Miss Night's Marbles

Musings, mumbles, marvels, and sometimes mockery, live from kindergarten.

This business of caring: it makes me righteous, yes it makes me feel whole*

on 3 August, 2012

Yes, I am woefully behind on the summer #kinderblog2012 challenge, and am sort of strangely pleased that my behind-ness on one challenge will now likely help me fulfill another challenge…

But first, the question, for the 3rd week of #kinderblog2012:

Tell us about your pet peeves. Do it however you want: write a list of 50 things that drive you crazy, or an essay about just one thing, or story combining several things, or write a song, or some limericks, or an epic poem. A photo essay! A slideshow! Video journalism! Stand up comedy! The sky is the limit, just tell us what grinds your teeth as a teacher (or an administrator, or a program director, or in whatever capacity you are joining this challenge.) (Yeah, parentheses again. I think I need an intervention.) Be careful: your blog is public, and you never know who is reading. Be positive and professional, but tell the truth. You can do it.

If you go through the comments on the original posting of the question, you’ll see people did some pretty awesome things – making comic strips, writing songs. But me, I blog because I like to write. Words have long been my dear friends and most favourite tool. So here you go. One of my single biggest pet peeves and professional aggravations: 

It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard for me when I hear the words “I am not a babysitter” or “This is not a daycare” when uttered by a kindergarten teacher. Says who? If you are responsible for the safety and supervision of your students (which, um, YOU ARE), and your students are not old enough to be left alone without adult supervision (which, um, THEY’RE NOT), guess what: you are a childcare provider.

This expression tends to come up when teachers are irritated with parents, often over the most trivial of things: having to peel a child’s orange, helping with a change of clothing after a toileting accident, being asked to store a car seat because the child is going home in a different vehicle. The underlying belief seems to be that we “shouldn’t have to” do these things. Parents should pack snacks that kids can open independently. Kindergartners should be long past toileting accidents.  Parents should have… two car seats?… really?

I’m not sure where it comes from, this need to separate teachers from babysitters/daycare providers/caregivers/nannies. Yes, I lumped all of those things together because, whatever your preferred vocabulary, anyone who makes a living in a context that makes them responsible for other people’s children is ALL of those things. We are IN THE BUSINESS OF CARING FOR CHILDREN, folks. To say that we are not caregivers suggests that caring is not part of our job. There is no way around it. I’m honestly not sure where the line is between “caring for” and “teaching,” but for the love of all that is good in the world, I certainly hope that we are doing both.

And honestly, if I had to choose? Between being acknowledged for the “teaching” or being acknowledged for the “caring?” Between kids remembering the things I taught them or the way I cared for them?

The caring wins every time.

Photo by AJC1

*Van Morrison, as sung by my boyfriend, Michael Buble

2 Responses to “This business of caring: it makes me righteous, yes it makes me feel whole*”

  1. Well said! As parents and as teachers, we wear many hats. Parents play the role of teachers and teachers can play the role of parents. Even as a middle school teacher, I consider myself a child(preteen?/teen?) care provider. My job encompasses a lot more than teaching the content.

  2. Meg says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I see no difference in what I do as a nanny or as a 3 & 4 year old daycare provider or as a teacher. At the end of the day we are all responsible for the whole child; their cognitive learning, their social emotional learning, their safety and comfort, and yes, daily needs like toileting. Thank you for this post.

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