Question for the readers...

I have a question for readers, both those who are former childcare-preschool teachers with classroom experience and those who are career nannies, having never worked in a classroom prior to becoming a nanny. This is a situation that occurred last week after I left for the day in a different classroom, and the teachers involved are close to me: both mean the world to me and one of them is my co teacher. The other teacher is very sweet and I am close to her.

We are connected by a bathroom separating our classrooms of 2-3 year olds. There is a child in the other 2 year old room who is 3 years and 3 months. He has not moved up to the three year old room yet due to space issues from what I can see, and will most likely be moving into that room come fall. He is a very sweet child but he can be a handful, like any child. Recently he has become a challenge for his teachers; not listening, screaming, throwing temper tantrums, hitting, kicking, climbing furniture, etc. I believe he is bored in the classroom, and also believe that M and D do not provide any consequences for his behavior. The funny thing is that I can get him to listen and to stop his inappropriate behavior: last week he was in the corner screaming and he knew I was watching while in the bathroom changing a diaper. He kept screaming due to a tantrum. I noticed him screaming, and he saw me looking at him. He stopped immediately. Many times the door opens and his teacher will ask me to talk to this child because he isn't listening. I do what I can to help out when needed, because I know what it's like to have a child who doesn't listen, and sometimes you need the support from someone other than your director. I think it's a pride thing.

So the situation that happened last week involved this child's behavior which resulted in his teacher being stressed out and reaching a breaking point, and my co-teacher who was working in the classroom. I had been in the classroom all day due to one teacher being off and our classroom being at a one teacher ratio. This child did a fantastic job listening and following directions, and when I left, all hell broke loose. I wasn't there, but from what I was told, the behavior was bad enough to where our director was called into the classroom. I don't have specifics in regard to what actually happened, however, I was told bits and pieces by both teachers.

Our director had a meeting with both teachers which resulted in both of them in tears based on what the director had to say about her observations. I get where she is coming from and what she is trying to say, yet I question how she actually said it, and from what I have seen in regards to administration's communication with staff, I can guess that she wasn't using a firm but gentle tone. (I'm the OP who sent in a submission about not being promoted to a program director as part of my post, and this director knows I want that position. She told me to give it up, because it will never happen there and started laughing about it.)

The director and parent of this child had a meeting, and the result of that meeting from what his teacher told me is that all teachers aren't to discipline this child, meaning he can do what he wants. If he wants to jump off tables during group time he can, etc. D made this suggestion, and our director? She's ok with it. In other words, if he is asked to sit down at the table and chooses not to, or he is asked to do something, we cannot physically touch him or force him to do it.

Can someone help me understand the logic in this? This is the same director who got a child disenrolled for far worse behavior because she knew that parents were of no help to the situation. The same child who, at 2.5 opened the gate and ran onto the playground, slapped me across the face when I gave her a consequence for running away from the group while lining up to go inside. The same child who ran away from the group on a walk and had to be chased by a member of admin. The same child who was placed on a behavior plan two weeks after I started in the classroom who had twenty-five, yes twenty-five incident reports for inappropriate behavior in three months (do the math). The same child who, as part of the behavior plan, was sent home for the day for inappropriate behavior. The same child whose behavior was the result of the parents not providing consequences when it occurred and the behavior burning myself and my co teacher out because it affected the entire class. My director attempted to come up with strategies for this particular child. Nothing worked, M and D played the stupid card (" 'we don't know why she's acting like this or what we are doing wrong with her....' ") and this child was asked to find another center, mainly because my director gave up. This other child who is a problem in his classroom (not in mine) is behaving in a similar fashion, and instead of dealing with the problem, my boss is condoning it and supporting the behavior. What?!

I hate to bring this up, but if our center hired qualified teachers with more than one year experience, required classes and/or degrees in education, I believe it would raise the bar on standards and practices, and the chances of having issues like this would be slim. Of course the owner is more worried about other things than actually hiring more qualified people and paying them what they are worth.

So what do all of you think? Is my director wrong for her decision to follow the parent's wishes and let the child do what he wants? What would you do in this situation?


Taleia said...

I hate to play the tough love card (I really do!) but here's the bottom line:

Yes, she's wrong. Yes, you're right. You can't change anything. Get out and go find someone to work for who shares your values.

I'm really sympathetic. It's tough to find good leadership, and the truth is that even if you were the program director, you'd probably find yourself similarly frustrated by the owner's attitudes. This can be a hard, taxing job when everything goes right. Wjthout support from parents/directors, it's just a matter of time before burnout occurs. If you're a great childcare provider (as you seem to be!) go find someone who will value that, and love your career again.

Jess said...

There is something wrong happening with the child, behaviorally. Does your city have an organization like Tuesday Child? They are very good with kids under 6 years of age who don't have a diagnosis and have behavior issues (they do mostly concentrate on 'retraining' the parent vs child).
As far as the admin situation, it sounds like an unpleasant place, why don't you find another place? I used to work admin before becoming a nanny (in a pediatric therapy clinic), and honestly, when the top person is a nightmare, you will get burnout and will leave the field.