As a child care owner, administrator, or director, is there really a description that captures the essence of ALL your duties? There are so many competing demands and various responsibilities that you have to the children in your care, the families you serve… and your staff. No description can truly capture the essence of what we do, and those outside of the industry just don’t know.
Focus on Your Staff as the Foundation
If you want to meet the expectations and fulfill the demands of the families you serve and feel good about the work you’re doing, it’s important to have a high-functioning team. Here’s how you do it:
- Keeping your teachers physically and mentally safe
- Showing that you genuinely care about their well-being
- Doing everything within your power to teach them and help them grow in their work as teachers
Supporting and leading your team well is the MOST critical part of all that you do because everything rides on it. Without doing so, your team will leave and resign.
The Heart of Collaboration
The relationships between people — that’s where it’s at! Collaboration requires a uniquely and fervently honed set of interpersonal skills. Now, people can test your patience, so you’ve got to be on your A-game when it comes to your interpersonal skills. You know, those things like: being friendly, thoughtful, getting along well with others, listening effectively, responding sensitively, resolving conflicts, cooperating, and following directions. These interpersonal skills are necessary if you plan to make the collaboration that is needed in teaching actually happen.
What Collaboration Looks Like in Practice
Collaboration is different for every center because there are so many factors it depends on. Rather than asking why you’re doing it, it’s important to ask the bigger questions: What is it you’re hoping to accomplish through collaboration? What are you aiming for? What do you want to see once this is all said and done?
And once you know all of this… goal consensus is important! It means all of your staff agrees on the goals and objectives of the center, like where your school is headed and how you’re going to get there. This particular dimension is important in terms of collaboration because if you’re not on the same team, working toward the same goal, with the end in mind, you’ll never accomplish anything. With collaboration and goal consensus, you’ll have a unified vision of what you hope to achieve in your centers and within your community of learners.
Collaborative Action Plans
Collaborative action plans are what you can use with your team to get things done. Maybe you have a goal to increase enrollments and get your school at full capacity (or even waitlisted!). Maybe your goal is to find a better way to coach your teachers, or maybe you want your teachers to incorporate more outdoor lessons in addition to playground time. Whatever your goals are, use collaborative action plans to get there and make things happen with your team.
But before we go all out and create this elaborate plan to collaborate with your staff, there are a few things that need to happen! Think about:
- What is the primary issue?
- What problems are involved?
- Are you involved enough with your staff to really know what’s going on?
Collaborative action plans need to be created together. This builds buy-in, and your teachers are more likely to hold themselves accountable. The trick to keeping adults invested in the process is to involve them in setting the goals, the rules, whatever the task at hand is. And you should be involved, too. Everyone should be part of the solution and work together toward the same goal (hello, collaboration!).
Set Yourself And Your Team up for Success
You may be wondering, “How am I going to find the time to do this for everyone on my team, for my whole team?” The good news is that you’re probably already doing it! This is just a more official way of doing it. And in the end, it all comes back to planning. So, make time for it. Create SMART goals for each change you wish to accomplish, and start working toward your goals — with your team.
You know what they say… “If you aren’t green and growing, you’re ripe and rotting!!” This field is a continuous coaster of professional development. As you create these collaborative action plans, you must include a team mentality. Everyone is a part of the team. Everyone has a role to play. Everyone needs to be part of the solution. There’s not just one who oversees. There’s not just one who dictates. The work is the responsibility of the entire team.
But remember, as a leader, you get to kickstart the work on it. So, don’t wait. Get to know one another! Build your team! Collaborate! Meet and manage the goals you’ve created together… and watch your team grow and your center succeed.
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, explore our courses or contact us today!