07 December 2005

Decisons, Decisions

The twists and turns of my life never cease to baffle me. I mentioned that my current situation reminded me of the last time I worked at a daycare centre. I'll admit that my nervous feelings in regard to resigning from Montreal Playskool stemmed from my prior experience. The reaction that I got from Brenda yesterday has renewed my hope in humanity, and possibly in daycare centres.

Flashback...I had the most dreadful work experience of my life during the two months that I spent working at Garderie Betty, a daycare centre in my neighbourhood of Ville Saint-Laurent. I don't want to dredge up the entire scenario, but I'll give you the major details...

At Garderie Betty, I worked in the nursery. I was responsible for ten babies between the ages of 9-14 months. Given their young age, most of the day was spent feeding them, comforting them when they cried and changing diapers. It was very difficult planning for such a young age group, but I managed to come up with simple art activities like finger-painting and collage. I would also read them simple storybooks, sing to them (some were able to sing along) and allow them free playtime with the few toys that the daycare provided while supervising them cautiously and attempting to give them as much one-on-one attention as possible.

My co-educator Sophie was as useless as they come. She refused to help me plan, prepare or carry out any of the art activities for the babies. Her attitude was terrible. She would often ignore crying babies and didn't believe in giving them individual attention, stating that we weren't permitted the time to give them the attention they needed, so that was just too bad.

When the babies would go down for their nap, I'd spend my time cutting things out for cut and paste activities, cleaning the classroom, washing the toys, checking the diaper inventory, etc. I would usually only take 30 minutes or less for my actual lunch-hour, because I had so much work to do. Sophie, on the other hand, would spend her time doing her nails, plucking her eyebrows, leaving the daycare for up to two hours at a time to go to the tanning salon, meet friends for lunch, etc. I should also mention that she had had no previous training in childcare whatsoever. She was in fact a licensed esthetician. Go figure.

The worst part was definitely her treatment of the babies. She showed preferential treatment to those she liked, and ignored or screamed at those she didn't like. She overfed the babies and fed them way too quickly, causing some to either throw-up or have severe diarrhea on more than one occassion. The most horrible thing I caught her doing was feeding the babies using the same spoon or even worse, wiping their faces with the same cloth she had used to wipe the table.

I finally decided to speak up and the director (the evil Betty herself) pretended to believe me and sympathise with me. However, she never said anything to Sophie. When I gave my two weeks notice, she flat out refused it. She said that she wouldn't accept my resignation and that we would have a meeting to discuss the problems immediately. Of course, Sophie denied everything and since she had been there for several years, Betty believed her. The only thing that Sophie fessed up to was taking the long lunch-hours, although she made it sound like it was a rarity when in fact it happened almost every day. Betty made her promise that she would not take more than an hour for lunch. She also said that she would move me to another class as soon as possible, since "things weren't working out" between Sophie & I. That was about it.

As far as I know, there was never any effort to move me to another class. I suppose Betty thought that things would settle, imbecile that she is. You can only imagine what Sophie's wrath was like. She totally freaked out on me, called me a liar, said that I'd betrayed her...all this in front of the babies. She still continued to mistreat the babies, in addition to making my life a living hell. She took shorter lunch breaks, which she would spend going to the other classes and bad-mouthing me to other educators.

After about a week of this, I attempted once again to resign. Again the pleading and the promises resumed. Betty also started with the guilt-trip about how I would be letting the children down. I put my foot down and said, "I want to leave! You can't refuse me." Finally, she said, "You want to resign? Well, I won't accept your notice. Finish your day, then leave!"

I never got to say a proper goodbye to the babies or the parents. Some of the mothers started crying when I told them I was leaving that day. It was horrible. However, it gets worse...when I picked up my final paycheck, there was the most hateful letter I have ever read included in the envelope with a note stating that this was the letter that had been given to all of the parents. Basically, the letter was a major assault on my credibility and character, a bunch of venomous fabrications about how I had never had any intention of staying at the daycare and that I had lied about a doctor's appointment and instead had gone to a job interview, blah, blah, blah. I actually kept the letter to remind myself of just how mean-spirited and dishonest people can be.

So...that was the short version. It makes me sick just remembering that horrible experience. Those of you who've known me for a long time...I'm sure that you remember how devastating that experience was for me. I'm sure that you could all imagine why I was so skeptical about how Brenda would react to my resignation this time around. I was also very worried about Tatiana's reaction. Would it be a repeat of the Sophie situation? How would it effect the kids?

So...I called Playskool early Tuesday morning, and told Pamela that I wouldn't be coming into work but that I'd like to have the opportunity to talk with Brenda. She passed the phone to Brenda and we arranged a meeting at 11:00am. I had written a formal and straightforward letter of resignation effective immediately, requesting that the notice period be waived. I also intended on simply telling her that Tatiana and I had very different views on the concept of teamwork and that it just wasn't working out. I was prepared to go into more detail if Brenda seemed receptive. She has always been very understanding and far more present than that Betty scumbag ever was. Still, it was with trepidation that I presented her with my reasons for resigning.

Well...before I could even provide her with details, she let me know that some of the other teachers had expressed concern as to how both myself and Vanessa had been treated by Tatiana. She stated that she felt that Tatiana is very set in her ways and that she's been under a lot of stress. I said, "Working with children is very demanding, however there's no reason to be this stressed out. It just isn't right."

I told her how I felt that from day one, I was spoken to in a very condescending manner, reprimanded (in front of the children) for not doing things Tatiana's way and constantly given unsolicited advice on how to discipline children regardless of the fact that I have a degree in Child Studies and roughly three years more experience with this age group than Tatiana.

I also expressed how I felt that I was constantly being given mixed signals and that there was a gross lack of communication. I explained that many decisions regarding curriculum and classroom management were decided by Tatiana without discussing or even mentioning anything to myself or Vanessa. I reminded Brenda that I had worked with over a dozen different co-educators at the Community Centre and that I had never experienced such a complete lack of communication, not to mention respect. Needless to say, I have never included my two-month stint at Garderie Betty on my resumé.

I cited a couple of examples of Tatiana's unreasonable behaviour and suggested talking with Vanessa as well. I told her that both Vanessa and myself are talented educators with a lot to offer these children, but we haven't been permitted to adequately display this due to Tatiana's behaviour. "She just takes control," I told Brenda. I was careful to mention a couple of positive things about Tatiana. Believe me, that was a difficult task.

Brenda seems to think that Tatiana has difficulty accepting new educators because she was so attached to Sylvie (the educator I replaced). Tatiana started at Playskool as an intern and was basically trained by Sylvie. I can't figure out what she learnt from her, because apparently Sylvie was a good teacher. I met her once and she seemed very warm.

Currently, Brenda has placed Rebecca (who formerly worked with the three-year-olds) in the class. She thinks that Tatiana will react well to this internal transfer. I don't think that Brenda fully grasps just how harmful Tatiana is to the children, regardless of how good an intern she may have once been. It's obvious that although she seemed to have done a decent job when Sylvie was there, she is now completely out of control. I am hoping that Vanessa will speak up and provide Brenda with more details. She has been there longer than me and if we both speak up, it should have more of an impact.

In regards to my feelings and my resignation, essentially, Brenda was very understanding and apologetic. She expressed deep regret in losing me. She told me that the other educators want me to stay. In fact, she has offered me a job in the three-year-olds classroom. She said that she understands that I have a "bad taste in my mouth" and that I may not be comfortable in coming back. I told her that I would think about it.

Of course, I also have the English teaching job to consider. I've told both Brenda and Nadia that I would get back them before the week is up. So now I have to make a decision. Incidentally, the job at Telelangues is only part-time and the first contract (beginning 10th January) is a 1.5 hour bus ride away. I am considering a request to work part-time at Playskool, that way I could possibly take on both jobs.

I should mention that Brenda told me that I didn't have to commit straight away. She said that if I wanted to, I could give it a two-week trial. I think that I will be doing that. However, Nadia is going on holiday from 14th December to 6th January, so she needs an answer from me ASAP. I have to make up my mind by tomorrow! Aarrgh!

Gambarre masu!

1 comment:

modisabelle said...

Hi beautiful!
Just thought I'd check out what you're up to. Man, sounds like it sucks, this Tatiana business. Everything will be better very soon, I trust you'll make the right choice.
BTW, your garderie Betty story made me sick to my stomach, just thinking about babies being treated like that. I had forgotten all about it.
Thank god for the land of the free to be able to be self-employed, why don't you join us?
Thinking of you, will write email soon hon,
Much love ,
Isabelle XXXX