Friday, May 27, 2011

I don't talk a lot about my job here. I think the biggest two reasons are that I don't like to use my blog as a place to complain and that when I am not at work, I don't really want to think about work. Today, I feel like talking about it.

Aside from the 7 months I was a nanny and 3 months afterward of unemployment, I have worked in the same childcare facility since I came home from college in 2004. Actually, the summer before that I worked here as well. In my years here I have seen a lot. I have worked with every age group. I have been a lead morning teacher for every age as well as an afternoon teacher or aid for every age. I have had classes full of kids that were fun to be around and who made me actually enjoy coming to work. I have had classes that were a little rambunctious, but who were still controllable. I have had classes that were so difficult, I would usually find myself breaking down in tears at some point in the day at least once a week. I have worked with awesome teachers who were great at what they did and were wonderful co-workers. I have worked with totally incompetent or lazy or just flat out obnoxious teachers. I have been around wonderful parents who lovers and appropriately disciplined their children and lazy parents and complaining parents and ignorant parents and mean parents and neglectful parents. I have seen abused children and unloved children and spoiled and pampered children. I would say I have seen it all, but I know I have not. There will always be new craziness to surprise me.

My class this year would fit into the category of classes that make me cry. Sometimes it is tears of anger. Other times just simple frustration. Somedays I look at these kids and become terrified about what kind of world they are going to make as they grow up. So many of the children in my care come from homes that are beyond dysfunctional. They have been abandoned by one or both parents, they live with people who are too lazy or stupid to be bothered with them. They have parents who refuse to deal with behavior issues and pretend that they don't exist. They are shuffled around from school to baby sitters. They have parents in prison or rehab or worse. They have seen more ugliness in their few short years than I have seen in my nearly 30 years. Even the ones who come from "normal" homes are often spoiled rotten and mean.

I started out this school year as the lead teacher in the early 3 year old class. My year began well enough. I had a few behavioral issues, but nothing I couldn't handle. Things never stay the same for long in a daycare though. Kids leave and new ones come. Some move up to other classes as younger ones move up into mine. By wintertime this year, my class was becoming something I could not handle. I was angry all the time. I was literally afraid of some of the kids in my class. They would hit me and throw things at me. It was impossible to get anything done or really even have any fun because all my time and energy had to go into crowd control. I felt like a failure. My boss finally suggested moving me to the afternoons when there is less schooling and things are a little more relaxed (plus 2 hours of it is nap time). It was a relief to me. I wouldn't have to worry so much about teaching and getting assessments done on kids and writing lesson plans. I felt like I must be completely incompetent though. Was it just me? Was I too stupid or lazy to do the job? Still, I thought the change would make me like my job again. I thought it would ease the dread I had felt before coming to work each day. It worked...for awhile.

I met the new teacher who would be taking my place. She seemed great for the job. I thought she would do better than I did. I watched as she got started. I talked to her each day when I came in to take over for the afternoon. She was struggling, but she was making it. She had lots of good ideas and for awhile they worked. However, with every passing week, the strain was showing more and more on her face and in her voice. The gimmicks that had helped for a few weeks were losing their novelty for the kids and the behavior problems were increasing. So was the size of the class. New kids were moving up and bringing all new struggles with them. Because of our school policy of always being positive when talking to parents, things were not being addressed at home. The classroom was utter chaos. She was given an aid to assist in the mornings, but even that really didn't help. This morning she walked out...left her class with the aid, got in her car, and drove off.

I feel bad for her. I don't blame her for doing it. I have wanted to do it a million times. Even my easier afternoons are beginning to be almost more than I can handle. I thought it was me. I thought I was a failure. I think the truth is that this group of children is nearly impossible to work with. Today one if the children threatened to get a gun and shoot me in the face. The language that comes out of the mouths of these children would be better suited to the proverbial sailor. They refuse to obey. They do whatever they want. I, as the teacher, am left with very few options. Time out doesn't work, and let's face it, if they don't want to sit, they aren't going to sit. I can't hold them down and work with the rest of the class at the same time. I feel so helpless. I want to love these children and teach them, but without discipline, I can't accomplish anything.

I know it isn't considered PC to spank or discipline a child, but seriously, letting them do whatever they want is not helping them. It is turning them into selfish delinquents. I know I am not a parent, but I am also not ignorant about what raising children entails. I see the consequences of parents' lazy, selfish, or fearful choices every day. I see the children who they are hurting. These children are angry. They don't understand boundaries. They have no respect for authority. They are mean. Is this the kind of adults we want them to be? It terrifies me to think of it.

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. ~ Proverbs 22:15

Do not withhold discipline from a child. If you punish him with a rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death. ~ Proverbs 23:13-14

The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother. ~ Proverbs 29:15

Now, please understand that I am not, in any way, advocating child abuse. I am simply asking for discipline...a spanking, a loss of privileges, whatever works for that child. Just do something! Love your kids, play with them, teach them to respect others, hug and kiss them, tell them how amazing they are. Don't shove them off as someone else's problem. Don't just leave them to their own devices and hope for the best. You won't get it, and it makes my job really hard!!!!

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

1 comment:

lisamaree said...

I think you have one of the hardest jobs on the planet. Teachers and nurses - underpaid, overworked, and the potential for a lot of abuse from not only kids but parents too. I admire that you are able to walk into that classroom every day. I have two kids and know I could NEVER be a teacher. You are not a failure. If anything, it is the parents of the unruly kids who are the failures - and failing their children. As a teacher you can only do so much. Learning is not confined to the school - it works in partnership with home, as does respect.
I also agree with you in terms of discipline. Children need to learn respect - manners are important whether at home, out or at school. When you have no means by which to control children who don't have respect, how can you do your job? And worse for the parents, what kind of human beings will their children end up being as adolescents/adults.

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