Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Establishing a Reputation

In my mind, I have a reputation.  I am dependable, trustworthy, helpful, kind, generous, resourceful and creative.  I believe that those who know me would agree.  In fact, I just asked my husband if he felt those words were descriptive of me and he agreed and added faithful and critical thinker to the list.  What I forget is that each time I move, I have to re-establish my reputation.  In fact, I forget this so completely that I expect those around me to just know that I am all these things upon first meeting me. 

Earlier this year, in September, my children and I joined a co-op in our area.  Each parent involved in the co-op is assigned a job during the co-op time.  I was given the joy of co-teaching the 2 year old classroom.  Upon accepting the assignment, I was told that there wasn't a curriculum or a particular schedule of activities.  We could decide how much or how little we wanted to plan for the children.   My partner, also a new parent to the co-op, and I are both mothers of four.  Our children range in age from 16 to 7.  We are familiar with two and three year olds.  We understand development and play.  We know that reading to children is the best thing we can do.  We played, we read, we colored, we stuck stickers, we laced, we traced, we played.  We felt pretty confident that we could handle this class of five. 

We were wrong.  The co-op let us go for six weeks, the entire first session, and at the beginning of the second session they reassigned us with more experienced teachers.  They didn't reassign us because of anything we had done, they said, but because there were parents who wanted their children to have more challenging activities and not just play.  The three and four year old classroom was doing crafts. They had themes.  The children in that program were learning and being challenged.  The children in our class were being cheated because of our lack of experience.  Of course, it wasn't anything that we had done.  Rather, it was all we hadn't done.  Now, I'm being trained by a more experienced teacher so that I know how to manage a class of two and three year olds.  Hopefully, by the end of my training, I'll be able to handle the assignment I've been given.

I keep reminding myself that no one here knows anything about me except what I've shown them.  I keep reminding myself that I haven't given anyone here any reason to believe that I can do more or better.  I keep reminding myself that being offended or hurt really has no purpose.  I keep trying not to be indignant, outraged, frustrated, angry.  I keep reminding myself that homeschool mothers are a tough crowd.  I keep reminding myself that everyone in the co-op is an expert, an overachiever, a parent striving to make sure their child has the very best that life has to offer.

Just because I believe that teaching a two year old the alphabet is as useful as teaching a dog to shake hands, doesn't mean that anyone else agrees with me.  Just because I believe that free play, listening, learning to cooperate, share, negotiate, and entertain yourself and others is the work of pre-school, doesn't mean anyone else agrees with me.  Just because I believe I am a competent, creative and capable teacher doesn't mean that anyone agrees with me, especially if I haven't shown it to be true.

I find myself wondering if it wouldn't be better just to be quiet and thought incompetent.  That would limit the jobs I'm asked to do in the future.  What purpose does it serve to prove myself once again?  Do I really care? 


  1. Wow. I'm sorry you were treated in such a patronizing and condescending way. Wish you were around here so you could join my rock-out co-op. We love talented people like you!!

  2. I would put Maggie Mae in your class any day. She would love it and I would know that she was getting the best teacher possible. That group missed something amazing because of their own unspoken expectations. I am so sorry.

    PS- Based on teaching two, three and four year olds at Sunday school, two year olds could care less about a theme. Just ask me about my Noah's Ark lesson sometime. :0)