Thursday, November 10, 2011


If you aren't a teacher, there's a good chance you haven't heard of Harry Wong. He's written books and made videos about classroom management. They are brilliant and helpful and hilarious, and they helped me through my first few years of teaching, but what I remember most is this.

Harry Wong says there are four stages of effective teaching:

  1. Fantasy
  2. Survival
  3. Mastery
  4. Impact

His description of surviving is so funny and so familiar. Teachers who give kids busy work. In elementary school, the ditto. In high school, reading the chapter. And my favorite line? "Friday? Here's a movie. It kind of relates."

Oh boy.

"For the very new teachers," he says, "I give you permission to survive."

Whew. What a relief.

But, he goes on to say, if you've been teaching for years and are still just surviving? Something has gone wrong.

I feel like, as a mom, I'm still just surviving. When is it time to stop giving myself permission to survive?


  1. I've been a mom for over 11 years and I still feel like I'm just surviving.

  2. But the difference between teaching and parenthood is that every year teaching is pretty much the same as the last. Same age kiddos (usually), same subject, same schedule. With your own kids, just as soon as you stop surviving and figure them out, they enter a new phase and it's like your back to being a first year teacher all over again. Okay, that sounds really depressing...but I guess what I mean is that it's okay to always be surviving as a parent. We are all just muddling through, figuring it out we go along. And that's okay.

  3. I still feel like I am in survival mode. Dd2 is almost 6 months old and there have been maybe 2 days where I mostly felt I was rocking the stay at home mommy gig. And both were in the last month.

    As much as I liked blob stage with Dd1, she was well into mobile, around 15 months, before I felt like I was doing more than surviving. I have more expectations for myself as a mom of 2, but I need to remember to be kinder to myself.

  4. Hum, that is a good question. BG is still so young that I think it is okay to still be in survival mode. However, I don't think that you are just in survial mode. Looking at that this, I think that we probably hit each point several times a day.

    Whenever I actually understand what the little guy is asking for I think I have totally got this parenting thing mastered. That tends to be quickly followed by both kids turing into whiny messes and the countdown to bedtime start . . . at 9 am somedays . . . then I am just surviving. The fantasy stage is when I go to bed each night and think that tonight will be the night that they both sleep through until 6:30 am. Sigh.

    Finally you are totally impacting BG each and every moment you are loving her. You are the perfect mom for her . . . you love her and care for her and are there for her. That is one hell of an impact.

  5. You're still in the trenches as am I. I think with time and experience, it'll come.