Sunday, February 03, 2008

There's assistance and then there's that.

Assalamu alaikum,

Yes, I'm blogging in front of the Super Bowl. I'm on my sister's computer and she's TiVo'd it, so we re-watch the good commercials and kinda zone out on the rest. I'm taking the opportunity to do some blogging. So what?

Besides, the Patriots always win, it's nearly as sickening as those Yankees a couple years ago.

I had a really interesting conversation with "my assistant", the other teacher in my room half a day. I've had some real issues with her attitude, not least because I was given to understand that she was there in part so that I could rely on her greater experience in the early childhood education arena.

Because, while I do believe (alhamdulIllah) I'm capable of teaching children this young, there are things about teaching them that I just don't know, not having experience nor training in ECE and not having had children this age myself. And then when I came, and asked for her help in certain things, I got a lot of pushback from her, outright... insolence, I guess.

What really chapped my buns was that ultimately, I feel that the kids in the room are the ones who pay with an inferior level of education. Then, she was transferred to KG for half a day in the afternoon. While that brought relief on the one hand (no one judging me in my own classroom, refusing to take initiative yet making suggestions after the fact as to how I'm doing things incorrectly), it also upset me that she felt better in the KG room without at least trying to express any problems she had outright. I do NOT tolerate gossipping in the workplace, so I kept that to my family and confidants, but that whole situation wasn't (and isn't , but we've cleared the air... I'm getting there) helping my mental status.

Then I picked up some guts and finally just asked her to work with the older kids in group time with their literacy. I've been trying to do that, especially as some of the older ones can read and need more instruction. I pulled them out 3 times a week, but I know that she had done that sort of thing before. She let me know something that shocked me and made me understand her attitude: she makes less than $16,000 a year. And she does so simply because she doesn't have a bachelor's degree. SHe works the same hours I do, has 5 years of experience in pre-school, but is making less than half what starting teachers are offered.

No wonder.

So, I let her know that I needed her expertise. And further, the kids needed it. I understood, finally, why she had acted the way she did, but I'd gladly take on some things that she had been doing, if she'd apply her great innovative ideas to the older reading group. I said that I needed to be able to watch her, because while it was inspiring to hear her say that they needed to do more manipulative activities and less paperwork, being that all my experience and training is with adults and children at least 9 years old, the ideas are slow coming and hard to put into place. And I told her that I absolutely agree that her pay level is unjust.

It's getting better. I hope. I mean, I still sense that attitude and am much quicker to come out of my mouth and ask her if she's angry about something, but she's working with the kids, and has sent a letter to the parents saying as much, and I'm looking at what she does and learning from her activity. *sigh*.

It makes me realize a couple of things, one being that although I am competent to look after and teach pre-schoolers, it's not where I'm most involved and passionate. That's in part why I've taken so many tutoring spots; it cuts my time, but I LOVE teaching students that age, really showing my passion for learning. Plus, it's easier to help them fully understand what their teachers set them, stretch their minds, and think beyond where they are.
Pre-school- that's possible, especially when we can go outdoors and explore, or plant seeds, or just wonder at the creation of Allah, but it's a whole lot harder for me to wrap my head around indoors. And I have no- ZERO- prep time scheduled into my day, which I finally understand is just flat unfair. Bad enough I'm just now getting to pray dhuhr thanks to an awesome sister who's student-teaching and watches my people for 10 minutes. She's been a godsend, really. Worse that I see that creative materials are needed and that I have to create them- or have time to tell someone else how to create them- and I have to do that on my own scant time. The only non-scheduled time I have during the school day is lunch, for 45 minutes. I'm still training for the marathon and I don't want to give it up for less than life-changing reasons. I tutor and I go to halaqas, I go to the gym and then I go home- when I deviate from that I do things like nearly break my wrist and then have sucky weeks.

Something has to give, and until now the kids haven't been getting the education that I know they could get. I don't think that their education is inadequate, nor is their care. But I've always been one to want to be the absolute best at what I do. To not do so for whatever reason just bothers the mess out of me. It's probably half of my issues now.

Man, where did my positive blog posts go?



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