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Honoring My Military Spouse for Veteran’s Day

Today, November 11th, is Veteran’s Day, a day that is meant to honor men and women who have served in the military. Veteran’s Day was originally called Armistice Day commemorating the end of World War I. My husband, Andy, has served in the Navy in both active duty and reserve roles for the last 16 years, today serving active duty as an instructor at the Naval Academy.

Like myself, I know Andy is tired. As a freshman college math instructor teaching Pre-Calculus this term and preparing for Calculus next term, he devotes so much time to creating his lessons so cadets with math gaps can catch up while ensuring that those who got it really got it. He taps into his experience as a former elementary, middle, and high school teacher for engagement strategies and his students appreciate his dedication to make difficult subject matter approachable and engaging. He knows how much is riding on their understanding because their grasp of Pre-Calculus and Calculus is foundational for so many other required classes. Andy makes himself available throughout the day for virtual extra instructions (EI) and his students take him up on his offer for EI, so his schedule is blocked for most of the day and evenings with individual student appointments. On top of that, he’s working on his second Masters in Nuclear Submarine Warfare.

He will probably choose to work some throughout the day, because that’s the type of person he is. He’s a dedicated professional who landed his dream job and absolutely loves it. At the same time, he’ll undoubtedly take his own advice and nap on the couch with a football game or reruns of American Dad playing in the background. This recharges his emotional batteries the way a yoga class charges mine.

Today, I will honor my military spouse by letting him nap all day on the couch, if that’s what he wants to do. He can enjoy Veteran’s Day deal meals from local restaurants, if that’s what he wants, or I’ll cook up whatever meal he requests. If he wants space, I’ll leave him be but if he wants a cuddle partner on the couch, I’m there, too. If he wants to nap with Hazel on the couch, they can saw logs together after lunch for nap time.

My husband has been able to combine his two professional passions: his love for the Navy and his love for education. Educators, especially those in public schools, work tirelessly. Andy can devote that much individual time and attention because he only has two relatively small classes with a total student count of 30. He could meet with every student multiple times per week if they need it. The individualized tutoring and attention to detail for planning lessons is a result of time, the simple availability of time to devote to what matters most in the classroom: the students. If public school teachers had fewer students and more time to devote for planning and relationship building, these two factors could transform education in our nation.

Andy does not have to micromanage his time. He is not obligated to meet virtually with students outside of designated office hours. He does this because he wants them to succeed and, more importantly, he has the actual time to do it. He could just present the material and call it a day. That’s not him. If given the time and a reduced course load, a teacher can create magic in the classroom.

For this Veteran’s Day, honor the military men and women in your life. Their sacrifices and their dedication helps make this country safe. Also, consider the teachers in your life. Your child’s teacher has so many stressors that are beyond public recognition. In addition to your child, most teachers have a class load of 80 to 150 students, depending on factors like double blocks and class size. It is next to impossible to have that kind of individual attention with that many students. Besides, most teachers lack adequate planning time during the school day. Most planning periods are blocked for meetings and teachers have to choose whether to work throughout the early morning or evenings to keep up with paperwork demands like grading, planning, data reports, and so forth. For myself, I would work three to five hours a night after my girls would go to sleep just to keep my head afloat. That workload is not sustainable and frankly, that’s why I’ve stepped away from the classroom.

Today, I will say to all of my military friends and family members, “Thank you for your service.” Today, I also say, “Thank you for your service” to all of my friends and family members in education.


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