Holding Educators Accountable

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Imagine if you asked an Educator / Teacher to incorporate technology into their practices and they just ignored you or didn’t find the time Should they be held accountable?

Accountability is not simply taking the blame when something goes wrong.  It is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions and decisions.  Accountability is about follow-through and getting done what you said you’d get done.

Accountability is about people taking the initiative and following it through. It requires open and upfront communication at all levels.  Accountability is a responsibility to an outcome. Not just a set of tasks.

As leaders, what are you accountable for? Providing a safe work environment? Creating a culture of ongoing learning and development or creating an engaging and supportive work environment?

Educators and Teachers need to be accountable for the education and care of children in their care, building strong relationships with colleagues, creating an environment that’s inclusive with a sense of belonging for families.

If accountability fails, getting angry isn’t the answer. Listed below are 5 things we can do to help improve accountability.

  1. Outline Expectations

Amazing leaders are crystal clear about what they expect. Having a two-way conversation about the outcomes expected, stating how these are going to be achieved and identifying the measures for success will provide the foundations for accountability.

Allocating tasks doesn’t encourage accountability. Asking Lead Educators to remember the parents’ names is merely setting a task. An expectation would involve asking Lead Educators to develop meaningful relationships with family members so that their cultures, beliefs, and interests can be incorporated into our practices.

When is the best time to talk about expectations? Inductions are the best time to chat about expectations., However, if that isn’t possible the second-best time in now!

  1. Provide resources

What skills and resources do Educators need to meet the expectations? Do they need extra prep time or additional learning and development?  Perhaps they need some mentoring or coaching? Allocating resources are essential if you’re going to ask for accountability in return.  Resources can also include an appropriate level of authority. If we delegate all responsibility and no authority we will be setting people up to fail.

  1. Measure success

Nothing is more frustrating than being let down. However, it’s completely avoidable. During your conversation about expectations, agree on weekly milestones with clear measurable objective targets. Targets can be as simple or as complex as you like. A simple measure could be to have three meaningful interactions with families for each Educator in your room per week.

  1. Give Feedback

Honest and ongoing feedback is critical. Educators need to know where they stand. To ensure targets are being met, ask a simple question in your weekly meeting. “How are your relationships with parents in your room? What have you done which moves towards meaningful relationships?

If targets are off track, discuss immediately. Brainstorm a solution and identify a fix.

  1. Set Consequences

If you’ve been clear with steps 1 – 4, you’ve done what you need to support high performance. Now you have 3 choices. Repeat, reward and manage poor performance.

Repeat the steps above if miscommunication has occurred. If it’s been a success and accountability has been achieved, reward the Educator with personal acknowledgment, promotion, Learning and Development, etc. Finally, if they have not proven accountable, then you might need to think about managing the poor performance.

These are the building blocks to create a service of accountability. A strong culture is created when the steps are used in sequence. If you miss any one, accountability will fall through the gap.

The final overarching principle is one of trust. In low-trust environments, leaders and Educators focus on blame. However, in environments of high trust people focus on solutions.

In low-trust environments, Educators might avoid accountability because they’re worried about what might happen if things go wrong. In high-trust environments, Educators understand that if they stuff up, they can ask for help and try again.

Having a culture of accountability will deliver numerous benefits for the service.,  These include higher quality of care to lower employee turnover.

Test your leadership skills with our 6-question quiz!

The Educator Leadership Quiz

 1. Most services hold a team meeting at least once a month. These meetings are best used for…
General reminders about things one or two people are doing wrong.
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Learning and Development and celebrating wins.
Well Done! Team meetings are a great way to build belonging through learning and development and sharing wins. You might like to share a great piece of parent feedback or have an Educator present on a topic of interest. As a general rule, there should be nothing negative in your team meetings.
Giving feedback to the whole team about their performance.
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Dealing with complaints from staff or parents.
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2. When giving feedback:
Give negative and positive feedback together.
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Be positive – focus on what you want to see more of.
Well Done! Be positive – focus on what you want to see more of. When giving feedback focus on what you want to see more of. If you’d like people to improve supervision, focus on the positive actions you’d like the person to take.  Eg. Move closer to the children, interact, observe, ask questions, engage and extend.
Give negative feedback privately and positive feedback publicly.
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Save negative feedback for appraisals.
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3. As a leader, you can build trust with your team by:
Maintaining a professional distance
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Encouraging people to share their emotions and true feelings
Well Done! Encouraging people to share their emotions and true feelings
Trust is created when people are open and approachable and can relate to each other on a personal level
Encouraging people to talk only about work
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Not allowing people to be friends outside of work
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4. During periods of stress and pressure as a leader, you should:
Improve processes and procedures to simplify tasks
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Increase extrinsic motivators like chocolates, lollies, and handwritten notes.
Well Done! Increase extrinsic motivators like chocolates, lollies, and handwritten notes. During periods of stress and pressure, leaders should focus on helping their team stay motivated by providing short-term extrinsic motivators. These short-term extrinsic motivators combined with long-term intrinsic motivators will help to support the team during periods of stress.
Make sure you take the time to restate goals and expectations.
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Cancel all leave and get people to work longer hours.
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5. To get the best out of people, – leaders should:
Focus on making sure tasks are allocated equally
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Allocate tasks according to Educators’ strengths
Well Done! Allocate tasks according to Educators’ strengths.
Everyone needs to be competent at the basic tasks. However, allocating tasks according to strengths allow Educators to thrive. When you allocated tasks based on strengths, the teams work more collaboratively, they solve problems more creatively and they see the bigger picture.
Make sure senior people don’t have to do basic jobs
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Save feedback for appraisals
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6. To hold people accountable, leaders should:
Make sure everyone has shared responsibility
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Ensure you set clear expectations one on one
Well Done! Ensure you set clear expectations one on one.
Having an open two-way discussion about the outcomes you expect from your staff is the best way to ensure accountability. Clear expectations mean that Educators know what’s expected and have a clear path to follow.
Seek anonymous feedback about performance
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Let the team work it out for themselves
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You’re a superstar leader!

For more information check out The Educator Leadership Academy which kicks off 23rd May 2018.



About the author:
Adrian Pattra is the Education Director of Farran Street Education. In this role he manages the day-to-day operational and educational outcomes. Adrian has been involved in adult education for the past 15 years, he holds a Bachelor of Education and a Master in Educational Psychology. Adrian has worked with a range of Children Service’s organisations, providing them with the tools to improve their competency and learning frameworks, while creating a culture of continuous learning.  For the past 20 years, Adrian together with his family has a small long day care service on Sydney’s lower north shore.