On 26th Aug we kick off The Early Childhood Management Series.
This 5-part live webinar series tackles complicated topics such as; time management, conflict, gossip, and trust. We provide simple proven strategies that you can use to deal with these issues and get the best out of your team.
The following webinars are included in the series:
1. Time Management For Managers
2. Building Strong Leadership Teams
3. It’s A Knockout – Resolving and Preventing Non-Functional Conflict
4. Building Trust In EC Teams
5. Eliminating Gossip and Promoting a Positive Culture.
Time Management Quiz
Time management is an essential management skill for any Teacher, Nominated Supervisor or Co-ordinator. Being time poor is perhaps the biggest hurdle in being an effective manager in an early childhood education and care setting. So many people say “If I didn’t get so many interruptions, I might actually be able to get something done!”
Without good time management skills, you’re left dealing with only the most urgent issues with no time to plan, review or reflect. Trapped in a never-ending cycle of urgent tasks you remain paralysed unable to lead and manage effectively.
The quiz below will help you to understand how effectively you manage your time.
As a leader, we understand you spend your day wearing many different hats in the workplace.
Sometimes it can be challenging to choose the right professional development opportunities for you and your team. To help save you time in trying to analyse the development teams of you and/or your team, we have developed the Leadership Learning Plans.
These cards are designed to help you understand the skills and development needs of certain roles. We have also included some suggested some Farran Street Education programs which assist you in forging the right path for you or your team members.
Over the coming weeks, we will be releasing these Leadership Learning Plans and encourage you to take them back to your team to discuss!
Motivating staff is a major concern for any EC or OSHC manager. In this short video Daniel Pink uncovers the 3 key ingredients which need to be present for staff to be motivated.
Each year appraisals are dreaded by Educators and Managers alike. But they don’t have to be! Appraisals should be a culmination of feedback given throughout the year and an opportunity to re-set expectations. If you want to receive an outstanding appraisal here are 5 statements to keep you at the top of the pile.
- “This year I’ve spent time helping other Educators”
Informal coaching and mentoring of Educators in your team is going to almost guarantee you an amazing appraisal. If you’ve taken time during the year to help other Educators who may have been struggling or if you implemented change and inspired the team on the journey, then it will show your manager you’re a team player.
- “This year I’ve learnt new skills”
Educators who focus on personal growth and development tend to be in the top 10% of high performers. Stating that you’ve learnt new skills in your role shows you’re adopting a “willing to learn” attitude rather an “I know it all” attitude.
- “I’ve achieved my goals we set last year”
Each year many of us set goals for the following year. High performing Educators make sure that they’ve achieved these goals. They make sure that the personal goals they set link to their room goals and their services’ goals.
- “This year I’d like to grow in my role”
Taking control of your professional development and career progression is key to receiving a great appraisal. Perhaps you’d like to specialise in technology or sustainability. Perhaps you’d like to develop your advocacy skills or take time to establish your professional identity.
- “What can I do to exceed your expectations for next year?”
Asking this question shows that you’re driven to be great at your role. It also reminds your manager that in order for you to demonstrate high performance they need to clearly articulate their expectations.
Are you managing appraisals this year? Check out our new webinar Educator Performance Reviews & Appraisals. They’re Not About Feedback
Finding amazing staff to hire seems like a never-ending task. Do you give a job to the applicant who is “ok” or do you wait for the candidate who is “amazing?” With labour shortages at an all-time high, we need to get creative about where we can find the best candidates. Check out my top 5 tips for finding the best Educators to hire.
- The best Educators will come from your personal network, not job sites
Building your personal network is the best way to find amazing Educators to hire. Personal networks can be developed through attending conferences, training and networking opportunities.
- The best people to hire are working for you already
Succession planning is key to reducing the number of Educators you have to hire. Everyone should be performing in their role and learning another role at all times. Educators should always be on a progression path, therefore when someone resigns you have options to promote people into the role.
- Create an EVP
An Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is a collection of offerings provided by a service in return for the skills, capabilities and experiences an employee brings to the organization. Think; personal interest budget, gym membership, performance-based pay, opportunities for professional development.
- Hire on attitude and train the skills
An applicant that has the right attitude toward parents, children, and teamwork is more important hiring someone who has the qualifications but has the wrong attitude. Sure, this is hard given the qualifications requirements in the regulations; however, the principle still runs true.
- Create a networking meeting in your local area
If your service is well known and respected in the local area, you’ll find it easier to attract high performing staff. Try holding shared professional development sessions or networking meetings and invite the local services.
To find out more about check-out our management workshops Hiring, Firing and Everything In Between.
Is children escaping the service reason enough to terminate the staff member who was in charge of supervising?
The answer may surprise you.
Last year, a teacher was dismissed after children escaped from a kindergarten near Geelong.
The incident which prompted the dismissal occurred three days prior when two young children escaped from the kindergarten without detection and walked down the street to a nearby primary school. The 4-year olds managed to escape by opening two doors with the aid of chairs and then by climbing a fence to unlock a “child-proof” gate.
The teacher in question was a nominated supervisor at the time and was dismissed from her employment for:
- demonstrating a lack of adequate supervision;
- breaching the duty of care and responsibilities of an early childhood educator and nominated supervisor;
- failing to show remorse and accept responsibility.
The teacher made an unfair dismissal application.
The Fair Work Commission found that the failure of the teacher to properly supervise the children and allow them to not only escape the kindergarten, but to also allow the disappearance to go unnoticed, was a valid reason for dismissal.
However, the Fair Work Commission also found that the dismissal was harsh, as the company had failed to consider the teacher’s 39-year employment in the role in which time her record was unblemished. The Fair Work Commission stated that the financial consequences to the teacher far outweighed the valid reason for the breach and that the kindergarten had shown some clear deficiencies in their investigation process with regard to the issue.
Together, these two conclusions resulted in the Fair Work Commission finding in favour of the teacher and stressed the importance of employers taking into account their employees career history and also the need for a careful investigation process.
To find out more about managing poor performance and termination check out our Hiring, Firing and Everything in Between workshops.
Most people avoid giving constructive feedback because they are worried about destroying relationships. But why does feedback hurt so much?
Giving feedback is a key leadership skill, and creating an environment where feedback is expected and accepted should be the goal of every service.
So, if we know it’s so important why do we avoid it.
At the heart of receiving feedback is a clash between two key human desires:
- The need to learn and grow, and
- The need to feel accepted and respected for who we are.
We’re wired to enjoy learning and growing. It’s a big part of what brings satisfaction and accomplishment to life. I can point to the many times that I ’ve learnt and grown from feedback in my past.
But we also need to feel accepted, respected, and safe just the way we are now. And that’s why feedback is such a conundrum. It can be enormously threatening because the very fact that someone is giving us negative feedback suggests that the way we are now is not quite right.
But there is a better way!
You can create an environment where feedback is expected and accepted
and even in those instances where constructive feedback is given, Educators can leave the interaction feeling reflective and inspired.
The foundation for creating an environment where feedback is expected and accepted is to develop a culture of constant inquiry.
A culture of constant inquiry starts with the ability to ask great questions. Questions are also a powerful tool for promoting thinking and learning. Asking great questions is at the heart of effective communication and the secret to great leadership.
By asking the right questions you can gather better information and learn more; you can build stronger relationships, manage people more effectively and ultimately deliver better feedback.
Questions unlock and open doors that otherwise remain closed. They allow us to see things from different perspectives. It’s important to remove the negative stigma attached to the process of asking questions. The Nominated Supervisor says to the Educator, “Why didn’t you put the bikes out today?” The Educator becomes defensive, “Have I done something wrong?” The Educator fires back.
All too often questions signal a reprimand.
The first step in giving great feedback is to establish that questions are simply an attempt to gain more information, to get better insight and to understand perspectives. Great leaders can ask questions which denote a positive sense of genuine inquiry.
Begin your feedback journey by asking great questions
- What was your vision for setting up the yard today?
- If you could have any resources you wanted, what experience would you design for the children?
- What was your inspiration for that experience?
- If you could have your time again how would you handle that situation?
- If you were a child, what would it look like?
- If you were in my shoes, what would you do?
One final thought—we only accept feedback from people we trust. Start by asking great questions and building trust.
To learn more about creating a culture of feedback, join us for The Leadership Academy.
Keeping staff engaged and motivated can seem like an endless task. Just when you think you have your team on track, something goes off the rails!
It is critical that leaders create environments that are motivating, inspiring and challenging for Educators.
If Educators become disengaged through poor management, you run the risk of losing your best staff. Great services provide Educators with a sense of purpose, an opportunity to learn and grow, the resources to collaborate and the encouragement to celebrate strengths.
Old-school management suggests that levels of motivation and the health and wellbeing of Educators were issues to be dealt with by the individual. However, current research shows us that workplaces also have an important role to play in improving employee wellbeing.
Two of the most important factors in keeping Educators intrinsically motivated are a perceived sense of competence and a sense of belonging.
Below we’ve listed 10 experiences which will help both perceived competency and a sense of belonging.
The experiences are not about having fun, they are about:
- Building connections with other educators
- Learning new skills
- Creating a sense of belonging
- Being challenged
- Celebrating strengths
And, if a laugh is had in the process, then that’s a bonus.
- Backyard blitz
Break your staff up into teams. Each team gets a $50 budget to spend at Bunnings. The week-long challenge …to create the best indoor learning environment based on sustainability! The winning team gets to choose a visit from either a juice truck, ice cream truck or coffee cart to the centre. Everyone shares in the prize.
- Check your skills week – Identify some key Educator competencies and create a week of challenges!
Idea 1. Wrap a pen in a piece of paper with ‘syringe’ written on it. Leave it in the outdoor area and see how well your educators do their backyard checks!
Idea 2. Create a fake emergency and see how your team reacts.
Idea 3. Call the service pretending to be a parent. See how much confidential information educators give your dubious concerned parent over the phone.
Idea 4. Check out their first aid skills by writing symptoms on a doll and placing it in the babies’ room.
Idea 5. Throw a plastic snake in the backyard. See if your Educators know what to do!
The week is about celebrating success; prizes, vouchers and rewards, all add to the fun.
- Eye spy quality interactions
Grab a Go-Pro or digital camera and set it to take images of the outdoor area every 30 seconds. Print the images or bring them up on a screen and get educators to review the images and discuss where they see quality interactions or missed opportunities. Create an amazing discussion about how you can create quality interactions in the outdoor area.
- Nappy Changing Olympics
Need to review your nappy changing procedure? Create nappy changing ‘events’ with dolls and challenge each educator to enter. Ideas include the one-handed nappy change, the time-trial nappy change, most interactive nappy change or blind-folded nappy change. What alternatives can you think of? Use the experience to discuss and review the nappy changing procedure.
- Gratitude week
At the beginning of the week, everyone is allocated a member of staff. Each staff member is tasked with doing something nice for that person during the week whilst remaining anonymous. Flowers, hugs, thank-you notes, the possibilities are endless! Devious types might want to throw in red herrings by doing something overtly nice to someone who isn’t their chosen beneficiary.
- Family Matters
Do you want Educators to create strong relationship with parents? Start by helping them remember the parents’ names. Give them a week to remember the names and interests of the parents. Now it’s time to hold your quiz night. You can split the service into room groups. Randomly select a child’s name from each room. If the Educator can identify parent one’s name, they receive a prize from prize level one. If they can name both parents, they receive a prize from level two. If they can correctly identify both parents and the interest listed they receive a prize from level three. There will be laughing, joking, cheating and usually, throwing of food. It’s all part of the learning process.
- House Swap
This is a great experience for cross skilling educators and celebrating strengths. In this experience, you allocate an educator to another room. They spend the day in that room and their only task is to list 10 amazing things they’ve observed during the day. They present the list to the room Educators at the conclusion of the day. PS. This is a great way of building inter-room relationships.
- Sustainability Mystery box
Everyone loves a competition! Deliver the same sustainable resources to each room. They have 2 weeks to build the most interactive, age appropriate, learning experience with the children, using exclusively, the resources provided. The competition can be judged by your sustainability committee and the winning team can win a voucher for their room.
- Allergy Celebrity Head
Allergies can be serious, but the learning process doesn’t have to be. In this experience, an educator has a child’s name tacked above their head. Asking only allergy related questions to the team, the educator has to guess which child they have been assigned.
Take your documentation to the next level. Film an interaction between a group of children. Place your Educators in inter-room teams, email the recording to each group. Have each team discuss, investigate and document the learning that has taken place in the video. In a staff meeting, you might like to have each team present their findings.
Bonus experience – Adopt me
This experience helps educators build strong relationships with children from other rooms. Each Educator is allocated a child from another room. They have a month to get to know that child. Needs, interests, likes and dislikes. After a month they have to report back to the Educators from that room. Talking about the information they’ve ascertained and without using the child’s name, the Educators from that room have to guess which child has been the subject of the study.
We hope you loved these ideas. Sign up to receive 5 MORE WAYS TO MOTIVATE YOUR TEAM!
Being time-poor is perhaps the biggest hurdle in being an effective manager in an early childhood education and care setting. So many people say “If I didn’t get so many interruptions, I might actually be able to get something done!”
In this post we explore and look at time-saving tools to significantly improve communication with Educators / Teachers and families. These tools can literally save you hours each day.
1. Reduce interruptions by talking to your staff more
Having regular catch-ups with your team 1:1 will mean less interruptions. Ideally, you should meet with each of your staff once a week for 5 to 7 minutes. In this time, you can give them your undivided attention, find out how their weeks been, follow up on any feedback and check in with them. As your weekly meetings become more and more regular, you’ll find your Educators / Teachers interrupt you less. They hold their ideas waiting for the weekly meeting. You can even get them an A4 exercise book where they can jot down their ideas during the week
Make sure the right person does the right job at the right time. You shouldn’t be the person ordering nappies and baby wipes. Having a manager ordering stock is a poor use of resources. Giving an up-and-coming staff member the responsibility of managing the stock levels is a more appropriate use of human resources. You can relieve that staff member whilst they order supplies and you can use that time to coach and mentor staff in the room.
3. Have morning briefings
How many times do you have to deliver the same message each morning? First into the babies room, then into the toddlers, then to the preschoolers and don’t forget the kitchen and the office. Take the time to have morning briefings., Do them over an intercom system. The room leaders listens on the intercom to the morning briefing, often no longer than three or four minutes. Then they’re responsible for passing on the message to their teams. Absent children, messages from parents, lunches or changes in shifts, they can all be delivered over the morning briefing. At Farran Street we call them the morning POW-WOW.
4. Schedule other people
At Farran Street, we invite potential families to make an appointment to tour the service. Tours are conducted every Monday between 9 and 11am. If potential families pop into the service outside these times, they are greeted and invited to make an appointment for the following Monday. Sales reps, booksellers, handy men, potential families, everyone needs to make an appointment. Reminder emails are sent two days before meetings to minimise no-shows.
5. Use technology to save time
Create a closed Facebook group to help your Educators / Teachers keep in touch. You can post rosters, notices, questions and reminders all to the Facebook group. Staff will receive notifications when the group has been updated, and you’ll be able to see who’s viewed the material. A closed Facebook group is just like the whiteboard in the staff room, only this way, it can be accessed from anywhere at any time and it becomes a discussion rather than just a way of delivering messages.
6. Schedule reactive time
If you have eight hours of office time and you know that normally you’re interrupted at least a quarter of the time, then you should only be scheduling six hours’ worth of work. In the morning, list down all the things you plan to complete that day and leave time for interruptions and reactive tasks. This way you won’t feel frustrated or demoralised when you have to deal with an issue immediately.
7. Use geo-reminders on your iPhone
The iPhone’s reminders App is pretty handy., Add in its location-based abilities and it becomes an absolute lifesaver. You can set up reminder alerts to go off at a certain place. For example, if you keep forgetting to collect those art and craft supplies, your iPhone can remind you the next time you’re within 100 meters of the supermarket. It can also remind you of things before you leave the house or set a reminder to take work home before you leave for the day.
Meetings tend to be the bugbear of both staff and managers alike. As you begin the year it might be a nice time to reflect on how to get the most out of your meetings.
Below are 3 do’s and don’ts for having effective meetings.
1. General Reminders
Team meetings are NOT for general reminders. “I’d like to remind everyone to supervise correctly.” “Don’t forget to wear your hat.” General reminders in a large group setting do nothing but decrease morale and promote an autocratic environment
2. Tell off the Entire Team
Team meetings are not an opportunity to tell off the entire team for what one or two people may have been doing wrong. “A few people have been coming in late…can everyone please remember to come in on time.” Telling off the entire team creates a culture of blame and intimidation.
3. Have large group discussion
Large group discussions seldom succeed in getting the best ideas from your team. Often large group discussions can become confrontational and often only the loudest people are heard. Not everyone operates best in a large group environment.
1. Celebrate Achievements
Whole team meetings are a great opportunity to celebrate achievements from Educators. Staff meetings should be an opportunity to present best practice from around the service and highlight great work. Remember: What you focus on is what you get more of.
2. Generate Discussion
Team meetings are a great opportunity to generate discussion and capture ideas from the team. Use a 3 step process to make sure everyone feels included. 1. Individual brainstorm, 2. Small group discussion. 3 large group discussion. Using this process will ensure everyone has a chance to thrive.
3. Learning and Development
Team meetings are a great opportunity for learning and development. Allow Educators to specialise in areas of interest and use team meetings as an opportunity for them to share their knowledge with the broader team. Team meetings are also a great opportunity to have a guest speaker or run a training session.
With these simple tips, your meetings will be loved not loathed and you’ll get the best from your team.