Wednesday, March 11, 2020

SOL20 Slice #11: Too many people

I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2020.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

The preschool classroom is a collaborative classroom, with a team of teachers working together. This year, I'm part of a four-person team, working with 21 three-year olds. Unfortunately, it has also been a turbulent year with sickness, family emergencies, and other unforeseen circumstances requiring lots of different substitutes and temporary assignments of staff, to work with my students. Our substitutes come from a contracted pool, and we rarely if ever see the same one twice. It's funny to me that the children always welcome the new adult as a rock star - as if they are thinking: YAY! Someone new to KNOW!! I, however, find the near-constant changes in staffing to be one of my biggest challenges. My head is filled with constant tension and calculation for every it easier to just do more work, to do the things myself? Or should I take the time to show the new person how to do it? Plus, there's no denying that the whole classroom has a different feel, when I am working with someone new; I find myself hungering for normalcy, the tried and true.

It seems so simple, to help out in a preschool classroom. I think: do what needs doing. Seek out groups of children. Support, listen, converse, re-direct, extend. However, I'm wrong about this simplicity - it is not instinctive to join in the play with young children.

My team reflected on the many different personalities we have met, chuckling with memories:
  • The gruff one, who spoke sternly to the children about obedience.
  • The one who would have made a great museum docent, walking about the classroom slowly with their hands folded behind their back.
  • The one who appeared dressed for a corporate job, and tried to avoid preschoolers with paint and glue and yuck.
  • The energetic one, who I had to redirect even more than the children, as they regaled children with stories about them-self, and even got their phone out to show them a favorite video game. 
  • The one with no affect, saying nothing, who sat down immediately in the quietest part of the room, apart from preschoolers, and had to be reminded, all day long, to assist with the children.
  • The one who overshared about their personal life - to the preschoolers!
  • The one who found the quietest, calmest child and stayed glued to her, unavailable for anyone/anything else.
  • The one who asked question after question, talking over the children, even interrupting my read-aloud.
  • The one who reeked of smoke...should they really work with young children?
  • The one who seemed annoyed when any task was suggested.
Every now and again, we have had a real gem of a substitute: friendly, focused, kind, hard-working, able to instigate great conversations with children, willing to wipe up spills, sweep floors, and do basically anything that needs doing.

These gems are all too rare.


  1. For years I had no clue about how complicated early childhood education is. Then I attended a state training and learned many first graders don’t know how to hold a book, so I can imaging how hard it has been to have ineffective adults underfoot. Still, I chuckled at some of the descriptions. Some adults need to learn age appropriateness.

  2. I love your descriptions of the types who have come through your classroom. I especially love the preschool attitude towards them.

  3. What a shame that the contracted pool can't be more successful at targeting those better suited to pre-school. Some folks operate under the misguided notion that the younger the student, the easier the job. Not hardly!

  4. You have captured many of the prototypes in your list. Why DO some of them want to work with children?