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Discussion Starter #1
Warning: this is looooooooooooong.

I'm an early childhood educator (fancy and formal way of saying preschool teacher), and that is what I have been most of my career. I decided to get my master's degree and transition from working the floor to working in child focused research or policy. Last August I successfully defended my thesis, but graduate school emptied my bank account. My roommate was working in a before and after school program and knew they were hiring. She set up an interview for me, and I was quickly hired (men are rare in my field, and the director really wanted a guy working in her centre.)

I have the largest school aged classroom with 25 kids from grades 3 through 6. In Ontario the law states you need to have 1 staff member for every 15 kids. I should have a teaching partner. I don't. She quit in February when a better job offer came long. My director never replaced her. Since March I have had a different supply staff every single day. None of them have actually graduated from college or university (all are ECE students), and the director said she wants me to train them. So I have been. Which means I look after 25 kids on my own, plus babysit a college student every day. Most of them are too nervous to interact with my students since some of my boys are actually taller than they are (all of our supply staff are for some reason young women of Chinese background). These supply staff students get a long of work because we have had 4 full staff members quit, but the director won't hire new people to replace them. We just have a constant swirl of supply staff around. Out of the 7 full time staff who began the year, only 2 of us remain.

It wasn't the greatest job in the world, wasn't making all that much money, I was really over qualified, but I've done before and after school aged care before and had a blast doing it. My plan was to be there for 6 to 12 months, enough to stabilize myself, and move on to work that would put my higher degree to work. That was the plan until this past Wednesday.

On Wednesday we had what is called a 'serious occurrence'. As we were moving the group from outside (where we meet them after school) to inside the school, we lost a child. Normally I go up last and do a head count as we are climbing the stairs, but just this once I went up first in order to stop the kids from diving head first into the gummy bears I had on the desk upstairs. Instead I went up first and the supply staff (who had been in my room 1 time a few months ago) came up behind. Here is where I made my mistake. I forgot to tell her specifically took watch for one specific girl. She has autism, and has a habit of wandering away. Since I didn't instruct the supply to do an additional head count going up the stairs, the girl got left outside. Once everyone was upstairs I knew immediately someone was missing. I searched the classroom, the washroom, and the stairwells. When going outside to look for her I ran into the director coming up the stairs with the child. She said another teacher had brought her in from outside. The child was missing for approximately 5 minutes.

Now there is an inquiry into my behaviour. I have been formally disciplined. The school, parents, city, and province were all notified because this technically counted as a lost child. A full report of what happened, including my name and position, are posted in the school for the next 10 days. Some of our policies are about to change because of what I've done. One bad decision has messed everything up.

I fully owned up to my fault. I was the teacher on duty, a child got left outside on my watch, it is my responsibility. I'm the one at fault.

However.... I don't think should have been put into a position like this. I don't think my director should have me working by my self with the random supply staff of the day and over half of all of the kids in the daycare (there is a grade 1 room with 11 kids, a grade 2 room with 14 kids, and 25 grade 3-6s with me) because she doesn't want to hire a replacement. Since my teaching partner left behaviour has gone through the room, we've had bullying and exclusion problems, and it has gotten bad enough that one parent has actually physically threatened me when he accused me of 'emotionally abusing' his daughter (which he did right in front of management to no consequence).

This easy low stress job has been slowly building to the high stress monster it is now. I really care for most of the kids and families and don't want to leave them... but I don't know if I can take it anymore. After what has happened now, and the coming inquiry, I don't even want to be there. I have been job hunting for something after June (my originally planned exit date) but now I'm wanting to give my 2 weeks notice (or less) and run. I have enough set aside I can handle a few months pay free.

What would you do? Suck it up for the last 2 months and stay? Cut and run now? Crawl into a hole and die?
 

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From reading all of this. That's BS that you're being "disciplined."

You should not have been put into a position like that. You shouldn't have to be training a different College student literally every day. You're basically taking care of an extra person when you already have 30 to keep track of.. The College student is derpy, if you ask me. They should've already taken it upon themselves to keep track of the kids.. Isn't that common sense?

I don't know, dude.

I'd cut and run...
 

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As a male school teacher, I know the unique struggles you're experiencing.

The education field DOES place too many demands on us. There's no getting around that. I've been teaching for 20 years and I want to leave the profession. Why? Not because of the children, (who invite me to their weddings!), but because of the red tape crap you're dealing with.

The law states you're supposed to have one teacher per 15 students. They are breaking the law. It's plain and simple.

I won't give you advice on what you should do. If it were me, I'd give my resignation but not before telling the director how disappointed that you've been put in a very bad position for so long (being the only credentialed teacher, clearly going against Ontario law). I would be inclined to do this via a written letter. If you're very concerned for the children's welfare (with undersupervised conditions), then you might be inclined to report them. But that's something you have to decide for yourself.

Best of luck!
 

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This really struck a chord with me since I had a similar incident happen. I worked as a preschool teacher and we had the worst staff turnover; pretty much people quitting faster than they could be replaced. I worked open to close pretty much every day with no lunch for the last month I was there and during nap time they would cram 40 kids into my room and expect me to get them all down for a nap. At that time we had a boy with very bad discipline problems which included aggression and running attempts. One of those days at nap time, he decided he wanted to hit the boy laying next to him and when I attempted to get him to stop he kicked me in the shin and ran for the door. The doors only open from the inside and while the yard was fenced, a staircase to another room pretty much ended with a drop off over the fence...and that's exactly where he was headed. I had to grab this boy with his arms pinned to his side while he flailed and kicked me and there was no way for me to get back inside...meanwhile, I had 39 other kids alone in a room. I got in trouble for leaving the room. Needless to say, I quit soon after that when my manager refused to remove her ass from her desk and come help me.

If I remember correctly, support staff like the students you work with do not count towards that teacher student ratio and if there is any sort of formal investigation you really should bring that up. It's incredibly frustrating trying to give these kids the best care possible when the business you work for is not willing to help even by following their own policies. My heart goes out to you and I hope that this all passes smoothly for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Just an update: I gave my 2 weeks. I'm resigning my position. In good time, too, since it sounds like they are getting ready to throw me under the bus for something completely unrelated to what happened. I guess it's pretty easy to pin everything on the guy who is leaving.
 

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When I was observing at a middle school we encountered a similar problem, the school went through a new art teacher every year or two. From the sound of it, you're better off getting out of there, if they don't toss you for this they will find another reason. I don't know what it is with some of these places, I guess the higher ups don't really understand that children are some of the most unpredictable animals in the world and even the greatest teachers will have trouble.

But at least you've never been stabbed by a kid (same middle school, and I was blamed for being stabbed in the leg because I didn't "handle the situation correctly")
 

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Wow. Sorry to hear about this. I teach too. I teach art (1st - 12th grade) at a private school and this is my 8th year.

I would, even though you are leaving, notify them in writing about your concerns. Also let them know that you will be notifying whoever is the governing authority in your area about those concerns as well. Not necessarily a threat, but you need to document your working conditions so that if they do "throw you under the bus", you'll have your side noted for future job prospects.

Child care and education are some of the most stressful jobs out there and often come with little reward (in terms of pay) and heavy responsibilities. I am lucky that I haven't had anything as dramatic as your scenerio happen to me yet, but I did have a student slice their finger open while we were wood carving.. Of course, she wasn't paying attention and of course, she was holding and carving in the exact way I told them NOT to.. in that situation, I was lucky that it happened to a good kid and one that has descent parents. With some of our other families, I'm sure there'd have been **** to pay.

Good luck in your job search.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Glad to see I'm not the only person who has experienced the wrong end of the educational stick. Just an update.

For giving my 2 weeks, and for submitting a letter about my concerns with the centre and the ration numbers (just as you suggested I do there, Artgecko), I was pulled aside after everyone else left the centre last Friday, told I was fired (terminated without cause), and they would instead pay me out my last week I should be there rather than give me notice of my termination. They made me right there and then go upstairs and remove all of my things from the classrooms. The worst part is that they said I couldn't come back to say goodbye to the kids.

Jokes on them, there is a public sidewalk right because the playground, and they can't say boo about me being on public property.
 

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what kind of person ever fires someone for being concerened about the kids. some people are just idiots:p
 

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Wow. You did the right thing at least... not that that is much of a consolation now. If you know who is over center licensing and supervision in your county / province, I'd notify them in writing of the situation and that you were immediately fired when you told the center of your concerns. It may help to send them a copy of the letter you gave the center along with what you write them. I would make it VERY plain when you do notify them that you are not trying to get your job back, etc. but that you want them made aware of your concerns because of child safety. It could do some good in the long run... They will at least look into it because the last thing they need (publicity wise) is for something to happen at that center and it be brought to light that they knew about it all along.

I am truely sorry about how this has worked out for you. Maybe look for a posting at a university or similar situation more along the lines of what you want to do. The college I went to had a daycare on site for faculty / staff, but it also served local kids with speech impediments. They used this as sort of an on-site "lab" for speech path students at the university. Either that, or something with older kids in public education.

I work at a private school, and although we have our own bag of issues (bad admins, weird unnecessary stuff, dealing with "entitled" parents, etc.) it is not nearly as bad as what teachers in the public system have to endure (red tape, weir policies, bad admin and political stuff).

A couple points my professors in grad school always told me: Document everything and join your local teacher's union / representative group. The former protects you and the latter can also protect you if stuff should go wrong. Many of these groups cover legal expenses should you be sued.

Again, very sorry this is happening to you. All too often teaching is a thankless job and the first thing people do is jump on the teacher if something should go wrong.
 

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Wow, yeah I second artgecko.

Sorry to hear that you got fired. Even when you intend to leave, getting fired is like a slap in the face.
 
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