A teacher writes lesson plans and does the research to provide appropriate curriculum. She presents that curriculum to a large group of children that often are more interested in something else, and manages her classrooms, guiding behaviors and challenging children to step in and try the activities. And all the while knowing she will most likely not get a break before lunch. And when she tries to talk to some parents about behavior problems, she often hears the response, “well, isn’t that your job”?
I think right now, in the midst of the pandemic, people are realizing there is far more to being a teacher than anyone imagined. Still, some don’t see preschool as “school”, but many are realizing, it is. And many are realizing those child care teachers not only teach, they manage these classrooms for eight hours every day.
And why do they do it?
Every story is different. Every teacher brings something unique to the table, but the thing they have in common is their passion for children. I started working in Early childhood right out of high school. I loved it! I learned what kind of teacher I wanted to be (and didn’t want to be) by observing interactions. So I went to college and got my Nursery School Teacher Certificate. That was back in the 1970s when child development was just starting to pique the interest of early learning programs. And I kept going.
Aside from the eight years I worked in computers – to see what making money was like – I have worked in child care since 1974. I did it because I loved watching children discover things. I loved watching the joy when they learned a new silly song. And I loved that they loved to listen to my stories. I have been a teacher aid, teacher, cook, assistant director and director. And on some occasions janitor and plumber.
Times have changed.
As a director now I look at our team. Being a teacher now is so much harder than when I started. We simply had fun. But with all the rise in child abuse, in law suits, in basically unhappy people, teachers have to be careful to protect themselves. I had a male teacher that was accused of inappropriate touching because he hugged the kids. Who doesn’t hug the kids? This mom was on a mission and did not stop until he was fired. Sadly she went after another teacher after that before she finally left. We never had to worry about this kind of behavior in “the old days”. But because of these behaviors, laws have changed. The people who have to monitor have so much more they have to think about and consider when rendering decisions. It’s become a complicated world that has complicated a very important role – Teacher.
But somethings are the same.
The children are still children. Yes, some of them behave in very destructive ways. Our crazy world has affected them too. But they are still new and open and wanting to know and to learn. Children still need solid relationships, inspiring environments, relaxing spaces. And for some children, they only time they get that is with their teacher. And so the teacher continues to barely make a living, continually be devalued, and pushed around like they don’t matter.
But they do. They really do. Just ask a child.
Now go thank a teacher.