Actions Speak Louder than Words-Appreciating our Teachers

Alright, I admit it, I am burnt out.    Burnt out on spending at least nine hours every day with toddlers.  Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do but have you met a toddler? They have runny noses and they will actually run over to wipe on your pants (or shirt, hair, back…whatever is available) They need lots of physical affection and often go about accessing it in the most interesting ways (today for example a little girl put her finger in my ear!? Yep).  Also, they cry….a lot.  I’m comfortable with crying, showing emotion and even encourage it but…it is LOUD sometimes.

I’m burnt out on teaching.  Burnt out on working in a less than supportive environment.  All of the above wouldn’t matter if I was working in a situation where  I had proper support.  Staff development, meetings where we were able to discuss questions and concerns we have about particular children.  Paid time off and the ability to call in sick all would be helpful.  I wish I could say that my current center is out of the norm but unfortunately it is not.  There are far more centers like mine, with exhausted teachers out of time and money to continue professional development.  Frustrated with their lack of professional or personal fulfillment they take things out on the children.  Teachers who aren’t well supported don’t make good teachers.  They either leave the profession or they start to care less.

Luckily I am on the path to personal and professional renewal as I leave my time at this center.  What about everybody else? During this teacher appreciation week I couldn’t help but think about all of the other teachers out there.  Working moms, working students, caring people who probably should have had the pleasure of retiring years ago.   What do we really need to do to show our teachers we appreciate them? Do Starbucks cards and flowers really get the point across?  I admit this is better than nothing at least for a second we feel as if we are appreciated.  Day after day, year after year it just doesn’t cut the mustard.

In their book Professional Capital Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan argue that what we need is a fundamental change that allows for a community of educators to emerge.  This is as true in early childhood education as anywhere.  In some cases I would argue even more so.  Early childhood educators are in the unique position of laying the foundation of our children’s emotional and educational future.  Teachers don’t have the luxury of being able to just ‘phone it in’ ever.  Even if we don’t feel like it how we act and speak is constantly being absorbed by our littlest friends.

I know this question is bigger than this post.  I also know I am not alone in feeling overworked, underpaid and just plain exhausted.  As more and more children start ‘school’ before the age of one and private care/preschool programs move ahead in a largely privatized and practically unregulated manner what can we as teachers do to change the tide? What role, if any, should our society play?   What type of movement will it take to really place educators at the forefront of our country (as they do in Finland)? What are the consequences if we continue the way we are?

Thanks for reading as I vent! 🙂

Melissa

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Elizabeth Winston
    May 09, 2012 @ 18:12:13

    Take a deep breath and remember your goals – all will come together before too long! Love you

    Reply

  2. abundantlifechildren
    May 09, 2012 @ 20:14:43

    Thank you for this! The education system as a whole in the US is SO out of whack. UGH. There is some respite in working alone, and other challenges. The work continues to be very hard, and there is an even smaller (as in NO) budget for professional development. I feel very appreciated by my clients, though I don’t have anyone to pass the crew off to when I am in over my head. 🙂 Sending you fellow mama & teacher hugs. 🙂

    Reply

  3. Kailin
    May 10, 2012 @ 14:30:39

    I stumbled upon your blog on a difficult day at work and read your post, Let Them Climb! and started to cry. Your blog speaks to my struggles, to the struggles of many caregivers. I look forward to all your posts because they mirror my own difficult situatio. Thank you for all that you do, for children and for us caregivers, it’s nice to know that we’re not alone in our struggles. Thank you for giving us a voice.

    Reply

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