Most of us get into early childhood education and care to make a difference to children. Most of us move into management or leadership roles to help guide others in their same goal, and to create procedures and systems to allows everyone to do better and be better. Yet this isn’t always what ends up happening. In my over 16 years of working in the Early Childhood sector I have found that a lot of energy from leaders (whether directors, management or room leaders) goes into managing the staff.
I think this quote is really important to reflect on. Spending time addressing issues as soon as they arise, and clearly following through with expectations early on will actually free up time in the long run. If you say something, you should mean it. This involves following through and ensuring everyone understands their requirements and will follow the rule, procedure, expectation every single time. If you want something to happen you have to address it, not assume that other’s will know what is expected from them when they have never been corrected or had a clear conversation about what is required.
There are a few simple steps to increase the level of professionalism and ensure staff members understand the expectations for them…
- When you see someone do something that does not meet the expectations of their role it is addressed immediately.
- Children come first at all times… the vast majority of educators should be down at their level, communicating with them and challenging them, not talking to each other or all working on tasks such as cleaning or paperwork.
- Mobile phones should not be allowed on the floor and should not be used when working directly with the children.
- Educators should all have goals that they are working towards at all times to keep them motivated and focused.
- Educators should be role models for the children. If the children cannot sit on tables, neither should the educators. If children have to wear hats outside so should educators.
We set limits and boundaries for children and expect them to work within these, and when they step outside we remind them off the rules. If they need extra support to understand how to stay within the limits and boundaries we provide this and we work together as a team to support children. It might be helpful to think about our staff in the same way:
- Set clear policies and procedures, and remind people of these when they step outside the requirements.
- Provide additional support through mentoring, goal setting, training and documentation to help staff know how to meet the requirements.
- Work together as a team to make sure everyone is on the same page, supporting and reminding each other of the requirements and how to make sure these are met every day.
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