Just occasionally some of us teachers would like politicians and [gasp] even parents to spend a day in our shoes. Those are the shoes we happily empty of playground pea gravel and wood chips every evening when the last children are picked up half an hour or more beyond the aftercare closing. Once in awhile we feel a teensy bit beaten down and picked on.
In our dual income household society, teachers of young children frequently spend more hours with a child than she has with either or both of her parents. We are likely to be the only adult who sits down with that child to eat a meal. We may be the only non-electronic source of enrichment in the child's experience. We may be the only adult to talk with the child without conducting a cellphone conversation and driving at the same time. Alas, we are often the only adults who think four year-olds are big enough to take responsibility for flushing and washing their hands, and who make the time to teach five to six year-olds to tie shoes. At the same time we are under the gun to raise test scores we are microwaving students' lunches, providing them with appropriate attire for the weather, keeping detailed records of bowel movements, slathering kids with sunscreen, and remembering which students need hand lotion for dry skin and which need lip moisturizers.
Today I got to attend an outstanding Montessori training at Collin College. The four presenters were all excellent, experienced, knowledgeable and inspiring professionals. We gave up our Saturday to learn proven techniques for improving early literacy and nature study in learner-centered environments. Then we learned which yoga poses relieve constipation in children who might possibly bring way too many processed foods and not nearly enough fresh fruits and veggies in their lunchboxes. We took notes.
I don't have to keep a poop chart for my students, unlike some teacher friends who have to send that report home with each child daily. My dad's nursing aide and I joke about the "Clog Log" where she has to record each elderly resident's successful elimination efforts.
I don't have a "Clog Log" at school, but I get to be the toilet paper cop. We have a bunch of kids who just like to unroll the toilet paper from the spool and wrap it around their hand and sit there and sit there and unroll and wrap until they have a wad as big as a pinata that will plug up the plumbing. If I don't have a mental ticker going for how long the kid has been in the potty and go intervene, I am the one who has to use the plunger and mop the floor. That is not really what I call nature study in the learner-centered environment!
And that, Mr. and Mrs. Politician, must be why you are paying us those outrageously big bucks. Wanna have a go at it?
© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder