it takes a village, preschool, tiny human teacher

Don’t call it daycare

I’ve had a lot of rants in my head the last couple weeks. Numerous really. They range from personal, to things I shouldn’t have opinions about but do, to the thing I spend most of thought life on: work.

In the last few weeks I’ve been told that I’m not a real teacher and “oh, so a glorified nanny”.

So, I thought for anyone out there who’s ever wondered what the day of an early learning lead teacher looks like I thought I’d give you a (basic) day in the life of. My days look routinely different but all still the same, basic form.

And I wanted to write this out to the best of my ability for a lot of reasons, but one main one being this: I am a teacher. My teaching looks different then an elementary or high school teacher. At the Y I’m not only helping kids learn their numbers and color and letters but I am help them learn to listen to their bodies, to calm them down, to understand what they need. I’m helping them interact with their friends and be in community.

Just because the kiddos we teach are birth to five does not mean we are not teachers.

What I do, what we do, is so important.

So, without further ado:

A day in the life of Teacher Meg:

And while reading the following schedule remembering I am also doing the following during this entire day: constantly counting children, constantly talking to children, about every 5-10 minutes going up to a pair of kiddos and helping them talk out a conversation or a squabble, snuggling a sad friend, talking to at least two kids about listening to their bodies or helping wipe a nose, seeing something every five minutes that I need to document for assessment, note for a parent, add or change for early achievers or write on my “I need” list in the office. (All while hearing teacher meeeeegggggggg from across the room every two mi

6:30-7:15: clock in, turn on lights, alternate between filling spray bottles, setting up classroom with activities, writing about our day, filling out daily paperwork probably with kids in the room.

7:15-8:15: greet kiddos, talk to parents, help kiddos say bye, write notes on clipboard for my other staff in the room, maybe change a potty training accident or two, read at least three books, change the activities from an art to math activity, document said math activity for assessment, field at least four phone calls, talk two tiny humans through an argument over who was wearing the necklace first, three step the tables, monitor the tiny human sweeping up the sand and the one counting spoons for breakfast, snap a couple pictures to enter documentation for later.

8:10: give a clean up warning.

8:15: Michelle comes in, I ring the clean up bell.

8:16: ring the bell again and help the now 10 kids put baskets away.

8:20: Excuse kids to gathering time loft so breakfast can get set out.

8:22: Sing for the first of many times

“How many friends are here today, here to learn, here to play?

How many friends are here today, put up your hand I can count you”

8:25: greet our 11th friend and give them a job so they feel less sad.

8:30 send quiet friends down for breakfast to wash their hands

8:30-9:00: breakfast. Help clean up spilled milk, get more breakfast, run in and out of the storage closet to continue to get activities ready for the day. Give snuggles to our 12th and 13th kiddo, help friends clean up breakfast, make a note about so and so pouring milk, take the break schedule and make additions to it, write out a nap chart and reports for the day all while continuing to explain to tiny human why putting our spoon in our milk makes it tip.

9:00 Mercedes comes in, give her the fastest run down of the day while helping Michelle clean the kitchen so we can put out table activities. Legos, scissor cutting and sorting are where it’s at.

9:05 attempt to leave the room on my break, stop to give a hug and help someone put on their shoes. (All while Michelle is doing dishes with a half turn to the classroom and Mercedes is sending kiddos to the bathroom)

9:07: get out the back door, mobile order, go to Starbucks and then speed walk up to the annex to grab a book and some vanilla for a baking project.

9:20: go back in the classroom, stick my coffee in the fridge and remember I forgot to go to the bathroom, it’s fine I’ll do it later. Give a clean up warning. Say hi to our 14th and 15th kiddos.

9:20-9:30: get out all of the ingredients and automatically have 8 tiny humans pulling up chairs to watch me measure out ingredients. Remind them have to clean up their areas. They go back reluctantly after I tell them I will wait.

9:30: measure out ingredients showing the different tools we use and set them on the counter.

9:35 ring the clean up bell.

9:37 ring it again.

9:38-9:45: alternate between helping clean up and sending kiddos who have cleaned up to wait on the rug.

9:45-10:05: gathering time upstairs. Count our friends, get out wiggles, move back to the rug, stand up and help a friend go back to the rug all while downstairs is getting set up for our cooking activity. Build our recipe on a white board. Talk about our families. Take deep breathes to calm our body.

10:05-10:10: send kiddos back downstairs to wash hands and find their name at the tables.

10:10-10:25: make cookies. This process involves talking about numbers as ingredients and what makes reactions, and yes you will get a turn and and I need you to wash your hands again and no you can only have three chocolate chips right now. All of this gets documented and pictures are taken for our parent Facebook and for my notes.

10:25-10:30: send kiddos to wash hands again and pick an area to play in.

10:30-11:15: while I roll cookies: three kids sit with me and we talk about what we out in the cookies and how long they will take to bake. Some more kiddos help unload the dishwasher and count forks. From across the room I see two tiny humans organize food in a tray to serve in their restaurant and three who are parking in their parking lot according to where they live. I snap some pictures and make a note in my brain. I maybe answer a couple phone calls, one from a parent who is picking up early, so I make a note to write their daily report out. Also during this time sending kids to put shoes and socks on.

(11:05: put cookies in the oven so they can eat them outside)

11:10 give a clean up warning.

11:15-11:25 clean up, get jackets on, line up, grab cookies and head outside.

11:30-12:00 while the kids are running and playing outside I set up beds, lunch and if I have a few spare moments work on uploading assessments, working on the classroom or writing reports. And also run to the bathroom.

12:00-12:15 transition kids back, read a story while lunch gets put out, send the friends who have wiggles down to help. Inside serve lunch, try to sit for a minute or two to talk to kiddos about their favorite parts of the day.

12:15-12:45 my lunch (I’m getting better at not doing anything during this time, but sometimes I upload photos, go get ideas about kiddos and behavior, write reports, scroll Pinterest and preschool Facebook groups for ideas and also finish the coffee I haven’t drank since 9:30)

12:45-1:45: during this time it’s simultaneously putting kids to sleep, talking about why we need sleep, giving quiet activities to awake kids, cleaning the kitchen, doing the lunch dishes, writing reports, making notes for my closer, for myself and trying to time things so that when I take my ten I can leave the room quickly.

1:45-1:55 ten minute break: finish reports, sort photos for the day, laugh with Michelle about something that was absurd and take a deep breath.

1:55-2:45: set out quiet activities on the tables, unload dishwasher, finish paperwork, invite kiddos to do quiet activities, change white board message, set out bin on beds for clean-up, sit with the kiddos for a few moments make some notes about counting and letter recognition.

2:45 turn lights on, wash tables as all the kids wake up and take off sheets, send them to put on shoes and take off pull-ups. Write down all wake up times and special notes to parents on daily reports.

2:55-3:10 set out snack, touch base with my closer, say bye three times, grab ipad and reports to take to the office.

3:11: inevitably forget something in my classroom, go back and get it, say bye again.

3:12-3:30: sit in the office and finish uploading photos on Facebook and putting pictures in folders. Make copies of a note I wrote to a parent, tell a funny story about my day.

3:40 go home.

That’s it.

For over ten years give or take I’ve been teaching tiny humans. No, I don’t have a degree in it but I have loads training and tons of experience.

I can mostly say I’m really good at my job, but almost every day I leave with the ability that I could have done more, sat more, taught more. My day looks like a lot of transitions and daily activities but so much learning is happening. Language and math and science and social emotional development. Friendships and community dynamics. I’ve watched kids go from tiny 1 years olds to kids getting easy for kindergarten and my preschooler were ones I snuggled in the baby room.

I’ve spent a better part of my life helping tiny humans learn to be good humans.

So for all those reasons (and so many more):

I beg, implore, ask: please remember that early learning all the way from infants to kids going to kindergarten is so important. The teachers care more than you know and do more than you would ever see.

So please, please;

Don’t call it daycare.

it takes a village, preschool, tiny human teacher

a letter from your teacher

To my tiny humans,

It’s been awhile since I’ve written you a letter, been awhile since I’ve sat back and thought about all of you over the past 11 years.

It’s a little overwhelming.

I’m on the brink of a very busy season in regards to being a teacher. Deadlines and ratings and holidays and getting everything just right. If I’m being honest I am a little stressed.

Right now though, in my writing nook in my room, I can see the class pictures from the last two years at the Y and those tiny humans make me think of the ones at Lighthouse and Newport Mesa. They make me think of barefooted Mozambican tiny humans and Ecuadorian tiny humans in school uniforms.

I’ve gone through a lot in my 11 years working with you guys. I’ve been a teacher, a mentor, an administrator, a leader, a pastor, a coordinator. I’ve learned a lot, laughed a lot, cleaned up poop a lot (tiny, adult and cat) and I have cried a lot.

I don’t know if you guys realize this but you guys aren’t always easy.

And I have to be real I’ve wanted to walk away A LOT. I did actually. I remember sitting across the table from a mentor in Spain and saying the last thing I wanted to do when I moved to Bellingham was work with kids.

But sweet kiddos, I want you to know you’ve been worth it and you are worth it.

I didn’t plan on being a teacher.

And honestly I still don’t think this is forever.

But every single one of the tiny humans I’ve had, some now in their late teens, have been worth it.

And I’ve learned something from each group, honestly each tiny human, I’ve had. I’ve learned about myself, I’ve learned my strengths, my weaknesses. I’ve learned my limits and I’ve learned that I frequently push the boundaries of said limits.

You’ve inspired me.

You’ve inspired me to think differently and see humans for who they are. You’ve inspired me to see things for what they will become, not just what they are.

You’ve reminded me frequently just to sit and play legos.

You’ve reminded me to laugh, to breathe.

And in the moment; with the tiny humans when they are tiny, that’s really hard to communicate. I tell my tiny humans I love them, give them hugs, wipe their tears, give them comfort.

But it’s really hard to tell them that they are worth it. That the reason I come back to my classroom day after day is because of them.

I was having a conversation with Rachel tonight. Rachel is a mom of one of my preschoolers 8 years ago. She frequently reminds me what I meant to her sons learning. I am grateful for the ability to see her amazingly wonderful not-so-tiny-humans grow.

And she reminded me tonight that I do do what I do for the tiny humans, because I myself have had teachers that have greatly impacted me.

But, I don’t think teachers always a get a chance to tell their students, mine being mainly tiny humans, that it’s them, at the end of the day, that bring us back the next day.

So, if you are a parent of now not-so-tiny-human of mine, remind your kiddos that Miss Meghan or Miss Meg or Sox or Teacher Meg believes in them even still. That I cheer them on when I see their victories, that I feel old as they climb higher into double digits.

Remind them they have yet another person in their corner who thinks they are worth it. That they have all the gifts and talents and abilities to the damn thing in life. Well, you can choose your own language for that statement ❤️.

And if you have the ability to thank a teacher do so. Because there is a really good chance they want to thank you too.

With love,

Miss Teacher Meghan Meg Sox

washington whimsy

to my 2 year olds; with love, teacher meg

I have a mere five days left as the lead teacher to 16 two year olds. I’ll be taking six of them to continue the journey in preschool. But, man, two year olds. They are all the things. And I’ve loved them.

So though they will probably never read this, this is a letter to them.
To my sweet, sassy, snuggly, silly and never really that silent, two year olds:

For your last year as two year olds, you have been my life. I have changed your diapers, helped you go potty, fed you, been peed on, pooped on and bled on, I have talked you through tantrums and sadness, I have helped you go to sleep, I’ve helped you explore and learn and laugh. I’ve been hit, kick, punched, slapped and spit on by you. I’ve grown tired of you screaming my name and missed you when you are gone.

I know A LOT about each of you. I know what your body looks like when you are tired, hungry, sick. I know your real laugh from your fake laugh, I know what holds your attention or what doesn’t. I know what friends you like and those with whom your body needs space. I know that your Monday attitude is different than your Thursday attitude and I know that even though you don’t want me to leave at three, that means it’s sooner for your moms and dads to come.

I see a lot in each of you. One of you is going to be someone who celebrates people well, another is going to use her inevitable popularity to show kindness to those who need it. I believe in this group of tiny humans lies an engineer, a musician and a veterinarian. I see an activist; one my most stubborn, using their skills for good. I see teachers and professors. I see some epic storytellers and writers and creators.

I see that each of you have the ability to change the world around you.

I think, I hope, that in the last year (or two) that you’ve been with me that you’ve learned a few things. One, is to be kind. When you hit, bite, steal a friend’s toy, I hope you’ve learned compassion from me (though you can’t fully comprehend it). I hope that you’ve learned to hope and dream. That you’ve picked that up in your tiny human bodies. 

I hope you’ve learned from me that you are born to be loved. 

Because you are. And so many people love you. You each have a village of moms and dads and teachers and grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles and neighbors and friends that love you. 

I hope you’ve learned from me to show up for your life no matter what. I hope you become adults who choose to do the damn thing. Who choose to be present and not perfect. 

Who choose to live.

And I hope (albeit maybe NOT in such a dramatic fashion) that you continue to learn to be humans who express their emotions. 

Because of all the things I’ve hope you’ve learned from me; this is what I’ve learned from you. I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt when you are feeling: happy, tired, silly, frustrated, sad, mad. You might not know all the verbiage but you express the emotions.

See, as adults, we lack the ability, most of the time, to do that. To put it in your terms: we don’t give our bodies space.

Thank you, for being constant reminders to do that. Thank you for being reminders to let myself feel. Thank you for the practice of labeling your emotions, so that I in turn label my own. I’ll never forget when one of you, upon me asking a rhetorical question of, “who do I need to take care of?”, responded with a singularly word, “you”.

Thank you for helping me pause. For in MY moments of frustration, squeezing my cheeks or giggling, or offering me ice coffee. Thank you for teaching me to breathe. 

And lastly, but in no way least: thank you for being safe with me. For running to me with open arms, for reaching out to me when you were tired or sad or scared. For wanting to hold my hands when we danced. 

Thank you for allowing me to apart of your year of two. I can’t wait to see what I will learn from you next.

With love,

Teacher Meg

Honest, washington whimsy

To the tiny human makers

To the tiny human makers,

My work wife and I had a rough week(s) and we were talking about so many things and being frustrated and lots of other toddler teacher life issues. And at the end of the conversation it boiled down to this.

We (I) love your tiny human.

I’ve held a lot of jobs in the tiny human field over the past 10 years. I’ve been: a Sunday school teacher, day camp counselor, camp counselor, preschool teacher, preschool coordinator for a church, toddler care coordinator for a non-profit, bible story lady, babysitter, VBS coordinator, “the kid person” on mission trips. I’ve written curriculum for programs and laughed and cried with babies to high schoolers on five continents. I’ve been “miss Meghan” “miss Meg” “Maggie” “MEG” and “Sox” or  “Junapera”. And now, of course, for the last 15 months or so I’ve been “Teacher Meg” (or TEACHER MEEEEEEEGGGG) adding lead toddler teacher to my list of tiny human jobs.

I have the faces of hundreds of kids run through my mind of different nationalities, ages, fatherless, motherless, homeless, dual job families, families with stay at home moms, or Grandma’s.

I will not know where a majority end up in life, but every one of them are etched on my heart.

I currently work at a year-round full time early learning center. I have kids that I see 35-40 hrs a week. And above everything, all the things I need to do for them, my goal in each and everyday is to let them know they are loved.

I spend my day having little conversations here and there about mom and dad and grandma and grandpa and siblings.

Because I know how much you love your tiny human. I see it on your face at drop-off and pick-up, when you tell me how they slept or ask me the same. I see it when you get excited for Friday and spending time with them. Or when you tell me about their first steps or a new word they said.

So, during the day, while you are at work, I want you to know that I LOVE your tiny human. I’ll hold them when they are sad, make them laugh, I’ll help them get a nap. I’ll make sure they learn how to throw their food in the trash and not on the floor. And if they bite a friend I will give them words to say. (Same goes for tantrums, don’t worry, those don’t fly with teacher Meg).

And I don’t necessarily do all those things because it’s my job–I mean it is my job, but I do them because I love your tiny human. When they cry, real tears streaming down their cheeks, I hurt. When they finally do the thing, I get so excited for them (I’ve never been so excited about peeing in the potty in my life). When they laugh and say “I love you teacher Meg”, I melt.

I will love your tiny human, knowing that my presence in their life is a passing moment.

But they will forever be a tiny (or maybe medium-sized) human in my life.

Some of these kiddos I knew for a day, or a few weeks or maybe years. And as I said, I don’t know what happened to most of them, or where they are at now. Like the little girl in my JK class who I worked with on letters and numbers one day a week for four months at her house after school. Or the little boy at day camp that we called ninja and all fell in love with. Or Nay in Cambodia, the girls at the academy in South Africa, or any and every smiling face I met at royal family.

I’m grateful for social media and the ability to watch some of these kids grow up. Like I know that when he graduates high school I will be there to watch Nicky B walk (or probably do the robot or something amazing) across the stage and I’ll drink a glass of wine with his mom Rachel because she was and is one of my mom role models. I’ll be amazed for every year older Eric and Cathy’s boys get and be thankful for every moment on their couches. And I will treasure every smile of that tribe of kids from Rock Harbor that were in my three day class together. And of course, a certain then five year old boy who would say “hey good lookin'” to me (he’ll be president some day). Not to mention the all grown up day campers who are off to college.

I’ll support those kids from afar in their adventures like their families supported me. I’ll cheer them on every chance I get. Even when they don’t remember that I was their teacher or their counselor or that crazy lady with the Afro.

I will always love those tiny humans.

I don’t know how long I will be in the tiny human game, or if I will have tiny humans of my own, but for now, each day I will love your tiny human with my whole heart. I will impart to them words of kindness and life and thankfulness. I will encourage them to do good and make choices that honor who they are.

And a note to the families of the tiny humans that aren’t so tiny anymore: know that I still love your kids and you with so much in me. I get so excited hearing of the accomplishments and victories in their lives. I’m grateful to have been a small part of your lives and know that you were/are a big part of mine.

And know this, if your child is in daycare, or preschool know and have the knowledge that they are loved a lot.

With love always,

Meg