Almost two years ago now I wrote a piece called “Don’t call it daycare”. It outlined my day, everything I do and how I am in fact a teacher.
This year, over the course of this pandemic, I’ve been told by all the world outside of my little classroom bubble a lot of mixed messages.
My center has been open the entirety of 2020. Our class sizes have ebbed and flowed, our bleach usage has gone up and we had a glorious season of time where we had turkey burgers and chicken nuggets at lunch.
We’ve been told we’re essential, we’ve been told we’re needed, we’ve been told they couldn’t do it without us.
We’ve been told to try to social distance three-year olds and to not hug them when they fall. We’ve been wearing cloth masks (that I now own about 12-15 of) and doing circle time, singing songs and telling stories.
We’ve watched parents cry before they pick up their kids, we’ve seen kids have tantrums they haven’t ever had, and we’ve missed out on the lives of those who haven’t come back.
But then we were told we were germ factories, we were told we weren’t teachers, we shouldn’t have opinions, we were called daycare over and over.
And then teachers didn’t want to come back to school without all the proper PPE (which rightly so), but then I saw post after post about “daycares” being open so why couldn’t schools.
And more than I ever have in my life, I’ve been told that I am not a teacher.
We’ve been doing a really damn hard thing since March.
And I’m not at all disregarding the hard things K-12 teachers have been doing. I’ve sent venmo’s to friends who are teachers and donated from their amazon lists and sent them coffee cards.
What I am saying is that I applied for a new job in July and was so excited to no longer in be in a profession where I felt so underappreciated by the outside world.
And when they came back after a preliminary phone interview and said thanks but no thanks, I was crushed.
I was crushed for a lot of reasons: it was a writing job that used my child development knowledge, it was remote, and, in all honesty, it would have been a needed change.
But apparently it wasn’t where my 2020 story was supposed to go.
I am so grateful that in the story of 2020 in the lives of so many of my families I will have a bookmarked spot. As hard as it has been, mostly mental health wise, I know that I am a human that can do hard things like I did and am doing and that I am a constant stability in the lives of my tiny humans. I am grateful for our families and for my boss and that we’ve done this together to the best of our abilities as we too have been building the plane as we flew it.
But the inability to feel as if I am a teacher is really damn hard. To feel that I don’t have a voice regarding being a teacher and in feeling like what I do isn’t enough.
I’m not writing all of this to get accolades or to blame.
I’m writing it because it makes me sad, angry and everything emotion in between.
I’m writing it because I’m not the only one who feels this way.
And I’m writing it because early learning teachers deserve better.