As much as we’d like to believe we live in an enlightened, accepting era, individual stakeholders in our communities can hold on very tightly to traditional ideals. That’s all well and good—unless your career is negatively affected by those archaic values. Teachers, in particular, are often scrutinized and judged a bit more finely than other professionals.
This is what teacher Nora asked about on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE! this past week. She writes, “I’m single and pregnant. I’m not showing yet, but it’s only a matter of time. How am I going to be perceived? I work at a private high school.”
Nora, first of all, congratulations on your pregnancy. Second, here’s what our community of teachers suggest.
1. First and foremost, remember that you’re a professional. “Are you a good teacher? Honestly, that is all that should matter.” —Farrah M.
2. That said, there will always be naysayers. “I know I got the stink eye as a single mother from both peers and parents.” —Corby K.
The good news? Your peers and parents don’t evaluate and retain you. Bottom line, don’t worry about opinions that have no impact on your professional life.
3. It depends on the culture of your school. “I used to work in a very small district in Texas. We had a morality clause in our contract, and this was a public school! An unmarried teacher was pregnant, and the principal said she had to get married or leave. She left. The ironic part was that many of the parents in the district were unmarried with kids from multiple relationships!” —Ann M.
“I have a divorced friend with kids who taught at a religious school. She was told to quit or wear her wedding ring to school.” —Stephanie S.
4. Most people won’t care. “I had an unmarried teacher in high school who had a baby back in 1993. I wondered about the father, but no one cared or said anything. I couldn’t wait for her to get back from her leave, though; no one was a better chemistry teacher than she was!” —Jennifer W.
“This was me! When I was single and pregnant with my first child, I never had anyone make a comment or judge.” —Jess M.
“It’s 2016. No one cares.” —Matt S.
5. Keep your personal life personal. “I am a single mother by choice. I got pregnant while teaching high school. My students know very little about my private life and many assumed I was married because I was pregnant. Others either never asked or didn’t care.” —Helena W.
The less they know, the less they can say.
6. Relax and be confident in your choices. “Your personal life is nobody’s business but your own. This is 2016!” —Myrna P.
“Be happy. Celebrate!” —Cassie T.
7. And, realistically … “If you’re married, they’ll talk about you. If you’re single, they’ll talk about you. If you’re doing well, they’ll talk about you. Get my drift?” —Mary R.
What advice do you have for Nora? Share in the comments.