Got asked to "step down" from a position.
Years ago, I taught Sunday school on a voluntary basis at a megachurch in my town. There were so many children in this church that classrooms were made available to group children with Sunday school teachers for every year of their life until middle school and high school, at which point they attended a larger group with similarly aged peers in separate wings of the building. I taught two-year-olds, and loved every moment of it.
My classroom boasted a huge number of children, at about 20-25 per service. I was supposed to have an adult co-teacher, but all the other adult volunteers were sent to other classrooms with a “higher need”. I had two high-school-aged volunteers, best friends, who often spent service time playing together, despite repeated approaches to asking them to play with the children (one of my volunteers was the director’s son, who I couldn’t replace because of his mother, and who clearly did not want to be volunteering).
Despite this, and despite inheriting a huge classroom full of several special needs children, my children played calmly throughout service, and enjoyed a routine and simple rules I set to run the classroom efficiently. Children arrived, played calmly, sang songs, ate snack, and went home.
Even in the face of this obvious evidence that my classroom was running efficiently, I was repeatedly asked by church leaders to adopt certain mannerisms around children I found inauthentic and frankly patronizing. I don’t and won’t speak in a high-pitched voice to anyone, child or adult. I don’t and won’t use words like “upsie daisy”. These requests were persistent. It was the opinion of the church that I was not “warm and welcoming” enough. It was modeled again and again that the church would prefer I was overanimated in a HUGE SMILE HUG “I’M SO GLAD YOU’RE HERE” kind of greeting.
One summer day we were all called (some 50+ room leaders and volunteers) into a mandatory meeting. You know those meetings where you instantly know they’re talking about you? The policies on words like “upsie daisy” were now set in writing, and I was shortly asked to step down for not using these phrases. I was not allowed to prepare my children for the transition to a new Sunday teacher. I was immediately replaced (by a friend, actually) and was fairly crushed about the sudden break from little people I liked spending time with. And furthermore, it made me question my abilities to work with children, an endeavor I had already devoted my life to.
Unbeknownst to my church, I had long been working at a career in early childhood intervention, teaching a classroom full of two-year-old child victims of trauma and abuse with a heavy case load of special needs children. My coworker called me over one Monday, as I was the twos teacher, asking what I made of this email she had just received concerning a church with an out-of-control twos room requesting that someone come consult with their new staff and help implement some new classroom techniques to “manage difficult behaviors”.
Naturally, I agreed to do the consult in person as soon as possible, and asked my coworker to let them know I would meet with them on a completely voluntary basis at their next Sunday service.
It was absolutely my pleasure to greet my church leaders and friend as their specialist consultant, to their confused surprise.
I walked them through all sorts of interventions and strategies I had previously used to create a calm classroom environment and strongly advised against the use of overly excited greetings and phrases like “upsie daisy” in place of direct redirective requests (e.g. “Please put your feet back on the floor.”) It was my strong written recommendation that the written policies on these strategies be amended and for staff to be immediately retrained in accordance with actual therapeutic practices.
It was my last time stepping foot in that church, and will forever remain my most deliciously cherished memories of vindication.