Questions for teachers in public schools

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by Miss J. Pre-K, Sep 5, 2009.

  1. Miss J. Pre-K

    Miss J. Pre-K Comrade

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    Sep 5, 2009

    I'm a pre-k teacher in a public school. Mostly, I've loving it, but I'm having some issues because it's a brand new program in the school. It's my first year in public school, I taught 6 months last year in a Head Start. My biggest issues are about curriculum, ratios, and getting told about things (they sometimes assume I just know what all the alphabet soup acronyms are).

    Ratio: For instance, they have asked that money for our fundraiser be brought to the office 3 mornings a week. Well, due to ratio, my assistant and I can't be out of the room. The secretary calls my room to ask if I can take a phone call. Nope, not unless you come down to cover. When we go to the playground, we're supposed to stop by the office each day to get a walkie-talkie and a key to the building to get back in. I've asked if I could not just be given a key and walkie-talkie, as we would have to drag the whole class up to the office every day. I was told no.

    Curriculum: My kids need a long center time. They will get a bit noisy, as they are playing. My principal has asked me to close our door when we are doing circle or centers. Okay, fine, I'll compromise. But then this week they decided to do hearing screenings next door in the art room. I'm sorry, no, I can't keep my children quiet all day long, nor do I think it's reasonable to ask.

    Acronyms: What the heck is all this stuff? CARE teams, how we go about getting assessments done for special education/speech, CUM folders, teacher evaluations, etc. I have a kindergarten teacher mentor, but she has small kids, and the only time I could see her is after-school, when she's occupied with her kids. Should I just go in and say that I need some help?

    Finally, loneliness: I know everyone is busy, it's the beginning of school, we hardly ever get out of our room. My assistant is nice, but she's more my mom's age than mine. I'd like to connect with some of the younger teachers, but how? We went out to lunch together during workdays and they seem nice, but I haven't really seen them since. We are required to eat meals in our room.

    I know I wrote a book, sorry, but any suggestions?
     
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  3. ahodge79

    ahodge79 Companion

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    Sep 5, 2009

    hi there.... I'm not currently working, but have taught 5 years in public schools. That first year is pretty tricky with all those terms! In a year or two you'll be talking to teachers and other people won't know what you're talking about! :)

    CUM folder is short for "cumulative folder" which is the offical folder on each child (kept in the office) with test scores and notes. You should get to know about the special ed process and IEP (Individual Education Plan) process in case you need to refer kids from your class (even for speech).

    I do agree with the principal to keep the door closed, the other kids hear all the fun and it's distracting.

    hummm... is there anyway that you could just check out a key in the morning? You don't think that for a few minutes it'd be okay for the assistant to do get it or do errands? I mean I taught kinder and the assistant wasn't in the room all the time.

    I'd be nice if you could find other teachers like you in the area... it's important to build community, share woes/successes, and to get ideas.
     
  4. reverie

    reverie Companion

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    Sep 5, 2009

    I think it was poor planning on their part to do hearing screenings next to a preschool room. PreK kids are not going to be silent all day.

    As far as connecting with the other teachers, maybe you could set up a day after school to go out for dinner or apps. Or if there's something you are all interested in (a sporting event, concert, scrapbooking) maybe you could set something like that up. I'd slip a note in their mailboxes if you don't see them or try to pop in their rooms before/after school.

    It's hard being prek I think, especially because the older grades could ask a "helper" student to go get the walkie talkie from the office and bring it to you. Sorry I couldn't be of more help here.
     
  5. tiffharmon2001

    tiffharmon2001 Comrade

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    Sep 5, 2009

    In my school, there are times when we definitely aren't "in ratio" because my assistant or I have to be out of the room for one thing or another (our lunch breaks, taking sick children to the office). In public school, the ratio thing isn't as strict as in head start/daycare settings. I would just have the assistant make an office run right before time to go outside. I do occasionally have to step out for a phone call, but generally I ask that they take a message and I call the person back later.

    Do you have a child in your class who is responsible enough to walk up to the office and back to take the fund raiser money. Maybe a teacher's child-they are usually pretty familiar with the building.

    I would DEFINITELY go to your mentor and ask for help. That's why she's there. In our state, mentors are given a stipend, so she should be earning it. My kids are in my room after school as well, but they know that I am still at work and may have to take care of some things while they entertain themselves.

    The first year is the hardest. Things will get better. In the meantime, don't be afraid to ask for help.
     
  6. PrekCAteacher

    PrekCAteacher Rookie

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    Sep 5, 2009

    I would have to agree with some of the others. The planning for this new program wasn't well thought out.

    As far as ratio I would tell you to be careful because the second you break it is when a problem happens or Lincesing will walk in. I am not sure what state you are in but in Ca breaking ratio is the number one no no.

    Due to the fact that the kids in pre-k have centers and music they need to be aware that the room will be noisy. Closing the door is reasonable, but maybe they could hold activities needing quiet in the library?

    Talk to your mentor, but if you are looking for peer help are there other public school prek tachers in your district I have found that a teacher at another site that is in the same program as me has been so helpful.
    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2009
  7. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Sep 5, 2009

    If you have ratio regulations, your P and the secretary should be very aware of that fact. It is up to them to support the regulations. Maybe check with them to make sure all understand the ratios.
     
  8. Miss J. Pre-K

    Miss J. Pre-K Comrade

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    Sep 6, 2009

    Thanks AtoZers! I agree, I think this program and it's needs and limitations wasn't well thought out by the administration. Don't even get me started on car-line pick-up :whistle: . . .

    I just had an idea. There was another new pre-k teacher in a school close to mine that I talked with at orientation. I'm going to email her this week and see if she wants to start setting up a regular meeting . . . out to coffee, dinner, or just meeting in each other's rooms after school. Maybe I can come up with something to hang out with the other teachers at my school as well.

    I'm not about the break ratio unless it's an emergency, but I do wish the admin was more conscious of it. Almost every week so far, I'm asked to do something I can't do because of ratio. They've been understanding, but still, it's frustrating. And to people who asked about having my assistant run errands or a child pick up the keys . . . um no. I have two supervisors who love to just "pop in", and as a first year, I'm not going to be caught breaking ratio. I was told ratios change at naptime, and when children are sleeping is the only time one of us can leave the room.

    I know what CUM folders are . . . just not how to fill them out. I'm well aware of IEPS because I've actually co-written them before, but getting someone to come evaluate is the issue. I guess I'll have to track down my mentor.

    I'm still thinking about the key/walkie-talkie issue, so if anyone has suggestions on that?
     
  9. maebowler

    maebowler Comrade

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    Sep 6, 2009

    Is there anyway that you or your assistant could go to the office with a child or two to get the key/walkie-talkie that would make you close to ratio? Or could you get a key in the morning before school starts and return it at lunch or the end of the day? As far as a walkie-talkie, could you do the same thing as the key or just bring your cell phone and give the secretary your cell number? Just some thoughts. Good luck!
     
  10. vannapk

    vannapk Groupie

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    Sep 7, 2009

    I'm sorry you're having these issues Miss J. It can be hard to be pre-k in a regular elementary school. I taught Head Start in a public elementary school once and it was the exact same type of situation you are experiencing. I can assure you that the issues you are experiencing are normal for a public school. In TX we don't have ratios in our public school pre-k program (sad but true). If you do have to follow a ratio law I would set up a meeting with the principal to explain the reasons why you can't be asked to leave the classroom during the school day while children are in the classroom. If you have something in writing you could show him or her that would be the best way to go, also ask him or her to share this info with the front office staff. It could be that the admin has never had any experience with this type of situation before so you can't expect them to know the laws of your program.

    I've also experienced the problem with being asked to be quiet, it's common with pre-k's in a public school. They are simply not used to children "playing" (that's what they think it is, we know they're really learning) in the classroom and they constantly ask for more quiet. Again, it's up to you to explain to admin how your program works and why you have to allow a certain number of minutes of center time. If you're asked to do something by your agency or program and you are asked not to do the same thing by your school then you have a problem that needs to be addressed. Again, I would schedule a meeting with the principal to discuss the issue or you will just continue to be frustrated all year.

    Having pre-k in a public school is always a challenge the first year, I've helped both teachers and principals work through the various issues. Once everybody is on the same page things go much more smoothly.

    I think your idea of getting together with the other new pre-k teacher is a fabulous one, let us know how it goes.
     
  11. cityfrog6

    cityfrog6 Comrade

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    Sep 7, 2009

     
  12. Dzenna

    Dzenna Groupie

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    Sep 7, 2009

    MissJ- I had the same problem with my P when I started my Pre-K in a K-8 Catholic school. Many Ps have no knowledge of early childhood education. When my P gave me my first review, she suggested more whole group activities, less small groups or centers. :lol: I said nothing. Then, the P had me meet with the Kinder teachers so they could to tell me how to teach: lots of worksheets :lol: I said nothing. I had to "suck it up" for the first year. Just as the other posters said, it will get better. Be patient and slowly and humbly educate your P. After a few years, your P will trust and rely on you for early childhood education and licensing guidelines and the Kinder teachers will also respect you.

    Regarding your specific problems. I like a lot of the solutions given by other posters. Have your aide walk to the office and drop off the money with the minimal number of children needed to keep you in ratio. Rotate the children that she takes. Make it a learning experience. Look at the weather, clouds, etc. Why not walk the class over to the office to pick up the key before you go to the playground? The aide can stay just outside the door and you can pop in and get the key.

    My classroom is isolated from the rest of the school and due to my schedule I never am in the teacher's lounge. I understand the loneliness factor. Do you attend staff meetings with the rest of the school? I sit with the same teachers at those meetings or ask about carpooling with them if we have an off-site training. This summer we walked together a couple times. I will also visit and chat with them after school. You are always going to be isolated, so you'll have to go the extra mile to socialize.
     
  13. shellie1619

    shellie1619 Rookie

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    Sep 7, 2009

    I have to agree with the isolation aspect. After spending the entire day with children, all I want is adult conversation. In the day care I will go to the other classrooms just to say hi to the other teachers when I am off the clock if I have time in my day. The adults in the room can relate to why I am there and understand my 'gripes' for the day.

    But I have also have to agree that you have to stick to your guns because if you slip once, it will be expected that you will do it again.
     

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