Respect for ourselves

As a profession, we really don't have respect for ourselves. What I mean by that is that we don't demand respect for us. Here's a story, go with me on this wild ride for a bit, I'll explain in the end, I promise.

There was a parent (let's call her Shelly) who had a son (let's call him Chad). [side note: I am totally making this story up] So, one day, Chad was riding his bike, climbing trees, doing what young boys do in life when Shelly suddenly heard a scream, a crash, and her heart jumped into her throat as she knew (as any mother does) that her son was injured.

She goes running outside to see Chad sprawled on the ground with tears in his eyes and his arm in a funny direction. Of course, being the good mother, she takes him to the emergency room where she meets the good Doctor.

The Doctor does his doctor things: examines the boy, x-rays the arm, etc... He then turns to Shelly and says, "Your son has broken his arm, we need to set it and cast it."

Shelly responds and says, "No doctor, you are wrong. It's just a little sore. I think we can just put a band aid on it, ice it, and it will be better by tomorrow."

Most of us wouldn't dream of going into a doctor's office and telling him/her how to do his job (okay, with the information age upon us, it's a shame but I know people do; but more times than not, you trust your doctor to know his job). The reason is because we know that this doctor has gone through years of education and learning and practice to get to where he is at. We RESPECT his opinion.

So why do we preschool teachers allow our parents to treat us this way? How Shelly responded to the doctor is exactly how parents respond to us every day. You wouldn't dream of going into a doctor's office and tell him, "Okay, take my temperature and when you see that it's high check my ears and throat and then write me a prescription for azithromycin because I'm allergic to penicillin."

You would let him do his job, do his exam, and then determine if you need medication and which type you need.

When a parent walks into your classroom, they should know that you are educated in the field of Child Development. Put up your diploma, hang your child development permits, and use your knowledge. Use those words and terms that show you are educated in your field.

When a parent comes in and complains to you that your child was bit tell them why! "Your son was sitting at the table next to another child. Children at this age are egocentric, that means that they have no concept of others being separate than them, and no concept of others being others. Your child reached his hand across the plate of another child and that child bit him to either defend his food or because he thought it might be food. That is how a toddler's mind works."

Don't let her tell you that you need to remove that other child from the table. Explain to her, "What both of these children did was completely developmentally appropriate. What we are doing is teaching them how to deal with social situations. It is apparent that your son is not yet ready to site with a group yet. We are going to back up a bit and allow him to sit with only one other child across from him so that he will not be tempted to take food from another child. This will stop your child from being bit again as well as help ease him into social situations."

When a parent comes in and tells you that when her 3 year old child misbehaves she needs to have a 10 minutes time out, don't let her get away with it. You KNOW it's not right. Explain and find a better solution for everyone! "We don't use time outs here at school because they aren't developmentally appropriate and they do not teach the children anything. When she is 'misbehaving' we evaluate the situation and determine what has caused it. Is it too noisy in here? Maybe she's over stimulated. Are there too many children in one space? Or maybe she just needs a break. Once we have evaluated, we will take appropriate action. If that action means that she needs a break from the situation she is in, we will bring her outside the group. We might go for a walk outside, get something from the office. We might have her sit at the table with a quiet activity. Meanwhile, we discuss with her ways to deal with situations that could have been better. When we know that something different is coming up (i.e. a guest speaker) we prepare the children ahead of time letting them know what behavior is expected. If you are having problems with discipline at home, I would be glad to help you find a solution. Let's make time for me to call you today at 1:00 when I will be able to give you my full attention."

YES! I said "I would be glad to help you find a solution!" We have knowledge in our field! We KNOW what is right! We know WHY children act the way they do! We need to USE this information and NOT let parents, who do not have the education in our field, tell us how to do our jobs!

I know I have some parents who read this blog regularly. I don't, for a second, think that you don't have any knowledge on your children. What I do encourage you to do is use our profession to learn better ways. You come here to read my ideas because I am knowledgeable in my profession. Well, all preschool teachers are. We must go to school to do what we do. We must be educated in Child Development before we can step in a classroom as a teacher. We must get experience. USE US! Ask us for help! It's what we do!

It's a waste of our education if parents don't use us; it's a waste of our education if we as teachers don't use our knowledge.


Anonymous said...

This made me laugh only because I *have* gone to doctors and said "This is what I have, give me X." Not once have I had one of them try to tell me I was wrong. It's easier to give me what I want then to waste their time trying to talk me out of it. And I haven't been wrong yet. They may have had 8years of medical school but I have had 32 years of experience with my body.

But I do get your point. :)

Anonymous said...

This blogger is ridiculous. A parent has every right to know why their child was bitten by another child. Why didn't the teacher protect the child? I guess preschool would be enter at your own risk. There's a chance your child might be bitten by another child. This blogger has a very poor and condescending attitude towards parents and I would never put my child in her care! So you know how to do your job! Lovely! While you acknowledge that parents have knowledge of their children, you imply that you know more because you're educated in your field. That is very arrogant of you. It is laughable that she compares her "career" to that of a doctor. You seriously need to get off that high horse of yours.

Jenni said...

I never disagreed about a parent knowing why their child was bitten, read my example and I very clearly state why the child was bitten. I'm not going to go into the very many reasons as to why a child would managed to get bitten in a preschool environment (again, I gave at least one example as well in the examples). There is a very high risk that child will be bitten in a preschool environment; so it is enter at your own risk.

I imply (and outright say it) that I have more knowledge in child development and the reasons behind children's behaviors. That's nothing against a parent.

You don't like my opinion, that's fine. I am far from arrogant. I have been in this field for the better part of 18 years, I have very few parents who I have had issues with because I earn their respect for my profession.

And yes, I do compare my work to that of a doctor; as a doctor goes to school and is highly educated in one area of expertice, so am I. His expertice is in medicine. Mine is in the development and education of young children.

You summed it up very nicely for me, "You know how to do your job!"

I do know my field; it's more than a job and it demands much more respect! The years of study and practice that we put in to our profession is much more than anyone can imagine; I only encourage those in this profession to show how capable we are.

Lucy said...

Parents (and I am a parent of two, a 17 year old and 20 year old) today have no respect for teachers. It is quite sad how parents talk about the teachers in their homes. They openly put them down. Yet, when their child goes off to college and can't make it, they tend to fault the teachers.
I am thinking it is the parent's lack of parenting and backing the teachers that is promoting the failing of our youth today. Professors are complaining that the Freshmen need more remedial work than ever.
A piece of advice to you young parents, stop babying your kids, they really are going to pay a high price in the end for your overprotective behavior.

Janna said...

Um to anonymous... as a mother of a wonderful, loving child who has bitten someone at his childcare before and another child who has been bitten before you cannot predict every moment for every child, but remove them from the situation. Things happen, if you don't want your child to end up with some bumps and scrapes get a nanny to sit in a room with padded walls with him.

Sorry, I just think people sometimes have unrealistic expectations of Child care providers.

It's really easy to jump on a high horse as anonymous, isn't it?