Wednesday, May 12, 2010

drama with the 3 year old crowd

I can't believe I forgot to tell you what happened when we got back from California! I had to pull Gabe out of the CRAZY PRESCHOOL. I know. Summer started veeeerrrrryyy early in the Halloweenlover household, and it hasn't been pretty.

I'm sure you remember the preschool drama, but for those of you who missed it, you can catch up here.

The continuation is that the day I was flying home from California, when Gabe was supposed to be back at school 2 days later, I get a message on my cell phone letting me know BOTH of Gabe's teachers quit while we were gone. One just up and quit and never showed up again at work, and the other claims she got a full-time job and they needed her to start asap. With 6 weeks left of the school year, and no notice. So the director was left to find two substitutes for Gabe's classroom with, ohhh, 3 days of notice.

I called the teacher back, listened to her long-winded, totally unclear explanation, and then called the director to get more details. In the meantime, Josh and I start talking about what to do. I wasn't fully comfortable sending Gabe into a classroom with two substitutes that were found at the last minute and no supervision from the director or the other 20+ years experience teacher. Josh assured me, though, the two substitutes couldn't possibly be left alone with the ten children given the circumstances.

Oh wait, did I mention this would be Gabe's FIFTH and SIXTH new teachers of the year? We have had multiple teachers quit since he started in September.

Anyway, I called the director back on Monday morning to get the scoop before Gabe was supposed to be in at 9am. She exploded on the phone at me, ranting about the teachers and how unprofessional they'd been (agreed) and how it made her look bad (agreed) and how everyone was going to think she'd fired them (um, no that isn't precisely what it make me think) and how ridiculous the whole situation was (agreed). She went on and on about what the teachers quitting was doing to HER, and how SHE felt about the situation, and what a bad position SHE was in.

At some point in our chat, I said I assumed since there were two classrooms, let's call the other classroom room A (no disruption all year), and Gabe's classroom room B (fifth and sixth new teachers), with two teachers each, she would be putting one experienced teacher in each class, and one substitute or temporary teacher in each class. So room A would get one original experienced teacher and one new teacher, and room B would get one experienced teacher and one new teacher also. This seemed the fairest plan to me, since room B has already had so much upheaval.

Seriously, I haven't even bothered to mention it throughout the year because it seems so absurd, but Gabe's classroom has been wild. I've arrived to mad chaos almost every day, and teachers who look defeated and unhappy and uninspired. I hear stories from other parents about conflicts they've had both with the director and with the teachers, and although the kids seem fine, they don't seem to be thriving. Gabe was in a little home-based toddler program last year, and he seemed so much happier and excited to go every day, and when I came to pick him up at the end of the morning, the director never seemed to annoyed and frustrated with the kids. Whenever there has been an event, such as a teacher leaving or a child having problems, I see a noticeable effect on the kids, Gabe included.

Okay, back to the conversation. I said I thought it was most fair for the teachers (the director is one of the teachers in the other classroom) to be split between both classrooms so both classes get a little upheaval and lots of stability. Her response? "To be honest with you, we're not doing that because I don't feel like it." (emphasis added on my part) "I just don't want to have to deal with a substitute teacher. I think I have a difficult classroom this year, and I enjoy working with my assistant teacher, and I just don't have the strength or inclination to deal with someone new."

Wait, are you speechless yet? Are you noticing she ISN'T EVEN PRETENDING this is about the kids? My response? "Well, to be honest with you, I don't think Gabe's class is the easiest class ever, and I don't feel comfortable sending him into a class with teachers who haven't worked with these kids before and who were found on such short notice." She said she understood, but again, didn't really care, and didn't want to deal with the temporary teacher, and thought it wasn't a bit deal for the kids to have all of this change, and didn't think it was affecting them, so she wasn't changing anything. Oh, and if I didn't like it, I was welcome to leave.

The conversation was longer than this, of course, but I was actually pretty proud of myself because I tend to not say what I'm thinking in confrontational situations, but in this case, where my son was concerned, I said what I thought. I said I was disappointed in the situation. I said I didn't think she was being fair. I said I wasn't comfortable, and at the end, I said I was pulling him out of the school. And she said fine. And then I chickened out, so Josh called back and asked for our money back for the last two months and she agreed.

We were in a particular situation, where we'd been on vacation for 2 weeks, so Gabe already had a period of separation from the school and had no idea what had gone on with all of the teachers quitting. There were 6 weeks left of school (one of which was April vacation), and we didn't think it made sense to put him through all those changes and adjustments just to leave in such a short time. Josh, in particular, felt strongly he didn't want Gabe sent back to the school.

The first week, I'm not going to lie, I panicked. It was April, and the summer stretched on interminably and September looked ridiculously far off. I buckled down, though, and started making plans for day trips. I've called everyone we know, made playdates for every day, and taken the kids to the Museum of Science, the Children's Museum, Boston Common, parks everyday, the library, long walks, whatever gets us out of the house and onto a schedule has been included. The first days were painful, and just when I assumed Gabe would never ask, he asked if he could go to school tomorrow and I had to tell him school was over. It was sad, but Gabe didn't seem all that upset, although we had a couple days of less than stellar behavior which I attributed to the news.

Lately, though, things have been great. The house is a little messier, and dinner has been a little skimpier, but everyone is happy and busy and enjoying the days. I'm glad we made this choice, and I hope next year's preschool is better in so many ways. Closer, more professional, more stable, and NOT CRAZY! Is that too much to ask?


Theresa said...

ugh.. I loathe preschool drama. We ended up pulling our daughter out of her pre-school program because I found out that they were putting her in time out for, get this: asking too many questions. Wha??? There were lots of other problems we had with the (also unprofessional) teacher, but that was kinda the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I think april was then end of her preschool experience too. So far, she's only asked a couple of times about school, but really seems to be enjoying being home with us instead. She starts kindergarten this fall, so we're enjoying the break too! Good luck with Gabe! It sounds like you have a good summer planned!

Chatty Cricket said...


Is she for REAL? I'm speechless! I can't believe he's had rotating teachers ALL YEAR!!

That's so frustrating and upsetting on so many levels. Good for you for calling it quits (after being MORE than fair by giving the school and the situation the benefit of the doubt).

liz said...

It sounds very like the place we pulled MM out of before he went to Posh Place.

I hope the new place is better!

And, if you're feeling particularly grumpy about the whole situation, you might want to contact the preschool license board in your area and let them know about your concerns.