Back to the Classroom – Returning to Work After Mat Leave

teacher in a classroom

I used to feel like parents silently believed I couldn’t fully understand them or their children in my class because I didn’t have children of my own. I was confident in my education and experience and thought I was very empathetic and understanding. But, as I started preparing for going back to work after my daughter was born, I realized that my life as a teacher would never be the same.

When I stepped into the school on that first day back, it was as if everything made me think of my baby. I’m sure mostly because I was struggling with the idea of leaving her with someone else to watch her while I cared for and educated other people’s children all day long. Man that mom guilt runs deep. But also because I discovered this new way of looking at my students. And perhaps other teachers without children have always had this view, but it became so evident to me this year. All of those students, whether quiet, rambunctious, diagnosed with learning difficulties or flying under the radar….they all mean the world to someone. Every time I spoke to a student, particularly if it was to deal with a behaviour, I thought to myself “how would I want someone to speak to my child in this situation?”.

I think now that I’m a mom and a teacher, I have a little bit more patience than I used to (except maybe on those days after a teething baby kept me awake all night). I have a deeper appreciation for my role in the lives of my students. And I now understand why all those teachers were leaving school as soon as the bell rang! It is definitely a challenge to balance my work and my family. While my priorities have definitely shifted, my desire to be a great teacher has never been stronger. I want to be the kind of teacher I’d like my daughter to have some day.

Here are 4 ways my role as a teacher has changed since returning from maternity leave:

1) Everything is now seen through my “mommy glasses” – usually allowing for more patience and empathy

2) Guilt – I am still having a hard time dealing with the feelings of not spending my days with my baby. I receive updates throughout the day from her daycare and so badly wish that I could be there with her.

3) I am WAY more efficient with my time at work so that I can attempt to have less work to do after school and on the weekends – the time with my daughter is so precious, I don’t want to spend it marking work or planning lessons.

4) I’m not yet able to be as involved in the extras at school as I would like to be. I am used to helping with most extra curricular events, fundraisers, and after school activities. These things are now much lower on my priority list. I am hopeful that as we develop our new normal at home, I will eventually be able to add a little bit more to my plate at school. For now, though, I’m happy to have the extra time with my family!

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Corrin ClarkeContributor
Corrin Clarke is a first time mom and an experienced French teacher in Ontario. She is learning to balance all of her new responsibilities while enjoying any free time she has with her family.


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