Decision Made

Well, at least on my part.  My opinion does weigh a lot in this and it’s NOT a fun position to be in.  I suggested today that we find another program for a child.

Was it because his behaviors are so outrageous that we can’t handle them?  No.

Was it because the teachers were beyond their abilities?  Absolutely not!  As a matter of fact, the child’s behaviors have greatly improved since he has been with these teachers…just not enough.

Was it because he was too much for anyone to handle?  Nope, as a matter of fact, I haven’t run into one person at that center who wants to see him go.

So, why, then, do I feel like he should benefit someplace else?

For two reasons:

First, he needs more attention than we can give him.  He takes more than 50% of the teaching staff’s time every day.  If there were only a 1:2 ratio, this wouldn’t be a bad thing.  However, our ratio is 1:8.  Anything more than 20% is excessive.

Does it really come down to the math?  No…and yes.  That leads to the second reason.  It’s not fair to all the other children in the program.  It’s not that he was getting 50% of the time of ONE teacher…he was getting 50% of the time with ALL the teachers in that particular room AND, while outside, a good chunk of time from all the other staff out there.

The other children are missing out on so much interaction, education, and experiences.

This is NOT a decision I came to lightly.  I’ve been struggling with it for quite a while now.  I sat down with the Director of that site today and explained my thoughts to her.  I think she knew/knows the right thing to do…but no one wants to “give up” on a child.

It’s not giving up.  It’s giving him another opportunity, and opportunity that he just isn’t getting with us.  It’s also giving every other child in the center an opportunity that has been missing for him.

So, what was my deciding point?  I don’t have any one particular point; however I came to an understanding the other day as I was thinking about this situation: the center was becoming defined by what we do for this child…not what we do for children.  The center was/is revolving around him and him only…that’s just not right.


jenny said...

I don't envy your decision at all. Its one of the really hard parts of teaching, but it sounds like you explored every avenue and are doing the best for all the kids involved. We have a child who was asked to leave another centre, and is now at ours. His behaviour is challenging every day but we see small improvements which have us encouraged. At the same time, we are all too aware of the time we are taking away from the other children at the centre. We are really feeling that loss, while trying to do the best for this child. We are supporting the parents to find help from other professionals because we know there is only so much we can do as teachers, and also to give us strategies to use at preschool. Just wanted to say I know where you are coming from :)

Barbra Stephens said...

I am so sorry, Jenni. I know I still don't know the whole story but I do feel your pain in your writing.
I suppose I have worked in many learning environments. Some children thrived in Montessori, while others in DAP setting. Some thrived better in Reggio Emilia and some in Home Schooling. Why am I saying this? Because I have worked in all of them. Finding the right learning environment is so important-even if it is a special needs or at risk environment for a child-sometimes, it is not permanent and it doesn't mean we failed.
Whatever the case maybe it is clear you have thought this through, and all your hearts are with this child. But in some case is, perhaps like with this child, forcing an issue is like keeping a freshwater fish in a saltwater tank.

Jenni said...

Jenny, thank yo ufor your kind words. It truly is a tough decision. Luckily we have the resources at our dispossal to help both the child and the parents with this. We have such a strong foundation for him that when the decision is given to the parent there will be a counselor right there AND a referal to the locations we think are better suited for him.

Barbara, you nailed it on the head: a freshwater fish in a saltwater tank! Yes! He just needs something we can't give him. I think I have, in my career, come to the knowledge that it's not failure, it's getting the teachers to understand that it's not THEIR failure either.

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and words in this struggle. Now, for me in my position, it's about giving the support to the teachers who will, in a way, go through somewhat of a period of grief. They'll get through it, it's just going to be a struggle.

Barbra Stephens said...

You are welcome, Jenni.
You are a very strong person and made a stand for this little person as well as your staff.
In the past I have made arrangements to have some small token of appreciation done for the staff to let them know how hard they have worked and come through. I usually buy packets of cards and write to each staff member individually letting them know how much I appreciate them.
They will be looking to you as a source of support now. Staff members don't take others making courageous stands lightly.