Teacher’s Pet: FAQ

When you reveal that your parents are teachers, there are questions that always come up.

In reality, it’s a lot more mundane than you might think, but with schools going back in the coming days there are definitely countless other people in my shoes. Be they just getting into the education system or immersed deep in their school going years, anyone with a parent standing at the top of a classroom will be familiar with these queries.

What’s it like having a parent who’s a teacher?

What’s it like having brown eyes? I have no idea what it’s like, or how to answer this properly, because I’ve never known it any other way. I guess the main difference in this and any other career path is my parents were always around for the whole summer, rather than having to book off a couple of weeks from work in late July.

Did they ever teach you?

Yes and no. My Dad taught in a completely different primary school to the one I attended, so I never got to see what he’s like as a teacher. By the time I did work experience in that school in my TY year, he was a Learning Support teacher and didn’t have a class teaching job, so I never got to work alongside him, either.

My mother is a different story. In my junior cycle of secondary school I had the woman for two subjects- Maths the whole way up, and Geography in first year. I have to admit, it’s strange to see your own mother standing at the top of a room teaching you about simultaneous equations- but only for the first week. After that, it becomes all you’ve known. When I changed geography teachers in second year, and then in senior cycle, she was always on hand to help me out at home.

So what’s on tomorrow’s exam?/What did I get in my test last week?

It’s not that I don’t want to tell you. Believe me, it would make all our lives easier. But I never got to see any of the exams my Mam had prepared or corrected. They weren’t kept under lock and key, no, but it would have been noticed if someone had gone through the carefully organised pile (thrown at the bottom of the table). Also, it would have been an invasion of privacy if I went seeking out your exam. So no, I have no idea how well your essay on the types of sedimentary rocks went. I’m pretty sure you did good, though. Probably.

Does that mean you’re really good at *insert subject they taught here*?

Does it what. In harsh contrast, Maths was one of my weakest subjects the whole way through my education- I always leaned more towards the language subjects I did. Having my mother teach me it did nothing to help, and I was still begging to be allowed drop back to Ordinary Level up to a week before my Junior Cert exam. This was a little strange, as I had to get permission from my mother to give to my teacher, who WAS my mother. If I’d gone to my Dad for the note, I’d probably have been responsible for divorce proceedings. Luckily, I *just* scrapped a pass, and I did Ordinary for my Leaving Cert.

Does it make them really strict?

In a way. They were pretty high maintenance around exam time, with my Mam giving out to me one day when I missed one study session in school to meet a friend home for the weekend. My Dad was regularly heard saying if I didn’t perform well I’d end up gutting chickens in the local meat factory. It was stressful for me, and I don’t know if they knew how much more pressure that actually layered on in an already stressful time.

Did they do your homework for you?

Do parents ever do homework for their kids, regardless of their profession? My parents were more than thankful to help me, of course, but my Dad never did my English homework for me. In fact, the only time they could have been forgiven for picking up a pen in my stead was when I fractured two bones in my right arm, and that happened when I was five and homework was far from the kind you’d later in life.

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