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Friday, January 8, 2010

Caring, Confronting or Compromising?

Years ago when I was fresh out of school with my fancy new Early Childhood Education I landed a great paying job in a small center. I remember being very excited about putting all my hard earned education into practice.

Here is the story I love to tell new teachers. One of my jobs at my first center was getting the kids off the daycare van. The driver was also an daycare owner who drove the van for our center as well as her own center. She would pull up and blow her horn. I'd stand outside and mark off each child that got off the van. One day she comes back to our center with two of our children. Apparently, these two fell asleep that morning and never got off the van! Although she never confronted me she made sure she told my director how upset she was with me and all the things that could have went wrong had she not found those kids. Oh my...I was mortified. I left work that day and sat shamefully in my professors office to sob and tell her all the horrible details. She listened carefully and handed me tissues between my sobs. After I was done she calmly asked where was my copy of the Department of Children and Families Rules and Regulations. I told her it was in my bag at home. She handed me another copy and told me, "This is like your bible, I want you to know it inside and out." "If you plan on keeping this job, you do not compromise!" Her instructions were for me to get on the van and check every seat and on the floor, check off each student, sign my name and have the driver to sign as well.

Oh with my new found focus I was even sharper than before! The driver of the van would be so annoyed each morning when I climbed aboard with my clip board walking to the back of the van working my way to the front. The taps of her foot, the rolls of her eyes, the long sighs, or the impatient tapping on the steering wheel NEVER bothered me as much as leaving those kids on her van.

Years later, I STILL DO NOT compromise. I recently scolded a teacher regarding safety issues and she was very upset with me since "I'm not the boss". What I did tell her was that I like to buy my own silver bracelets. I'd rather NOT get free ones because she chooses to compromise, I'd rather care enough to confront.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Food Fight!

"Eeww, I don't like that!" "Teacher, I'm full!", "But...I'm all done!" This is just a few of my favorite lunchtime conversations. Oh the list goes on and on. I have a kid in my class that eats next to nothing each day. However, I'll sit next to him with my lunch and wouldn't you know it...there's always something in my lunch that pleasing to his hungry eyes. Of course being in the field a while I have my suspicions about why he eats so little. I know the "food fight" will only lead to frustration and aggravation at what's supposed to be a pleasant time of day. So each day I sit next to him, we chat about our day, we look into each other lunch boxes, we chat about our food, he even asked for my corn on the cob today. I said no sweetly with a smile and directed him back to his own lunch. He was unhappy and he let me know it by mumbling something under his breathe.

Yes, even at lunch I am busy teaching. I am teaching my little friend that there are lots of different foods to choose from. I am teaching that eating is not a battle and food is enjoyable. I am teaching he has the right to refuse to eat but regardless of whether he chooses to eat or not our day must go on. And some day soon I'll pull enough food out of my lunchbox for the both of us. And without him even realizing what has happened, he'll have had a pleasant eating experience. He'll have tried something new. He'll have realized he lived to tell about it (good or bad) and quite possibly will take that joy home with him. Until that day, I'll sit next to him and enjoy his company and refuse to take part in a "food fight".