4/05/2010

A Child Alone

A while back I asked you if there was a difference between leaving a child alone for 5 minutes or 45 minutes in a classroom.

On anonymous commenter felt the question was vague.  I left it vague intentionally because I wanted to hear what your thoughts might be.

Am I perfect in teaching?  No.  Have I ever had a child out of my area of supervision and not been aware of it?  Yes.  How long?  Couldn’t have been more than 1 minute and I knew it immediately. 

My story: I was in a classroom that had two doors on either side of the classroom that also had a loft running down the middle of the classroom.  When we were bringing children into the classroom for lunch we came in one door; apparently, on little girl decided she wanted to go BACK out.  I count heads as we go in and I had every child.

When we sat down at the tables, I immediately knew she was not there and immediately knew where she was.  It was no longer than a minute, two tops.  THAT is a verifiable and explainable reason.

Have I had to take teachers to task as a supervisor for not knowing where the children are?  Yes.  Do I take circumstances into consideration?  Yes.  However, I also hold them accountable for their actions.  You must learn from these situations so that they never occur again.

After that one girl left my room, I have NEVER lost a child again.  I learned a big lesson.

I was talking to someone the other day who was defending herself because she had been let go for leaving a child in the classroom.

Her story: A child, let’s call him Danny, was having trouble listening and so she told him to hold her pocket; he was going to have to walk with her a bit.  (This is something that I’ve done on occasion as well when a child needs to have some time with the teacher and refuses to hold my hand, works like a charm; I also use to do this with the child I nannyed when walking in a parking lot with my arms full.)

So this teacher says that Danny was holding her pocket as she brought the children outside and then walked around the playground to see how many the joining classrooms had.  According to her, when she finished so noticed that Danny wasn’t holding her pocket anymore and then asked if anyone saw him.

When she didn’t find him on the yard, she let someone know she was going to look in the classroom…he was there.  “It was only 5 minutes, no more than 10.  I talked to mom about it and she was perfectly fine with it.”

Now, she claims that her coworkers set her up and said that it was 45 minutes and that’s why she was let go.

I can tell you, she did not learn from this situation and I, as a supervisor, would have probably at least written her up if not suspended or fired; it would depend on the history I had with her…she had a history with this supervisor.

I have a few problems with the story as SHE tells it; and it’s only her side that I have heard.

First, I have had children hold my pocket.  I know when they stop walking, I know when they use their other hand to pick their nose, how did she NOT know he had let go?

Second, a mom may be understanding the first time, especially if she knows her child has a tendancy to run off, but I bet she wouldn’t be so understanding the next time.

Next, she is blaming the other teachers for getting her fired rather than saying, “Yeah, I screwed up.  It wasn’t as long as they said, but I will never make that mistake again.” She is saying, “It was only 5 minutes.  Everyone set me up.”

Finally, what really bothers me is the blase attitude that it was only 5 minutes, but she doesn’t know when he let go of her pocket.  Did he even go outside with her?  When did he go back into the classroom? 

Like I said, if she showed some remorse, she would still be in trouble; but probably not let go.  However, I get the idea that her supervisor didn’t trust that it wouldn’t happen again with her history or her attitude.

For me, there is no difference between 5 minutes or 45 minutes; there is a difference as to whether a teacher makes actions to make sure it never happens again…THAT’S the difference.

1 comment:

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Hi Jenni,
I enjoyed reading your post and thought I would take your comments a step further:) This will be coming from an administrator's perspective.

When a child is left unattended by a caregiver for ANY amount of time, there is a risk that something undersirable can happen.

The number one concern of a teacher must be the health and safety of every child in his or her care. Without making health and safety a true priority, all the other aspects of childcare or early childhood education will not be adequately met.

Administrators cannot tell parents or others that because the teacher had this excuse or that excuse, that the risk wasn't present or that that the risk didn't matter.

All it takes is one time for that risk to turn catastrophic and then a child, a family, teachers, administrators, and an entire school will all suffer the consequences.

Children need teachers who take their safety seriously and make it a priority at all times and administrators are ultimately just as responsible should a risk turn into tragedy.

It is simply not worth taking risks where children are involved. Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts:)