Today was my first day back. We’re open year round but I’ve been on vacation for the past two weeks. It was nice to be back…but not nice getting up before the sun…and I’m exhausted now. It’s always hard for me to come back after a vacation, I always feel like I have to reteach my kids the basics. Because, you know, no one does thing just the way you do…and the kids always seem to “forget” the basics.
But I can pleasantly report that today went surprisingly smooth! I mean, I had to remind them how to walk in a quiet line, use their table manners, and how to sit quietly at circle time…but other then that I can say there weren’t any issues! I breathed a sigh of relief!
Here was my best part of the day: We were playing on the playground this morning when out of the corner of my eye I see a little girl from my class walk into the office with her mom. A glass door leads from the office onto the playground. She spotted me on the playground, and I could see her start jumping up and down while screaming something at her mom and pointing to me. She started running back and forth from the door to her mom (her mother was signing her in) and then as soon as her mom opened the door she ran, as fast as her legs could carry her, straight to me screaming, “You’re back!” She then gave me a huge hug and said, “I missed you!” She ran back to her mom, gave her a hug, told her bye, and then came back to me and hugged me again saying, “I love you!”
“I love you too, honey.” I said. And this is why my job is so great.
Anyone who has been following my blog for any length of time knows i abhor worksheets for preschoolers. That’s not to say that there isn’t some developmentally appropriate papers that can be done – but those certainly do not include worksheets!
So one morning last week I was talking to 2 of my co-workers and this was thier brief conversation:
Teacher A: “Oh, I almost forgot to ask, did you give Teacher C those worksheets she wanted?”
Teacher B: “Yes, I almost forgot but I gave them to her right before I left yesterday.”
Teacher A: “Oh good, because that parent has been bugging Teacher C for a few days now telling her she needs to send papers home with her daughter!”
Teacher B: “Well, that’s good, it will give the child something to do and it never hurts to start young.”
Me: “Why would Teacher C be sending home worksheets when she teaches 2 year olds?!”
Teacher A: “Because she has a few kids who are really bright and are getting bored and in trouble so thier parents asked for paperwork for them.”
Me: “So, you’re telling me instead of educating her parents on what is developmentally appropriate for thier children and giving them ideas of activities they could be doing with thier children she is just going to give in to their demands and send home worksheets?! They are 2 for heaven sakes! They can’t even hold a crayon correctly – much less do a worksheet! I teach 4 year olds and I have not sent 1 worksheet home all year and, as young and needy as they are, they are still picking up on what I’m trying to teach! I don’t get this at all!”
Teachers A and B stared at me as if I had lost my mind. They were literally speechless. After a minute or two of silence they made a feeble attempt to defend worksheets at Teacher C – they soon realized I wasn’t going to change my mind. It bothers me how easily teachers (and parents) of young children turn to worksheets. Parents ask me all the time what they can do to help their children. When I give them age appropriate suggestions, most of the parents ask, “Can’t I just get them one of those get ready for kindergarten workbooks instead?” Are parents really that lazy? Or is it the teachers who make the parents believe it’s okay because it’s what they do in class? I don’t know. I can’t believe what they world of education is coming to these days.
Today I cut out turkey shapes and gave the children multicolored feathers and glue so they could decorate them! They look very cute! I’m gonna hang them from the ceiling on Thursday and I think they will give a nice splash of color to the room! Feathers is a medium we don’t work with a whole lot – so the children were very excited! They played with the feathers as they did their art – so it took a little longer than normal and we’ll have to finish them up on Thursday! 🙂
I’m a big believer in not telling children how to do art. I usually set out the supplies and let them do whatever they want. Of course I have an idea of what I’d like them to do – but I don’t force anything on them. If I want a certain shape I usually just cut the paper into that shape before hand. If I only want certain colors, I only put those paints (or markers or crayons, etc) out to choose from – but I never tell a child how or where to put something on their paper. They write their name on the back (unless they want it on the front – which is rare).
I walked into another class this evening before I left and they too had made turkeys this week. They too had used multicolored feathers. The difference? The teacher did the art for the children. How could I tell? This was a class of 3 year olds, and all the turkeys only had 6 feathers each on them nicely outlining the tail of the turkey. I know, having worked with this age group, that if they were allowed to do this project on their own, feathers would have been plastered all over those turkeys! My class is a year older and that’s what most of my kids did! I thought it was sad how this experience had been taken away from the children because the teacher was more concerned about the end product instead of the creative process. My only consolation is that next year these kids will be in my class and they will finally be able to have the freedom to express themselves! 🙂
Today when I logged onto my computer I read this article on Yahoo talking about the most surprising top ten lowest paying jobs. Read number 4. Are you surprised? I wasn’t. It made me wonder why. Are we undervalued? Misunderstood? Why do we always end up on lists like this? Why, when we have such important jobs, are we forced into obscurity and looked down upon in society?
I recently took a trip to go and see my sister. I met some of her friends (all have at least a Masters degree) and when they asked me what I did for a living, and I told them, they checked out. They dismissed me – it was like they felt it was below them to talk to me. I was literally ignored the rest of the evening – it was like I was invisible. That hurt. And just because I teach the very young and only have an AA. And it wasn’t the first time something like that has happened.
Why are we underpaid, under-appreciated, and overlooked? Is it because we aren’t unionized? If so, I think that’s a silly reason! Is it because we’re not part of the school districts (in most, but not all cases)? That’s another silly reason! Just because our children are small doesn’t make our job any less important then a college professor’s! In fact, it’s more important. We are a child’s first point of contact when it comes to education. We have them before their brains are fully formed – we help form their brains and essentially help form who these children become – so why don’t we matter as much as all the other educators out there?!
I’m venting, I know – but lets face it, I’m not the only one who feels this way. I hope that with time people will come to see that we aren’t just glorified babysitters – I hope in time we get the respect we know we deserve. But in the meantime I will continue to do the best I can as a teacher – not for society or those people who look down on me – but for the children who matter the most.
Today wasn’t a very good day. Horrible would be a better description. Or maybe disastrous . I dunno. A coworker and I got into a little fight confrontation first thing this morning. I just don’t like it when people come into my room and try to tell me what to do. She wasn’t doing that out-right…but she was doing it. And seeing how I seem to be getting sick again before I can get well and I’ve been getting little to no sleep because of it – I kinda lost my temper. Ok – let’s be honest – I yelled at her. I said something along the lines of “Mind your own business” and she said something along the lines of “You have a horrible attitude!” and then walked out – both of us upset and nothing resolved. To be honest – I don’t really remember the whole thing. This is not something I would ever do…ever. I don’t know what came over me.
Then being light-headed and being in the middle of a coughing fit I shakily sat down in a chair and tried my hardest not to cry. Right there in the middle of my room. At journal time. With children present. The only thing I could think was “I want to go home!” and “I’m the worst teacher there ever was!” and “I might as well just quit now!” I am now officially defeated and completely burned out. That was really the low point of my day – beside the fact that I feel like crap. The rest of the day was quite pleasant compared to that little episode the breakdown. The children were great today! They didn’t seem to have taken any notice of what happened. But that doesn’t make it any better.
I know everyone knows what happened. The teacher I had this conflict with is the biggest gossip on earth. Really. No lie. No one said anything of course – not even Ms. Lezze-Faire – although I know she knows. Maybe everyone is shrugging it off as me having a bad day (because I’m telling you – I’m never like this at work!).
I don’t know – I just feel like crap for letting it happen…I should have held my tongue – been the bigger person. But for some reason – I just snapped – before I had time to stop myself – before I could think about what I was doing – and then before I know it – it was over. Done. And you can’t take back something that’s done. I want a redo – it would be different – better. I know it would. Hopefully tomorrow goes better. I’m exhausted now – I’m going to try to get some sleep.
Having taught for 7 years now, I’ve learned to let go and let the children do what they need to do. Experiment with how they do things – even if they do something I hadn’t wanted or intended them to do. As long as they treat items respectfully and follow the rules in our room – I’ve learned to let them learn, play, and explore how they need to – so they can get the most out of an activity. This was a hard lesson for me to learn (and in some ways I’m still learning it). I think it’s hard for a lot of teachers. That’s understandable. It’s the most important lesson (or one of the most important lessons) that a teacher can learn. I’m glad for the most part I’ve learned it – it makes teaching easier – and learning more enjoyable for the children.
Ms. Bennet has not learned this lesson yet. She is a first year teacher…she is learning. I’ve mentioned it to her a few times – but you can’t force someone to learn something they are not ready to learn. But I can see that very slowly she is starting to learn it – she is starting to understand. I don’t think it will fully happen for a long while still – but she is starting. And I’m glad.
Children are stubborn – and good at ignoring you. If they want to do something a certain way – they will – regaurdless of what you say. Within reason, of course. And I’ve found that if the teacher is very clear about her rules for the class and the general boundaries of the activity (no paint on the carpet for example) the children will be respectful and won’t push too hard. And in the end everyone will be happy. I like a happy class – it just makes for more sucessful learners – and I like my children to be successful…
Sometimes working for a private school is frustrating! A teacher called in today – not sick mind you – just tired because she was up until 2 am with a family emergency. Teachers call in all the time where I work for no good reason. This one, I am on the fence about. However, at most schools this wouldn’t be a problem – but where I work there are no substitutes. So today Ms. Bennet was told to go into that class and I worked alone! This frustrated both of us because we had an activity planned today that required both of us being in the room. Of course we couldn’t follow the posted lesson plan and do the activity because Ms. Bennet wasn’t with me!
I couldn’t comprehend why our director, Ms. Lezze-Faire, couldn’t sub for the day and go in the other classroom. I guess she was just too busy – playing computer games from what I saw the two times I walked by her office. I suppose with the school loosing money and enrollment going down this is exactly what she should be doing! What a great example we have to follow! You all should be so blessed.
So, while Ms. Bennet was busy in another room and Ms. Lezze-Faire busy with her computer games, I was forced to divert from my lessons and have a fun free play Tuesday while I caught up with all the odds and ends that had been left undone. In the end my art is hung up and the room is decorated and looks good for Friday’s valentine party. The children are getting excited and so am I. Hopefully all the teachers can manage to show up.
*Picture found through Google Image*