Rebecca Monson ('04)

I am a Teacher, I am a Parent

Rebecca MonsonOf course I’m both. Now, with two children, more than ever I ponder my teaching preparation at the McKay School of Education and see immediate and daily opportunities for application. As a parent I will see the results of good and bad instruction for years to come—the incentive to learn and use good methods is great.

Claire, our first daughter, was born after I finished my bachelor’s degree in speech language pathology in the McKay School of Education. In the beginning there seemed little use for the skills I had learned as a student. Things came into focus when my mother suggested establishing routines with Claire—a major topic in childhood development courses. I read about the first months of life and set up a schedule for my baby. As Claire got into the schedule, she seemed more peaceful. I realized that there is teaching involved in meeting a child’s most basic needs.

Teaching, I found, begins from the first days and months of motherhood and never ends. It brings comfort to a child’s life. As Claire reached the toddler stage, she entered the discovery mode. Teaching was even more fun because we saw results in seconds—even when the teaching was by accident or mimicry.

I’ve come to realize that parenting and teaching engage many of the same methods. I’ve learned to review situations, then build and improve on them. I’ve learned to model positive behavior for my children. I’ve learned to redirect attention from negative to positive behavior and keep them involved in interesting activities. There is always a way to make learning fun and minimize the unhappiness and confusion in learning hard things.

Learning precedes teaching. I’ve read more and applied more of my studies as a mother than I did as a student. Now when problems arise, they are my prob- lems rather than some textbook situation. I must find the right solution, and because of my education I know how to access information. Motherhood may be part intuition, but it’s nice to know you can back up your decisions with proven methods. I know that whereas a semester of school introduces a subject, experience helps me become what I need to be, whether in teaching or motherhood, because parents are teachers. I am very grateful for what I learned at BYU and the McKay School of Education.