Sunday, March 25, 2007

This blog interruption brought to you by the discovery of the glorified soap opera that is "Grey's Anatomy."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What to do now

So, most of you know, I had a job for 2 days and about 45 minutes a few weeks ago. I went back to the childcare industry as it is what I do, and do well. I love teaching preschool and spending time with little people. They are so funny and don't have the reservations of adults. They are mostly honest and really jazzed when you come up with a new, spontaneous idea. They just go with it! I applied online on a Tues. and was hired by that Fri. I guess that should have given me a clue as to how desperate they were for a qualified teacher. I was enthusiastic during my 2 days of orientation to their facility. It all looked good. The classrooms were organized. The materials were beautiful and everyone seemed really nice (except for the teacher I was to work for.) She was the "Lead" teacher in the 3 year old classroom where I was supposed to work. She avoided me like the plague and never made eye contact. I had interviewed with 2 of the parents of the school, with the gal I was supposed to work for, thinking I was being hired as the Lead teacher. (I'll call the gal J.) J. was in on the interview and heard my ideas and apparently was intimidated by me. She didn't say anything the whole time I was being questioned by the parents and director. I aced the interview. I am a positive person and I get along with people really well. The parents were so glad to have me come to their school. So during the orientation, I was told that J. was suffering from "burn-out" and she needed some guidance in the classroom. They were counting on my many years of experience to help J. (I still thought at this point that I was to be the lead teacher.) I said I was happy to help and asked if J. was aware that I was to guide her and I asked if she would be receptive to my new ideas. They said, "Yes." So I proceeded with the process. It was the end of the 2nd day that I was handed my job description and it listed my job as "Assistant Teacher." I was confused and asked the Assistant Director to clarify my title and she told me J. is the Lead Teacher and I am her Assistant. So I pointed out that a Lead would probably take offense to an Assistant telling her how to do her job. The Director laughed a nervous laugh and said, "No! J. has been in that room for 4 years and has a great relationship with the parents. She'll be fine!" I didn't see what that had to do with it, but whatever.

So, I spent about an hour that afternoon in the room with J. in utter chaos. It was such a mess. The kids were out of control. There weren't any age-appropriate materials such as books or sensory toys or anything. So they were just running amok. I tried to ask J. about the classroom and she gave 1-word answers and wouldn't have a conversation with me. At one point she asked one of the little boys if he'd "be her boyfriend." (she is 26 years old and should have grown out of the baby-sitting, teenager-mentality stage, but clearly hadn't.) I was disgusted by the food caked on the floor under the tables and the dirty diapers stacked by the trash can on the floor. J. did not wear latex gloves while helping with the children in the bathroom nor did she wash her hands. I was noticing how much work I'd have on my hands, but thought to myself that it would probably be better in the morning. How wrong I was!

I arrived on Fri. morning, ready to get to work. When I arrived for my 1st official day in the class, J. didn't even say hello or anything. Now, for some of you office types, it may seem a bit odd to complain about not getting a greeting but when you work with children and families, it is essential to get along and have conversation. The children's faces were full of red berries from breakfast and the floors under the table, as well as the carpet, were caked with pancake and berries too. Normally, one would clean the floors and tables and the other would help the children clean their faces. Neither was done as J. was rushing to get the children outside. I had just come from outside and mentioned that it was sleeting. No answer. So we marched the kids outside in the sleet that changed to rain. When we were outside J. scared the crap out of a group of the children by telling them there was a monster in the shed she was standing in front of. She even jiggled the door a bit to show them "he was trying to get out." Two of the children came running to me (a virtual stranger) shaking from fear and crying. J. laughed at them while I was trying to console them (they are only just about to turn 3 years old.) I wouldn't do that to a 7 year old much less a toddler. She really has no clue about the age group she is working with. I mentioned that it was cold, and asked if it was normal policy to go outside in the rain as I am from a dry state where it wasn't normal policy to take 3 year olds out when it is 38 degrees and raining. She said, "Yeah. We come out in the rain all the time." I hunkered down under the slide to escape the rain with about half the class. We sang songs and made the best of it. A few of the little ones were looking at J. and crying to go in. She ignored them. (A lot of teachers suffering from "burn-out" avoid being in the classroom at all costs, to get out of actally interacting one-on-one with the children.) One of the little boys had stood under the slide, where it was dripping, to sing songs with me. He didn't have a hat on so his hair ended-up getting soaked. He was shivering and crying by the time we went in. When we entered the building (after 45 minutes outdoors) other teachers and administrators were asking J. how the kids got so soaked and why were they outside for so long? I felt terrible for them. Being new, I thought it was strange that we'd been outside for so long and I was right. It wasn't their policy either. We weren't supposed to be outside. So I am already in trouble with the administration because of J. I am her subordinate so she calls the shots and I get in hot water too? I am, right then, seeing a future of J. not following policy and me being partly to blame. I was having none of it. We got back to the classroom. I asked J. to put a hat on the little boy who was crying form his wet head. She said, "Umm... I think we might have an extra hat somewhere." Then the loud, brassy cook came in and yelled, "Why is S. crying?" J. told her, "It's his own fault. He stood under the slide and got his head wet." The cook looked at the crying S. and said, "Man, you're crazy S." UNBELIEVABLE! They blamed a 3 year old for crying and being cold when we shouldn't have even been outside. Another teacher came in the classroom, at that time, for me to take a break. I left with tears in my eyes and called Stucco on my cell phone and relayed the entire situation to him. He said to get out of there and that I didn't need to deal with what could turn out to be a liability for me. I agreed and asked to speak to the Assistant Director. She sat down with me and I told her what was happening in that classroom and she said, "Yeah. J. is having a hard time right now. She's a little burned-out." I pointed-out how me, being J.'s subordinate could not possibly help the situation. She took out a notebook and wrote a list of all of the social service violations J. had made that morning. She asked if I would like to work in another room after letting me know that J. "really is a good teacher." I said, "No." I couldn't see myself condoning them keeping J. as a Lead Teacher while I was working in another room. They just were going to turn a blind eye to it all. I got up, shook her hand and said, "I will be reporting J. to Social Services."

I walked out of there feeling a mixture of relief and great sadness. I feel relieved that I do not have to be a part of a preschool that is so unprofessional and uncaring about the childrens' well-being. On the other hand, I think I could have made many positive changes there if I had had a chance to lead the classroom without J. being there. I called Social Services and reported them. They took the report and said they would make a visit to "check things out." I hope it happens soon!

So the search for employment continues. Please take a moment and send some positive energy out into the universe for me that I will find a job that is right for me and my family. Thanks for reading my words and hearing my rant!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Chocolate Makes It All Better

Happiness arrived in the mail a few days ago. I took Jill's advice and hopped over to Godiva to see what was on sale. This beautiful box of mouth-watering goodness was 50% off. It arrived just as my hopes for my new job as a preschool teacher were pouring down the drain. (More on that later.) The timing couldn't have been better!