Preschool Teacher (Former Employee), Powell, OH – July 2, 2014
Pros: working with children
Cons: poor morale, bad management, no advancement opportunities, no overtime, high amounts of stress
Enchanted Care seems fixated on calling itself a "learning center" yet they have a lot of learning to do themselves.
A typical day starts between 6:00 for openers and 9:00 for closers. The time clock isn't tightly held to because they prefer if you don't have overtime so if you're 5 or so minutes late, it's okay.
I had the advantage of working with – more... the babies and working with the various ages of older children so I had a taste of both schedules. Working with the older children eventually led to my departure of the company.
With the babies, you're in one room the ENTIRE day so if you don't like the room or your co-workers, tough luck. Luckily I got along with both of my co-workers and my time with the babies was very pleasant. Most of the day is play time/eating/napping with lessons in the morning and evening. If I were able to stay with the babies, I would still be working at Noble.
With the older children (18 months to 5 years), you're constantly moving rooms. The schedule is the same for all ages so what's easy for 5 year olds is way too tight for 2 year olds.
Starting at about 7:30 in the morning, the kids are filed into the cafeteria for snack. About 20 minutes later (after cleaning up), you head back to the classroom to have "free time" until 9:00--when lessons start. During this time, kids are constantly filing in BUT they have a shoestring staff so kids are always being shuffled around to stay under ratio. Most times we were above ratio in more than one room so it took a while to get ratio sorted out. This is completely against the law but because the owners of the company wanted the bare minimum amount of staff, two teachers could be stuck with 18 two-year olds for up to an hour because of staffing issues.
Once 9:00 rolled around and everyone was, hopefully, set for the day, lessons started. The kids were divided to be taken to one side of the room or the other (divided by double doors) where a lesson was done based on a theme of the week. Certain centers were opened for about 20 minutes before everything was cleaned up and the kids switched sides to do it all over again. The lesson plans are created using certain "curriculum" for the month and including centers like sensory, science, construction, language and literacy, dramatic play, manipulatives, and so forth. What's the difference between "manipulatives" and "sensory" you ask? No idea--we were never given any curriculum training, lesson plan training, center training: nothing. The "themes" also created stress because themes like "back to school", "dental health", and "apples" are hard to plan an entire week around for non-school-aged children. The same centers were expected to be opened every day so the children had the ability to sample all of the centers and while that worked wonderfully with the older children, it failed with the younger ones. The younger ones needed more variety yet administration failed to see this and pushed only "learning centers" during lesson time.
The rest of the day consisted of lunch, play time, and nap time. If it was raining or below 20° with wind chill you had to stay inside. During nap time, teachers went to lunch because when children are on their cots, the ratio doubles. Rooms are supposed to be cleaned every day (swept, mopped, counters cleaned, and bathrooms (if there are any) cleaned) but the older rooms might clean once a week while the younger rooms must be cleaned every day. In addition to filling out daily report sheets for younger children (which can take anywhere from 20-30 minutes), teachers have to clean the room while maintaining a sharp eye on the children.
One thing every room had to do was the "what we learned today"; where a teacher writes one activity that most of the children participated in and matches 3-5 curriculum points to the activity. I know it sounds stupid but the lesson plan, the curriculum points, the monthly plan, and the Spanish words were all available for the parents to see so, to me, this was something that made no sense. It was an additional responsibility that no one seemed to remember and annoyed everyone.
During the day there's no time to do any lesson planning, so when do you have to do lesson planning? If you're an opener or someone who comes in before 9:00, you can use the computer available to teachers (if it's free) and do some lesson planning then. If you're the closer you can come in early and use the computer (again, if it's free) or you have to take it home. It normally didn't matter in my center what position you filled: you always worked on lesson plans at home because it takes about 2 to 5 hours to complete your section of the lesson plan.
I can't comment on the insurance because I'm insured through other means but the only "employee discount" is reduced childcare after 3 or so years and free childcare after 7 or so years. I started at $10/hr and given a $0.04 raise at the beginning of the year. Granted, my degree is NOT in the childcare industry so I imagine someone with a degree or vast experience starts at a higher salary.
The "principal" and "vice principal" of the school (they're supposed to be called 'directors' because a 'principal' implies a specific amount of training has been achieved) were not typically interested in helping in the classrooms if they could help it. When I was with the younger kids (18 months to 3 years), the teachers were told we had no "real" discipline problems and not to contact the principals if we could help it. At least 10 times a week we were filling out injury reports because the children were biting, hitting, scratching, pushing, kicking, pulling, etc other children. It is very hard to discipline 2-3 year olds but no help was offered from the management so we resorted to threats: we'll call mommy/daddy, we'll call the principal, or we'll call Santa.
The regional director was always stopping by because she loved picking on our rooms. She preferred that NOTHING be left out, including no toys on the shelf, and everything be in the closet. The most impossible demands were made of us (putting toys out of reach, putting away all diaper changing equipment, setting chairs on the table, etc) and she would begrudgingly admit that running a center with no toys wouldn't be in the children's best interest.
Every month folders are sent home with at least 3 pieces of art the student created and information about the upcoming month. Every three months the teachers review the children. This was a whole other responsibility that followed the curriculum points and "tracked" a specific student's progress. It's supposed to look like the teachers are "teaching" the students. All of this additional work would spill into personal time, eating away hours to track progress, write reports, and do lesson plans.
The only real pro to this job are the children: if you love children then you'll stay longer than you intended. You fall in love with them and they fall in love with you. I will love and miss the kids I worked with for a long time but the cons severely outweighed the pros and eventually I had to quit. – less