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.