There’s an awesome quote by Dr. Justin Tarte that states “As educators, the more we know about who we teach, the more effective we will be with what we teach. Taking time to get to know our students isn’t fluff time, it’s academic time.”
This is the same mindset that should be applied when leading a team. It’s important to know all about your team members and how they want to grow. Trusted, strong leadership creates strong teachers and employees. The problem is finding the time to coach and mentor, and do it the right way. Your teachers likely vary widely in skillsets and abilities, so doing it the “right” way means really differentiating your approach. And while that is so important and so worth it, it’s also a lot.
Put in the Time to Get the Results You Want
Your job as a collaborative partner is to foster growth in your teachers, to know their teaching styles, their teaching experiences, and assign them to the right classroom, one that is going to utilize their strengths. You’ve got to know your staff to know what they need, and that won’t happen overnight! You must build relationships before they will trust you as their boss, their coach, and their mentor. That may sound crazy, and it’s a lot of extra work to pile on your very full plate, yet we promise you it’s worth every minute you pour into it.
When you are intentional about adding value to your employees and building them up both in skill and confidence, you will receive 10x back what you pour in. This time is an opportunity for you to build a strong team of excellent teachers who are strong leaders.
If we’re going to put our best foot forward, we have to begin with the end in mind. We know the overall goal for our students is to build a strong foundation at the preschool level so they can be successful in kindergarten. You want your school to be known as the place where everyone wants to work and a place where excellent learning happens. So, how do you do this? In a few ways.
- Make sure you have a top-notch staff. The turnover rate for preschools is insane; you absolutely do not want turnover to be what your school is known for. Turnover is caused by issues, and those issues will be what hurts your school and keeps it from the success it could be. Good team members are hard to find, but once you find them — don’t let them go. They will help you build an incredible school that parents, teachers, and students love.
- Create a strong coaching and mentoring program. Your goal should be to build your teachers up to be the best that they can be. Now, coaching and mentoring in preschool programs can be a bit messy and even scary at times if that’s out of your comfort zone, but we can help you. We’re here to support you so you can, in turn, build up your team.
No matter how long you’ve been in the position as a director or owner, it’s important to plant yourself alongside your team and lead by example. Know your team, earn their trust, create relationships, and be a mentor to them. Maximize their potential! Many teachers lack confidence, and confidence is really a learned skill, so it’s something you can encourage everyone to work on and grow in every day.
A Realistic Timeline
Change can definitely happen; and in many cases, it should! It’s often exactly what’s needed to push the team closer to success. However, please know that changes, no matter how big or small, cannot be made overnight. At the same time, those changes you choose to implement cannot be sprung upon your staff. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Research has shown that people support change if they’re involved in determining what changes will be taking place. So while you may be thinking, “Let’s get this show on the road,” your teachers might be a little more hesitant. Your team has to be on the same page as you if you’re going to have their support and effort.
Paula Jorde-Bloom was an expert on organizational climate and leadership. She once shared three different types of changes that we try to incorporate into our organizations. Let’s take a quick look at those.
Knowledge changes are usually the easiest of changes to make. We can implement changes in knowledge with something as simple as reading an article or hearing something new from another person.
Attitude changes are a tad more difficult to make than changes in knowledge, mostly because our attitudes are so closely tied to what we value and how we think — what we believe about ourselves and about the world. Any change we try to make in our attitude may be emotionally charged in either a positive or negative way.
Behavior changes are the most difficult and time-consuming change. People hesitate to make changes, even the slightest change in their routines or processes. It’s important to know the “why” behind a resistance to change, and until we really expose the true culprit, we cannot begin to improve a person’s willingness to change.
Coaching & Mentoring: A Positive Approach to Change
Coaching and mentoring programs can be really successful if you’re intentional in the way you go about them! And yes, it takes a lot of time and energy to get them going at first, but to be the best center you can be, you’ve got to put in the work to get there. In your implementation of a coaching and mentoring program, you need to be sure that you have a well-thought-out plan that aligns with your overall goal.
When coaching and mentoring, it’s important to ask yourself the big questions. Things like:
- What do I want my teachers to learn from this program?
- What do I want them to take away from it?
- How can I help them reach their goals?
- How do these goals align with my overall vision for our center?
- What do I want my center to look like within the next few years?
A Few Tips
As you plan on coaching and mentoring, there are some things to keep in mind — otherwise, it’s easy to get discouraged.
- You cannot coach or mentor people we know nothing about. So, getting to know the people who work with you is an important part of implementing a successful coaching and mentoring program.
- The goals you have for your center should always be at the forefront. How is what you are doing in this program going to help you achieve those goals?
- Taking stock of where you’re at in relation to the goals should happen regularly. You should regularly ask, “Where are we now? What steps do we have to take to get to our destination?”
Lead Your Teachers to Success!
At the end of the day, you are responsible for growing your teachers and establishing a fluid coaching and mentoring program in your school. You want your teachers to be the best they can be with a solid foundation of professional development, a nurturing and welcoming attitude, and the urge to grow and flourish. If you have accomplished that in your school, then you’re on the path to success. Go get ’em, coach!!
At Impact Early Education, we know your work is never done. That’s why we provide valuable professional development courses for preschool teachers, directors, and owners in a way that works for you. To learn more about child care administrator, explore our courses or contact us today!