hard and participating fully in class.  She understands that Mommy can’t give her the same attention at school that she does at home.  And she is very excited to receive her First Communion next spring.

I guess that’s yet another thing that makes the situation very special:  Gail is the teacher for their First Communion year.  Add in the fact that – per my role as PREP Director – I get to work with Gail on the First Communion program and it becomes a family affair.

Already this year, a few of my friends have asked Kayla how her teacher is.  Kayla likes to reply with “Uh…she’s okay I guess!”

So for now, so far so good.  Kayla hasn’t called Gail “Mommy” at school yet.  But she has called her “Mrs. Imoo” at home.

Meanwhile, Kayla can call me whatever she likes.  As long as she doesn’t call me late for dinner.

Kayla in grade 2
Kayla in grade 2

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