Father’s Day is a little different for me this year. In addition to honoring my father, who has been in my life every day, I also will celebrate my first. April 11, my little bundle of joy entered this world. She opened my world and changed it for the better. Not only did she change my world as a man, but she also improved it as an educator.
The first nine years of my career, my main focus was my career. It was me, and I could dedicate my time to craft. My craft was teaching and then eventually becoming an administrator. The only experiences I had to guide me was that of my own as a student and the teachers and administrators I had growing up. Now, every day, I get a new experience with being a father.
I did not plan on being a father during this phase of my career. There was still so much more I wanted to do and accomplish before being a father, but as many of you know, your time and God’s time is not always the same; God’s time is still the right time. He saw it fit for me to have this joy right now. It is amazing how quickly life can change. I have always felt a delight every morning when I see the smiling faces of my students as they enter the school. I had always felt this sense of pride when they accomplished a task they struggled with or passed a test. I always felt their pain when they were down or upset. I felt disappointment when they broke a rule or did something they knew better not to do.
For many years as a teacher, I lived in a world where I had expectations for parents and how I felt they should be involved with their child’s education. I had my hope for how I felt they should be raising their child. Now, having a child of my own has made me a lot of more conscious of a parent’s point of view. I know to understand a little better what parents go through. It has only been a couple of months, but I see the world differently. I see my role as an educator differently. When I look at these children at my school, I worry less about how right or wrong I feel their parents are raising them, and instead, I think about how to educate them the way I would want someone to educate my little girl. I operate in the space of, “Would I send my child to this school?” This question changes my approach daily.
My little girl has bought me a balance as an educator. I was that educator who arrived extremely early to work and stayed extremely late after. My life consisted of work, work, and more work. I still work hard, but I have learned to balance that work. I have more than work driving me now. She gave me a new sense of purpose to do the work that I do. I see myself trying to change the system so that the system can be better for her.
Being a father did not make me a better educator. Being a parent does not qualify someone as a better educator than a person who does not have children. I have worked with and alongside some of the most inspiring, dedicated, and exceptional educators who do not have children of their own. What happened to me when I became a father changed me and added to my perspective.
From the day you entered the world, I was unsure like most new fathers on what would happen next. I was afraid because, for the first time in my life, I was not in control of everything. Our situation is not ideal, but it is our situation. I pray to God every day that I can be better not for myself, but you. You deserve the best version of me. It is not important me that I am the best educator, but that I am the best father.
Love you, Baby Z!