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Ode to the Infant Teacher

When New Girl goes to the center each day, we call it “school.” When she runs to her teachers, we call them, well, her teachers. I’ve noticed that some people, friends, sisters-in-law, my mom, either roll their eyes thinking we’re inflating this experience, or laugh with a little “oh, how cute” to use those terms to describe what they think of as “day care” and “baby sitters.” But more and more every day, their brush off of New Girl’s teachers as somehow something less than a first-grade math teacher, or high school English teacher, or college professor, makes me angrier and angrier. In fact, these women are so much more.

I see the grace with which they teach these infants to learn. They teach babies to learn how to comfort themselves to sleep; they teach even the most stubborn 1-year-old to learn to use a cup; they teach them to learn to eat at the table, to figure out a new toy, to overcome frustration, to be proud of their accomplishments. They teach them that they can be loved unconditionally by people in addition to mommy and daddy. I want to say to the non-believers out there, “You try teaching someone who can’t talk, can’t walk, and can’t understand your language how to be a loving, gentle soul, and that the world is safe as long as you are there by his side. Teach someone who cannot hold a paintbrush how to make masterful works of art. Teach someone with no teeth how to enjoy the fruits of the earth. Teach someone who cannot support herself how to literally stand proud on her own. And then, teach them how to talk, walk, and understand your language. And do it all in just a few months.” New Girl’s teachers are the most miraculous people I know. They are amazing, wonderful teachers. And I haven’t even started on what they’ve taught me, but that’s a blog — or a tome — for another day.

7 comments

  1. ProudInfantTeacher March 28, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Thank you so much for appreciating the work we do. I am a proud Infant Teacher and parent. Many people,including Early Childhood Educators think that Infant Teachers are not “real teachers.” I know that what I do is important and all my parents appreciate it including myself as a parent of an Infant baby. Thank you a thousand times over. ProudInfantTeacher.

  2. Anonymous April 2, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    I second that statement. I am also an infant teacher and feel that the work i do is very important. It makes me crazy when people laugh at me when i call my classroom a “classroom.” They do not think what I do is important… I know what I do is important.

  3. Anonymous April 12, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    I am an infant teacher as well and reading your blog just made my day. Thank you for recognizing our hard work. We love what we do but it is nice to see that others appreciate it as well. Thank you.

  4. Anonymous June 1, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    that made me so happy. even people in my own center tell me i’m not really a teacher. i help teach them EVERYTHING they do before they get to the other “teachers”. how to walk, jabber, roll-over, hold a botlle (and later a cup), i even teach them how to give hugs and kiises. i teach an infant that i love them everyday and i thank you for recognizing it.

  5. Anonymous October 20, 2008 at 11:44 am

    I too am a Infant Teacher..I have 3 students in my classroom…Ages 8wks, 7months and 8months all boys….It is wonderful as they are learning something new everyday..Watching the looks on their faces when they touch that cold paint, or that warm pudding is unexplainable…Shame on those who say we infant teachers don’t teach and or not really teachers..It begins with us Infant Teachers!!Proud Of What I Teach!!

  6. Anonymous July 1, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    I enjoyed your comments and I appreciate your words of encouragement. I have been an infant teacher for 7 years. I am proud to say that I do make a difference in each babie's life. The first years of a child are the most critical days of their learning experiences

  7. TS December 3, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Hello,
    I know this was posted over 4 years ago and you may not see this but I just want to say THANK YOU! Thank you for recognizing the hard work and dedication us Infant Teachers do. I am an Infant Teacher as well and I feel some people do not take me seriously. I also feel even the parents of my infants do not appreciate the hardwork that goes into each day. So I think of it as, I am not there for the parents as I actually am for those sweet little babies of mine.

    I love how you wrote it out and if I am to ever show someone that paragraph you wrote, I will give you the credit.

    Thank you for making my day, I mean YEAR!

    Signed,
    A dedicated Infant Teacher

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