Please help me w/ my job as a preschool teacher - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-24-2006, 10:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am close to quitting my job and I desperately need your wisdom and insight. So I got a job as a preschool teacher's assistant full-time. I teach a class of 20 2-year-olds along with one other teacher. My problem is not with the kids as much as the expectations of the director/staff. It's as if they expect 2 year olds to follow a Kindergarten curriculum and do things like "stay in your centers" and "line up single file before going outside." From 4:00-6:00 parents pick up the kids and so the director likes to make sure we "have the class under control" and nice and neat for the parents to see. The kids make a mess, they like to go from one things to another, they like to yell and run and laugh loud. I want to just let them do their thing. But I get chewed out about it by the director when I do just let them be happy and explore. How can I cope with such a situation. Are there any techniques I can use to help get the children's attention at times when I am forced to (like storytime)? Are there any discipline techniques you think would be especially helpful when dealing with such a large group of kids? I feel like I don't have the time to sit down and really address and talk to the kids about negative behaviors (hitting, biting, etc.)

I do not agree with the way some of the teachers treat children and I'm having a hard time dealing with that too. They tell me I "have to be more stern" and act like I just let the kids walk all over me, when really I just don't see anything wrong with letting kids act like kids.

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Old 10-24-2006, 10:58 PM
 
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I would honestly have a problem keeping my mouth shut. Expectations are way too high for 2 year olds.

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But I get chewed out about it by the director when I do just let them be happy and explore.
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I do not agree with the way some of the teachers treat children and I'm having a hard time dealing with that too. They tell me I "have to be more stern" and act like I just let the kids walk all over me, when really I just don't see anything wrong with letting kids act like kids.
Is the job really worth being treated like that?
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Old 10-24-2006, 11:11 PM
 
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My only advice is make all tasks fun. When lining the children up, pretend they are all planes, or walking on clouds- something other than just walking in line. Use voices when reading stories, aske them questions during the story to engage them. You have to accept that not all two year olds will sit quietly when you are reading- it is an unresonable expectaion.

When I worked with a large group of preschoolers and we wanted them to all be "listening" I would point out the child that was doing the behavior I wanted. Ususally when the kids saw that their classmate was doing somehting the teacher thought was "good" they would all mimck the behavior.

Sometimes you have to play around with different techniques to see what works best with the children in your group.

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Old 10-25-2006, 01:30 AM
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In my state, the required ratio is at least one adult for every seven 2 year olds. The NAEYC requires at least 1:6, with a maximum group size of 12. I think 20 is nuts, honestly. IMO there's no way to adequately care for that many kids at once.

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Old 10-25-2006, 12:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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In my state, the required ratio is at least one adult for every seven 2 year olds. The NAEYC requires at least 1:6, with a maximum group size of 12. I think 20 is nuts, honestly. IMO there's no way to adequately care for that many kids at once
I agree! Our ratio is 1:10. I think we get a lot of parent complaints about that but the director said there is nothing she can do....I think the owners enforce that ratio. With 20 kids and only 2 teachers it is all we can do to just keep them from hurting themselves or each other. Someone it always trying to climb up on something or hitting someone so I have to interrupt activities even when most of the kids are listening to a story or coloring or whatnot....then it just disintegrates into total chaos.

Jazzmin I'm going to try a lot of those suggestions! Usually we "make a train" to line them up and I do the "chugga chew chew" sounds and most of them will get in a semi-organized line. We have about 4-5 younger boys who just won't pay attention to what the rest of the class is doing no matter what. I have to go pick them up and sit them in the line and while I'm doing that the kids who were in the line start getting bored and coming out of line and dragging out more toys.....
:
off to work...

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Old 10-25-2006, 01:21 PM
 
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It sounds like it might be helpful if you and your co-teacher were a better team. If you are actively leading an activity, shouldn't the co-teacher be the one to work with the kids who aren't following the program, so to speak? That way you aren't leaving 16 kids waiting (which will always lead to trouble) to deal with 4 who aren't.

Our school also uses a lot of "jobs" to keep the kids involved. Each day there are assigned line leaders (both front and back), napkin helpers, Story pickers and story announcers and so on. I think about 25% of the class is some sort of leader or helper each day.

Lines are almost something fun -- trains, airplains, various animals, "walking the tightrope" (cement seam). Stories frequently have songs and/or movements involved.

And finally, I, as a parent of a current preschooler (who started at 2), would MUCH MUCH MUCH rather see fun and happy children than hear a harried, frustrated, angry teacher trying to "get control" over the class. If it really bothers you, try talking to the parents about what THEY want and then go back to the director with that information -- in a calm, factual way, non-confrontational way of course.
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Old 10-25-2006, 01:27 PM
 
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One thing we did when I taught this age and this size group was to have several different group times each day.

We sang active songs like the monkey Jumping on the bed, and swinging in the tree. That way the kids are up and jumping up and down. We did VERY short stories. We read the same stories over and over and over. They like repetition.

We only put out a few centers at a time. Even now with my small group in my home, I only put out two centers. I change them often throughout the day, but never more than two at a time. Otherwise, they will just mix all the toys together, and you spend more time cleaning and organizing than you want to.

Two year olds can walk in SHORT lines, for short walks(holding on to each other's sholders). We would play Choo Choo. And on our walks we would sing a song about a choo choo with a cold. But, 20 kids cannot walk together in one line.

Unfortunately when there are 20 kids in one room, it's all about control, not discipline. You just keep them too busy to cause trouble. We called it "controlled chaos".
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Old 10-25-2006, 01:34 PM
 
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I agree! Our ratio is 1:10. ...

In the late 80s, the ratio was 1:17. One teacher and SEVEVNTEEN two year olds???????? I still wonder how I did it.
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Old 10-25-2006, 02:08 PM
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I think that you would be much happier in a quality daycare with smaller group sizes and more reasonable expectations of the children. There is nothing wrong with having a daily small group time and expecting kids to sit in it for a short time period (10-15 minutes), clean up times scattered through out the day, and with expecting older children to clean up before moving to another activity (with reminders), but it sounds like this is a more extreme situation. I suggest finding another workplace asap.

I do have to say about being sterner that in some situations in group care you can't use the same techniques that you use at home with your kids and expect things to work out the same way they do at home. At home you have more time to allow things to work out and can be inconsistent and your kids may still do fine. In group care the 20 kids pick up on inconsistency and on what works to get attention (especially if there is not a lot going around) and they do what works. It can get very chaotic with this many kids pushing limits because they aren't clear and things like biting and hitting spread fast when kids realize that it gets them what they want so eliminating the reward for the behavior and clearly stating that it isn't okay with a stern look and voice tends to work very well. If overall you are loving a gentle and get stern for the big things it should have a greater effect on the behavior than if you are always stern or always gentle.
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Old 10-25-2006, 02:58 PM
 
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{quote]One teacher and SEVEVNTEEN two year olds????????[/quote]

:

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Old 10-26-2006, 11:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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In the late 80s, the ratio was 1:17. One teacher and SEVEVNTEEN two year olds???????? I still wonder how I did it.
what a nightmare! I can't even imagine.

I think I'll talk to my co-teacher about working better as a team. I think it will help a lot if one of us is responsible for the main group and one of us takes care of getting the kids back where they are supposed to be rather than both of us stopping the activity to run and get the ones who aren't listening to follow the group.


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If overall you are loving a gentle and get stern for the big things it should have a greater effect on the behavior than if you are always stern or always gentle.
I tried this yesterday along with lots of positive reinforcement and it really worked! Granted we had less kids than usual- only 15. But my hitter/biter didn't hit or bite anyone all day!!! I tried to keep calm at all times and not stress about the director getting pissed about the mess. The kids really picked up on the relaxed vibe and were less aggressive and high-strung.

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And finally, I, as a parent of a current preschooler (who started at 2), would MUCH MUCH MUCH rather see fun and happy children than hear a harried, frustrated, angry teacher trying to "get control" over the class. If it really bothers you, try talking to the parents about what THEY want and then go back to the director with that information -- in a calm, factual way, non-confrontational way of course.
That's how I feel- if my son was in preschool and I walked in on kids laughing and playing and yes, making a bit of a mess, I would be happy. I would be glad that they are letting them explore rather than worrying so much about the mess and the noise.

I think I will probably have to have a talk with the director. Yesterday during center time a Speech pathologist came in to talk to us about what we can do to help one of our kids with his language skills. The director came in with him and started giving us the evil eye and picking up toys and slamming them on the changing table where my co-teacher was changing a diaper. The room wasn't even in that big of a mess, all the kids were in their centers, and they weren't even being loud. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those "If you don't like how I do things find yourself another teacher" jobs. And I'll be looking for a daycare/preschool more in line with my philosophy or a different job altogether.

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Old 10-26-2006, 12:29 PM
 
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i think that situation is setting everyone up to fail. too many kids, not enough teachers and unrealistic expectations for them. maybe you should go elsewhere or ask the director of the school to hire an additional staff member, that many kids and they have to be making enough money.
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Old 10-26-2006, 01:20 PM
 
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i think that situation is setting everyone up to fail. too many kids, not enough teachers and unrealistic expectations for them. maybe you should go elsewhere or ask the director of the school to hire an additional staff member, that many kids and they have to be making enough money.
Well, I do think the number of kids and teachers CAN work. This was the situation in my DDs classroom and I was always happy with the care she received. And I don't think the teachers were overly stern, though they did have higher expectations than I do/did and I was constantly amazed at what the kids did by themselves. But there wasn't the pressure for everything to be "controlled" that I am hearing about.

In this case, it sounds like a director who is unreasonable. Yes, talk to the director once because that's always the best thing to do. But then don't be afraid to seek out a place that is more in tune with your values. Preschool teachers, at least around here, are in constant demand and you shouldn't have a problem finding something better.

The reason that I suggested talking to the parents was because maybe the parents have chosen this school because of its reputation for curbing discipline problems and providing stern structure. Some parents do want that, though probably few on these boards! If so, then the director is going to try to protect her "niche" in the preschool market and nothing you present will change that. And you will always be unhappy teaching there if you feel this isn't the way children should be taught.
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Old 10-26-2006, 10:19 PM
 
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To get the children to come to a circle for reading, I used to sing " ____ is here today, ____ is here today, High ho the merrio, ____ is here today.
And so on until everyone was sitting, singing and clapping. Then I would start the story. If one child needed help/ personal attention, the 2nd teacher would help instead of me stopping. I try very very hard to ignore disruptive behaviors and not stop reading unless its an emergency!

Good luck!
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Old 10-26-2006, 10:32 PM
 
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wow, in NY our ratio is 1 to 5. So dont feel bad because you shouldnt be able to handle that many kids! I taught pre-school before my baby waas born, We had music class! We would get our 2 year old in a circle on our fun circle shaped rugs, the instruments will draw them in. Let them make as much noise as they want so it looks organized because it's music class. Meanwhile they get out all thier energy and before you know it it's lunch time, then nap time! It is possible for 2 year olds to help clean up.
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Old 10-27-2006, 01:51 AM
 
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I think your director has unreasonable expectations.

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