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Old 09-14-2013, 10:45 AM
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Lavender Lavender is offline
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Default Advice About Conflict With My Assistant Teacher

First off, I work in a center and am the lead teacher of our mobile infant classroom. I try hard to have a developmentally appropriate classroom providing experiences and enrichment to meet all areas of development. I have some child development classes as well as my CDA and I continue to research every day. I have my own large library of resources. I know I'm doing well as I scored remarkably high with every observation and my written materials have even been used to help teach new child care providers. I even have the county child care resource network sending people to observe my classroom as a model for an infant classroom. Not trying to be a braggart, I just want to paint the picture that I do know what I'm doing. I also have 3 children of my own.

After having rotating assistants for some time, I finally have a dedicated assistant in my room. She is 18 and does well with the children. She is positive, talks to them, and isn't afraid of many of the art and sensory activities I introduce. My problem is that she thinks she is the absolute expert on babies and has an opinion about everything. She has told me that she is a brat and makes her mom do everything she wants how she wants it. I see that towards me in my classroom. It is the dumbest things too. Yesterday I was cutting chicken nuggets with a knife on a plate (wearing gloves) and she objected to it. She made sure to take over dishing out chicken nuggets so she could do it the way she wanted (pinching pieces off with her gloved hand). She takes issue with a lot of things, even arguing with me about things that are state regulations or things our employer has set as policy. It is incredibly frustrating.

I had spoken to the owners (who back me up) and we had a little group discussion including my assistant (under the guise of making sure we were all the same page since she would now be in there frequently. I tried to make sure she knew all the things I appreciated about her work with our kids. I made sure that I did lesson planning for the month with her and have tried to incorporate her ideas into things. It had been going really well until yesterday when she went right back to her baby expert persona. I could ignore one or two things, but she does it constantly when she starts in.

Anyone have any advice on how to handle this?
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Old 09-14-2013, 01:12 PM
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Laurel Laurel is offline
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Originally Posted by Lavender View Post
First off, I work in a center and am the lead teacher of our mobile infant classroom. I try hard to have a developmentally appropriate classroom providing experiences and enrichment to meet all areas of development. I have some child development classes as well as my CDA and I continue to research every day. I have my own large library of resources. I know I'm doing well as I scored remarkably high with every observation and my written materials have even been used to help teach new child care providers. I even have the county child care resource network sending people to observe my classroom as a model for an infant classroom. Not trying to be a braggart, I just want to paint the picture that I do know what I'm doing. I also have 3 children of my own.

After having rotating assistants for some time, I finally have a dedicated assistant in my room. She is 18 and does well with the children. She is positive, talks to them, and isn't afraid of many of the art and sensory activities I introduce. My problem is that she thinks she is the absolute expert on babies and has an opinion about everything. She has told me that she is a brat and makes her mom do everything she wants how she wants it. I see that towards me in my classroom. It is the dumbest things too. Yesterday I was cutting chicken nuggets with a knife on a plate (wearing gloves) and she objected to it. She made sure to take over dishing out chicken nuggets so she could do it the way she wanted (pinching pieces off with her gloved hand). She takes issue with a lot of things, even arguing with me about things that are state regulations or things our employer has set as policy. It is incredibly frustrating.

I had spoken to the owners (who back me up) and we had a little group discussion including my assistant (under the guise of making sure we were all the same page since she would now be in there frequently. I tried to make sure she knew all the things I appreciated about her work with our kids. I made sure that I did lesson planning for the month with her and have tried to incorporate her ideas into things. It had been going really well until yesterday when she went right back to her baby expert persona. I could ignore one or two things, but she does it constantly when she starts in.

Anyone have any advice on how to handle this?
You may just have to be firm and direct with her.

When she says she is a brat and makes her mom do everything you might say "Well this is a place of business and in the business world there are no brats. There are only adults. I am not your mother. Please use a knife when you cut the chicken."

If she persists you could always use the 'broken record technique'.

If she starts again say "Please use a knife when you cut the chicken."

If she says more say "Please use a knife when you cut the chicken."

rinse and repeat....

Good luck, that is very frustrating.

I'm sure others will have better answers.

Sometimes you could just let her try her ideas (the ones which won't hurt anything or anyone) even though you know they'll fail. Maybe she needs experience to teach her that she doesn't know as much as she thinks she does.

Laurel
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Old 09-14-2013, 01:50 PM
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I think what it sounds like is you're dealing with typical teenaged behavior. Not fun but it's pretty common. They're old enough to think they're adults and that they've seen it all and know it all. Yes it's so annoying. But they have no idea that they know nothing . I say this as a mom of two teenagers

I think what Laurel said is true, just keep redirecting. Unfortunately in my experience teenagers are a lot like toddlers. They're big enough to get around but don't know enough to keep themselves out of trouble. So redirection, redirection, redirection.

You could also say something like "I'm really happy you're so eager to do a good job here. I can tell you are invested in learning about child development and what is a good environment for the children. At this particular job there are certain ways we do things. I ask that even if you have a different way that you stick to how we do them when you are here at work."

And when she does have a good idea, let her implement it. She's really still a child when you think about it.

I feel for ya though! Teens are exhausting!!
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Old 09-14-2013, 02:05 PM
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I think what it sounds like is you're dealing with typical teenaged behavior. Not fun but it's pretty common. They're old enough to think they're adults and that they've seen it all and know it all. Yes it's so annoying. But they have no idea that they know nothing . I say this as a mom of two teenagers

I think what Laurel said is true, just keep redirecting. Unfortunately in my experience teenagers are a lot like toddlers. They're big enough to get around but don't know enough to keep themselves out of trouble. So redirection, redirection, redirection.

You could also say something like "I'm really happy you're so eager to do a good job here. I can tell you are invested in learning about child development and what is a good environment for the children. At this particular job there are certain ways we do things. I ask that even if you have a different way that you stick to how we do them when you are here at work."

And when she does have a good idea, let her implement it. She's really still a child when you think about it.

I feel for ya though! Teens are exhausting!!
I had 3 teens at once. I used to have a button I pinned on my purse that said "Be nice to me. I am the mother of a teenager."

The high school assistant principal one time told me that they are in bigger bodies but are still really children.

Laurel
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Old 09-14-2013, 02:15 PM
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Thanks! I don't care how she does something silly like the chicken, what I care about is that she is trying to tell me that I'm wrong and then she tries to teach me how to do it right. The chicken is just an example, it's a lot of silly little things and it's so annoying. I just say this is how I do it, this is why I do it, and that I don't care how she chooses to do it (as long as it is still okay such as the chicken being kept clean and the pieces being small enough). Things that matter I put my foot down with. She will try to go behind me and verify what I'm saying with the owners such as when I told her she could not lay a baby on the floor and hand her the bottle. It is so annoying that she thinks she knows more than I do, it's my classroom!

I did let her change the sensory activity on Friday when she got all weird about mine (a 1/2 inch of warm water with bubbles and bath toys) after the kids were already enjoying it. I knew her idea wouldn't work well and let her figure it out on her own. It was a disaster

So is there no special way to get her to cut it out since she is, after all, just 18? Ugh!!!
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Old 09-14-2013, 03:51 PM
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If it were me, I'd sit her down and have a talk.

Something like this

"Mary, I just wanted to talk with you about a few things. First off, I really appreciate your dedication to your job and the little ones. I've noticed you are very creative and I really like how you are great at self-initiating activities as well. And while I appreciate your independence, there are some guidelines we all have to follow. For instance, laying the babies on the floor and giving them a bottle. It's not open to ideas. It's a rule. There are lots of things that are open to new ideas though and I want you to keep doing that. But, I need you to understand that I am personally held account table for everything in this classroom and the children. That being said, I am responsible to help you and direct you and ultimately all decisions need to be made by me"

Or something along those lines.

Her independence is great and ideas etc. especially for someone her age. However, she has to understand that she isn't in charge. And the mistakes SHE make, you may be held accountable for.
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Old 09-14-2013, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Lavender View Post
Thanks! I don't care how she does something silly like the chicken, what I care about is that she is trying to tell me that I'm wrong and then she tries to teach me how to do it right. The chicken is just an example, it's a lot of silly little things and it's so annoying. I just say this is how I do it, this is why I do it, and that I don't care how she chooses to do it (as long as it is still okay such as the chicken being kept clean and the pieces being small enough). Things that matter I put my foot down with. She will try to go behind me and verify what I'm saying with the owners such as when I told her she could not lay a baby on the floor and hand her the bottle. It is so annoying that she thinks she knows more than I do, it's my classroom!

I did let her change the sensory activity on Friday when she got all weird about mine (a 1/2 inch of warm water with bubbles and bath toys) after the kids were already enjoying it. I knew her idea wouldn't work well and let her figure it out on her own. It was a disaster

So is there no special way to get her to cut it out since she is, after all, just 18? Ugh!!!
Oh I just meant the chicken as an example as well.

Laurel
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Old 09-14-2013, 08:13 PM
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I actually think that you are giving her too much power in the classroom. You are giving her the false idea that the two of you are in an equal partnership and you are backing down to her aggressive attitude.
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Old 09-14-2013, 11:16 PM
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So is there no special way to get her to cut it out since she is, after all, just 18? Ugh!!!
Lol! Not in my experience no. So basically you've got a bunch of little babies and now one big 18 year old baby to take care of, ha ha!

I actually think letting her see that some of her ideas (just like you did with the activity, nothing pertaining to safety of course) are wrong and don't work out will be really beneficial. It's basically using natural consequences just like you would for any other older child. They work better and faster than lecturing kids. She will come around.

In the mean time either hang in there or see if you could get an older helper?
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Old 09-15-2013, 09:15 AM
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Lol! Not in my experience no. So basically you've got a bunch of little babies and now one big 18 year old baby to take care of, ha ha!

I actually think letting her see that some of her ideas (just like you did with the activity, nothing pertaining to safety of course) are wrong and don't work out will be really beneficial. It's basically using natural consequences just like you would for any other older child. They work better and faster than lecturing kids. She will come around.

In the mean time either hang in there or see if you could get an older helper?
I agree with this. Since so many teens/young adults don't like to listen to advice, let her learn the hard when possible.

I like the idea of having a sit down chat with her but I honestly think that will only make her roll her eyes and think "Yeah yeah yeah whatever" and then you will have to work with a young girl with an even bigger attitude.

Be FIRM like another poster said (YOU are the lead, she is the helper).

Continue to rinse and repeat with the rules and routines you are firm about not changing or bending and give her the "freedom" to see that she really doesn't know everything. I think she will learn better that way.
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Old 09-15-2013, 10:26 AM
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Thank you for all the advice! I do want to be careful about how I handle it as her older sister and her cousin both work here, her mom used to do breaks, and she is good friends with two other employees. I don't want to find myself in the middle of drama. I already had to deal with that when the owners chose to remove the old lead and put me in her place. Centers can be like high school, as referenced by someone (Cat Herder?) in a previous thread. It doesn't help with so many of the employees are early 20's (or 18 in this girl's case).
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Old 09-15-2013, 11:22 AM
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Been there and done that! And I agree with Evansmom! Sometimes natural consequences are the only way to show a know it all that they don't know it all! I also agree with others, to be firm and direct when it comes to her telling you what/how to do things in your classroom.
Before I opened my FCC, I have worked in centers for the past 14 years and have been the lead teacher for many of those years. Once in the mobile infant room too (but I was by myself , I loved it, but it was hard).
In my experience, the assistants like the one you describe can be very irritating to work with, but I always had to remember that they are younger and do think that they know everything. I think that I was that way too when I first started working at a center at the age of 18. I thought I knew everything, I even to this day apologize to my sis (she's a little younger than me) because I would always give her advice on what she should do with her kids, well because, I knew everything...lol

When I was the lead, it was a little difficult for me to tell my assistants what to do, I am too nice of a person and when I had assistants come in and tell me what to do, I would often times let it go and do it, but as time went on, I finally got up the nerve to be firm and direct with them, especially when it came to rules that the state or center had. Of course sometimes it would work for a while, then would go back to how it was, but then I just had to repeat and be firm. I was always nice about it, but there is only so much you can take before working with them turns into a miserable experience.

And I always had to remember that these younger assistants are younger and it may take a few or a million times before they realize that you know what you are doing and you are the lead teacher of that room. Hopefully she will catch on and realize that you are the lead and what you say goes.

Sorry this is so long, I always have things to say or advice to give and it sounds great in my head, but when I go to type it, it's long and doesn't make the best of sense...lol
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