This is a long post, but please read, because I need some help from you, dear readers.
When I signed on to be a preschool teacher, I knew the job would have its frustrations. I expected the hand wiping, the nose wiping, the butt wiping. I expected to hear whining and crying and occasional screaming. I expected to deal with dirt stains and food stains and booger stains all over my clothes every single day.
What I did not expect was a shitty boss.
I've been very fortunate thus far in my life when it comes to jobs. I've really only hated one job I ever had, and I got out of there after only one day, as soon as I found out that I'd been purposefully misled about the duties of the job. This is not to say that my jobs were always perfect or that I never whined about them before, because of course I did. But none of the whine-worthy parts were ever bad enough to make me actually want to quit before. I just whined about them to my friends and went on enjoying other aspects of the jobs.
But working for Boss Lady not only makes me want to quit, it makes me want to tear my hair out by the roots and shove it down her throat until she begs for mercy. The beautiful floral pictures in this post are purely intended to calm me down (as if anything could). I can NOT stay at this job much longer.
"Why?" you may ask. Well, I'll tell you...
Major Gripe #1: For having been in this business 20 years, she's still awfully stupid about a lot of things.
We have two girls who speak Norwegian, and one who speaks Hebrew, as well as our three French-speaking boys. I know she's dealt with English language learners before in her career, yet somehow she still can't seem to remember that when she is repeatedly shouting at them as if they're idiots for not following directions, it's probably because they have no idea what she's saying! She speaks to them exactly the same way she speaks to all the other kids, and I don't understand why she thinks that would work.
In addition, she speaks to the other kids with absolutely no indication that she understands children's language development at all. When she gives them a plate of food at the table and says, "Pass it down," they look at her in confusion. Because the normal instructions are to "Take one and pass it down." When they hesitate (because they're confused, which I completely understand), she angrily takes the plate from them and gives it to the kids further down the table. "If they're not going to pay attention," she tells me snidely, "then they get skipped." I reply, "You told them to pass it down. You didn't tell them if they could take one for themselves. They were confused." She hmphs and says, "Well the instructions are always the same, so they ought to know by now." THEY'RE TWO YEARS OLD! They don't interpret, they take things literally. How does she not know that?
She's completely inconsistent in her expectations of the kids, too. Sometimes she'll harp on them for minor issues and sometimes she'll let them slide. Sometimes she'll expect the kids to know the exact order for doing their activities, only to change the order the next day and - shock! - STILL expect them to know it perfectly. She changes the schedule around based on her own needs (e.g. if she has an interview coming in, she'll adjust the timing of the day so the kids are outside during the interview, etc.), and then, when one of the kids asks, "What are we doing next?" she yells at them and says, "We do the same thing every day, you should know this by now!"
How has she spent twenty years in childcare and not learned such basic concepts as these? And how can I work with so little understanding of her work?
Major Gripe #2: She shows no respect for the children.
This one pisses me off so much. Yes, I understand, they are children and - in general - we know much more than they do. We are paid to teach them and guide them because they are still very new to the world. Sure, I'm not arguing they're our peers in the workplace or anything. But they are human beings and, as such, deserve a certain amount of respect for their time and attention. Or so I believe. Clearly, Boss Lady doesn't see it this way.
If the phone rings while she's reading a story to the kids at circle time, she'll stop, put the book down, and go answer the phone, leaving the kids at circle wondering what to do. I've heard her talk for up to 5 minutes before returning to the group, and I know for a fact that some of those phone calls were personal, not calls for the school.
Even worse, she's stopped mid-story to talk across the room to me about one of the kids. She'll see one of the boys get distracted by something on the floor, and she'll stop the story mid-sentence and say something like, "See, I think his real problem is that..." Not only is it rude to interrupt the story after she's specifically asked for the kids' attention, it's especially rude to then talk about one of the kids without any respect for his/her privacy or feelings. Do I think they don't notice? Yeah, sometimes they don't, I'll grant you that. But maybe they do, and at the very least maybe they notice that hey, Boss Lady asked me to sit quietly and listen to the story but now she's not even reading it anymore.
When she makes a mistake and one of the kids corrects her, she'll literally punish them for it. Today, I heard her say, "Maybe you need to go to time-out for correcting the teacher. You're never allowed to correct the teacher." What? No, I'm sorry, I'm not okay with that. When the kids asked me a question once - a simple, "Why are you doing that?" type question - she stopped me from answering and said, "You never justify yourself to them." I said, "I wasn't justifying, I was explaining." She also thinks they shouldn't ever be allowed to be mad or angry at Mom, Dad, or any other figure of authority. Um, hello? Respect their right to experience emotion. There are acceptable and unacceptable ways to express that emotion - which I agree that we should be helping teach them - but they should be allowed to feel whatever they feel.
They're children, yes, but they deserve respect, and I don't see her giving them that at all.
Major Gripe #3: She shows no respect for me.
And really? That's the clincher. Because I can't work for someone who doesn't respect me and my contributions to our work. She's inconsistent with her expectations of me from one day to the next and sometimes - like today - even within one day. In the span of one hour this morning, she
1) yelled at me for not giving one of the kids a lesson (when I was apparently supposed to know to give one)
2) yelled at me for giving a lesson (when I have apparently not been trained on how to give them correctly)
3) yelled at me for not giving a lesson (because I should have realized that the student needed one)
Taking this to a broader picture, she's just generally impatient with me, and constantly yelling at me for doing (or not doing) something - whether I'm doing it incorrectly, too slowly, etc. never seems to matter. But she doesn't take the time to explain anything to me, and that's a big problem. She just expects me to know, like I'm psychic or something. Well, I'm not.
She talks down to me, too. Once, when QueenR was in a particularly difficult mood, Boss Lady actually told me that QueenR's refusal to take a nap was due to my incompetence. "You just don't know how to put kids to sleep yet," she told me with a sneer. "I'm sure after a while you'll learn." I'm sorry, but I've put plenty of kids to sleep, so don't tell me that one iron-willed child's tantrum is because I don't know what I'm doing. I'm the one who spends naptime every afternoon watching over the kids. When Freedo wakes up every afternoon at 2:05 (or within about ten minutes either way) tossing and turning on his mat, I'm the one who gets him back to sleep without his even waking all the way up. When Dino starts kicking in his sleep and manages to fall completely off his mat, I'm the one who manages to ease him back on and cover him with the blanket again. And when DoeEyes has a nightmare, I'm the one who holds her through the whimpering until she gets back to sleep. So Boss Lady can shut her face when it comes to putting kids to sleep.
Seriously, I could go on and on, but I'm trying to respect your time and not write a novel-length post about the awfulness that is Boss Lady's attitude. What I need to know is this:
How do I give my notice?
Tempted as I am to shout in her face for hours about all the ways I think she was a terrible boss (and is a terrible preschool teacher/director), I don't think it's necessary. I think I should try to be civil and respectful in my leaving, and if she needs a reason, I'll tell her I need more money (which is completely true - she pays absolute trash and she knows it). But I don't like confrontation, and I know she's going to be angry that I'm leaving. I want to just email her, but that seems cowardly. And at work, we're really never without kids - I work 8:30-5:30, and the kids arrive as early as 7:30 and leave as late as 6:00.
How do I bring it up? How do I not burn this bridge in case I want a reference later? How do I end this post without sounding like an ungrateful bitch?
Hmmm, that probably wasn't the way, huh?