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I am on my wits end

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Owlheart Owlheart is offline
 
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Owlheart
 
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I am on my wits end
Old 12-21-2020, 06:18 PM
 
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Good evening,

I was hoping if you can help me better understand the situation I am having with my work. I work at a preschool/ daycare and recently some of their actions have had me question if this okay or not. I wanted your professional opinion on the matter and see if this is normal or not.

In our preschool/ daycare, we have 3 classrooms and each classroom can have 24 students and 3 teachers. However, due to covid, we have reduced the number of children to 12 and 3 teaches. Furthermore, due to covid, we have recently opened up a new 4th classroom. I've worked with this preschool for 3 years now and I believe since I already knew my way around the preschool they gave me the position of being the main teacher.

At first, I was excited and felt honored to be placed in that position because I only worked for them for 3 years and I thought this will be a big opportunity for me. Little by little though I started thinking maybe I jump on the opportunity too soon. For one, my teacher assistant isn't a veteran and she actually taught in El Salvador before coming here and so she doesn't have much experience with how the U.S educational system works. When I ask politely why they will give me a teacher assistant who was just as new as me they said something along the lines of, "we needed a balanced in the classroom so we needed a teacher with a strong personality and a teacher who is softer." Even though there were other teacher assistants who have worked in that preschool for 10+ years and can be considered "softer." To me, I thought it was weird that they will give a classroom to two new teachers and not one new and one experienced teacher. I'm not sure if this was okay. Nevertheless, I thought that I can teach some of the things I learned so far and then work our way there.

I was told that I was going to have one more staff member to help cover our breaks and also clean and sanitize our toys. However, we are severely understaffed( we are always understaffed) and so is just me and my co worker. We cover each other breaks even though I been told time and time again that I can't leave her alone with the kids and someone with credentials needs to be with her and yet here we are.

Second, the students I was assigned for, two of them I was told will most likely need to be potty trained. I thought it wouldn't be so bad until the first day of the new classroom when I found out that those two kids were autistic. I was a bit upset that I wasn't informed beforehand but I try to see how I can work with them and help them be potty trained. My co-workers gave me a few suggestions but they also pointed out how unfair and strange it was that they were willing to give two inexperienced teachers children who will need a bit of extra attention. Nonetheless, I looked online on what to do and a lot of them said that you can't push the child because they might fear the toilet (my two kids are), make it more fun for them, and look for signs to see if they're ready. My preschool/ daycare right away told parents that they can't bring them in diapers or pull off anymore and that we will work with them here.

Both my kids have a hard time with speech so at times if hard for them to communicate with us but they can understand when we talk to them. I'm a bit confused because I keep hearing different things from various teachers, including my supervisor. They made it seem like I have to potty train them right away and encourage them to use the toilet but both of my kids are hesitant and I feel uneasy pushing them too hard without establishing some sort of trust with me and my co-worker. Also, other staff members will tell me we can't wipe the child or we can but then another staff member had to be there with you or have the child consent and understand. However, one of our kids doesn't let us go near him or touch him when he pooped himself and he seems stressed. I don't know if this is okay or he just feels overwhelmed because of all the commotion that happens (we only have one bathroom so it gets chaotic with kids coming in and out and all the noise).

In one particular incident, they had to forcefully remove the child's clothes because he refuses to be changed (although again he might of felt overwhelm since there where so many teacher around him and other children). I felt uneasy but again didn't know if this was normal even though previously they told me that I have to respect the child and not push him too hard. One of my co-workers said during that time "you just have to power through it, clean him up quickly and he will soon forget the incident because we can't have him with poop either." Another incident they had me carry the child because he wouldn't move and was crying loudly and disrupting the other kids nap time. Again I've been told that I must not carry the kids and yet again they have me do the opposite. My supervisor tends to look the other way and hardly help us.

I feel frustrated because I'm not sure where the line is at this preschool and whether my actions are okay or not. On top of that, I sometimes feel like this classroom was just a filler and they don't take the classroom seriously. For example, when I ask questions about other situations I am having whether is paperwork or other students the response from my supervisor will be, "don't worry about it" or just other half-baked answers that leave me with more questions.

is this normal or okay? Did I get the short end of stick? What are your thoughts on this?

The preschool/ daycare is almost having their winter break and so next month I'm planning on buying potty training books and a toy so I can start introducing it to my kids.

Thank you for your time


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cailin cailin is offline
 
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cailin
 
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after 3 years...
Old 01-01-2021, 03:43 AM
 
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I would consider you experienced, maybe not as experienced as other members of staff but certainly not new.
As regards the two children I would request a meeting with everyone who deals with them to agree on the way forward regarding potty training. Consistency is key, this should be your message, so that the children know the expectations.
Are there any staff members who have experience with children with autism? Can you ask their advice? Ask the parents what advice they have been given by doctors?
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broomrider broomrider is offline
 
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some thoughts
Old 01-10-2021, 11:32 PM
 
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And I'm sorry they are coming so late, I seldom read this board.

Some background: I taught preschool for Los Angeles City Schools in the l980s, never private which can be different. I've also taught institutionalized autistic persons, mostly teen and adult so toilet training not an issue. I have a special ed preschool credential.


You've been put in some very difficult positions by your supervisors.

You are a credentialed teacher and have been told not to leave your aide alone with the students. If you are not in the room and something happens, a child falls and hurts him/herself, etc. you will be held accountable. Yet, you require breaks and meals away from the students. I would summon my courage and meet with my supervisor and ask who will cover my breaks--work out a schedule when someone else with a credential will be present to give you breaks. If the person is not there within 5 minutes of the agreed time, call the office and ask for your relief to be reminded to come. Do it every time. You are not being a pain, you are being a responsible employee. They could get into trouble with labor laws for not giving you breaks. You are helping them. Remind them of that.

Look up labor laws regarding breaks and meals for your state. You are working to keep the school out of trouble.

Do not carry the children alone. You've been told not to carry a child. If there is any problem when you are doing so, you are liable. The school is covered because they told you not to do that and likely wrote it down. If a child needs to be carried, call for assistance.Remind them you are following school directives.You are covering the school so they will not be faulted by the parents for any problems while an employee is carrying a child alone. Also I bet they are covered if you injure your back while carrying a child since they've told you not to do that. No workman's compensation for you.

I suggest you ask for a meeting with your director, the parents of each child separately, and yourself to develop a toilet training plan. It needs to be the same at home and at school. The same words and routines need to be established at each setting. I'd also ask the parents for permission to exchange information with any doctors or other agency personnel who work with each child. They may have a speech pathologist, physical therapist, etc. who could be very helpful. There likely is a form that needs to be filled out to exchange information due to privacy issues. Be sure your director knows you will be asking the parents to allow and help with communication among those who work with the child. This is to help the child in every setting. One of the hallmarks of autism for many is "maintaince of sameness." Routines and the environment are dependable and consistent to reduce anxiety for the child.

If the situation is as you describe, I think you are being put at risk by the school. They are making demands on you and on the children without giving adequate support.

Frankly, I'd be looking for other employment. I know jobs are not easy to get right now and covid exposure is a threat. I'm certainly not a lawyer, but it seems like supervisors are giving you directives that you cannot reasonable follow and distancing themselves from any fall out. "We've told her not to do that, but she did it anyway and look what happened. It's not our liability." (It likely is still at least partially on them because you are acting as their agent while employed, but still very problematic for you.)

I think some of the things I've suggested will be hard for you to do. Bottomline is no one will look out for your interests but you. Protect yourself.
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