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Monday, October 14, 2013

expert mama - Heather Koelker - HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER

Another part of our Expert Mamas Series, Heather Koelker is a high school English teacher... working with teenagers is not easy, especially when you're a mother yourself! Thanks, Heather, for sharing all of your great ideas.

All photos from Heather Koelker

1. What is your job and where do you work? 
High School English Teacher, Massabesic High School, Waterboro, Maine

2. How long have you been doing this type of work? 
This is my 6th year teaching.

3. How many children do you have, their names? 
I have two beautiful children, Thomas who is 18 months and Norah who's 5 months.

4. How do you balance work and family? 

One thing I value when balancing work and family is, when I'm at work, I'm at work and I focus on my job.  When I'm home it's family time only, no work.  

As a teacher this can be very difficult because a lot of teachers bring work home with them, but I try to stay at the school if I have papers to correct instead of being present at home, but ignoring my family.

5. What is the best thing about being a mom who works out of the home? 
Adult time! Plus I really love my job.

6. What is the most challenging thing about being a mom working out of the home? 
Not being with my kids 24/7.  My babies are so young still.  Norah is still breastfeeding and refuses to take a bottle.  Thomas has a little separation anxiety.  

It's hard leaving them every day, but not only is my job fun and rewarding, I'm helping to out food on the table.  

7. As an English teacher, what advice do you have for parents trying to help their children read and write well? 
Introduce books right away to your kids.  Read to them every day.  When they're old enough, let them pick out the books and turn the pages.  Also, let them see you reading.  Show them that it is the norm in your household.  Their writing skills will develop the more the are exposed to books and reading.  Letting them practice writing/scribbling will help too though.

8. What advice do you have for parents of teenagers? 
Teenagers need to have parents.  I know this sounds funny, but I see so many of my students who have parents that are their friends so the discipline and the motivation just isn't there.  

They have friends, they don't need their parents to be their friends.  They need them to be their parents.  Set boundaries, set examples, check in with them, guide them.  That friendship will develop later in life when they no longer need the guidance of a parent.

9. What tips do you have for getting high schoolers to talk to their parents? 
Be open and honest from them right from the start.  Tell them what you expect and then when they do talk to you, don't jump to conclusions or make instant judgements even if what they tell you is something that you don't agree with.  Give advice, don't tell them what to do.  Share some of your experiences if you need to.  

I have so many students who feel comfortable telling me anything and it's mostly because I just listen to them.  I take actions when necessary, but unless it is life-threatening I let them make their own decisions and give advice to them about how to make the right decisions.

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