Supervision. Cleaning. Teacher-Student Relationship. Curriculum.
Did you take notice to the order of the list above? The list goes from most important in the classroom right now to least. This is the new normal.
For those who don't know me (which I would assume is most if not everyone reading this), I have been working in early childhood education for the past three years. I started as solely a Pre-K teacher, then became the Curriculum Coordinator at my early learning center two years ago. Let me tell you, this school has been like no other. I have talked with teachers who have been in the education arena for longer than I have (which is actually hard in the early childhood education field), and they even said the same thing. It's new. It's different. It's the new normal.
I tried thinking of how my classroom, my center was before this whole thing started. I make a wish to be in my classroom, with my students, working alongside each teacher that have became family to me, but it doesn't work like that does it. Maybe if I close me eyes...nope. Maybe if I make that 11:11 wish (yea, remember that?)....still nothing. I look around my center to empty classrooms. The feel is a mixture of eerie and sad. I would do anything to go back. And guess what? It has only been a few months of this, and yet, I already want to stop living in reality and go back to the old normal. Back to those school days where I had too many hats on (teachers know what I mean) and couldn't seem to have a second to take a breath...or use the bathroom. As much as I wish it, things will never be that way...again. I will never be able to see those students in that same setting for that same school year. I can feel a piece of my heart break as I am writing this. However, as the saying goes, "You got to put your big girl pants on!" I have to push forward. I need to do this, for myself, but also for those kids.
Let me paint you a picture of the new normal...
This is the most important thing. Now if you don't work in early childhood, you may not fully understand the importance of supervision. Maybe you didn't even know that there are schools out there that hold this to the standard that it should be. Well, it is a whole different story in Early Childhood. We need to meet ratios and state regulations. We need to know where each child is at all times. We need to have cards with the child's face, name, parent names, emergency contact, and any known allergies at ALL TIMES. It is a different arena compared to other areas in education. This being the most important thing is understandable and I agree with this wholeheartedly. Young children need to be safe and comfortable in order for any learning to take place.
Now this is where everything changes! Now, I say everything, but that does not mean we were not cleaning our classrooms or the facility before. We have DHS (Department of Health & Services) regulations that we had to meet before. We had a daily schedule to adhere to during the school week. However, imagine a daily cleaning schedule, a schedule that you did ALL DAY long and condense that to a two-hour time frame. Let me explain better...the cleaning, sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, disinfecting that we did throughout the school day now NEEDS to be done EVERY two hours. So between 7am-9am...the entire cleaning checklist. Between 10am-12pm...the entire cleaning checklist. Between 1pm-3pm...well you get the idea.
This is where the new normal kicks in. Teachers need to adjust their schedule, routine, and even focus from teaching to cleaning until this new schedule is the normal.
3. Teacher-Student Relationships
To me...this should be right under Supervision. Teachers cannot teach, students won't learn unless there is a trust, a positive environment, and a respect. I have witnessed how a horrible classroom environment along with a teacher that does not care about her students affect the learning (or lack of learning) that takes place. Students will want to learn when they are comfortable, feel safe, and know that their teacher loves and genuinely cares for them and their future.
But instead, we need to focus on...cleaning. CLEANING. I am just going to let that sink in. According to the new regulations, Cleaning > Teacher-Student Relationships
Now, I am not saying that a teacher should not clean at all, but that our focus needs to shift and puts cleaning before the relationships in the classroom really angers me.
Now, like I stated earlier, I am the Curriculum Coordinator at my early learning center. This means that my entire job is focused on teaching curriculum to teachers, conducting observations, assessing student behavior and classroom effectiveness, and going to meetings to discuss curriculum. My entire life is revolved around curriculum! The fact that it is now at the bottom of the list....BOTTOM...is just heartbreaking. Not only are some students behind due to schools closing, but now the actual teaching part of the school day is put on the back burner due to the new cleaning regulations placed on schools.
I'm going to say it..."I can't even!"
For those that are teachers, I understand your frustration. For those that are not teachers, this is the new normal that your child and your child's teacher will be placed in.
However, I have to look at the positive. I need to see that children will still be safe at school. And honestly the biggest blessing...schools WILL BE OPEN! I will take this new normal just for that reason.
A Strong Independent Teacher