Monday, March 31, 2008

The quest for teachers and teacher retention


I'm learning quick at my new job. I'm learning that there are two main groups that I have to work to please. The first group, the preschool and child care teachers, are over worked and under paid for the most part. Many of which are quiet under educated for that matter. However, what many of our teachers lack in education, they make up for in experience. This leads me to the big question often debated in the realm of early childhood education. What's more important: education or experience? I argue that the ideal early childhood teacher would have a combination of both.

The second group of individuals that I have to please are the parents. Of course , the children are the main "customers" when working in the field of early childhood, but these are not the folks who say, "yeah" or "neigh" when it comes to attending the childcare center. Where the delicate balance and struggle occurs is when I try to please both parties. Despite both parties wanting to champion for children and are essentially present because of children, both parties find themselves disagreeing at times about what's best for the children. And this--well, it leaves me in the middle.


So, that brings me to my next point. I'm learning that a lot of my job is recruitment. I either am recruiting children for the center or I am recruiting staff for the center. Currently, the focus is on the recruitment of staff. We are short four teachers at this point and, really, I could stand to hire at least two extra "float" teachers to be used for subbing or days off. Why my employer has never had a sub list is a mystery to me.

I've recently interviewed a very promising hire only to hear that the wage we were offering was not high enough. She almost had an Associate's degree completed, yes, but she did not have the course work to qualify for EC 1 or EC 2 in the state of WI. Therefore, she couldn't be offered anymore than barely above our minimum rate, which is within the "normal" range for assistant teachers. I was unable to offer her any more and I lost a potentially great employee.

One could argue that because she wouldn't take the offer given, she didn't really want the job as a teacher. However, all workers should get to enjoy a fair wage. I don't believe any one is expecting millions here, just something fair. It's a sad state when the people who flip hamburgers make more than those who are taking care of human beings.

As a new director, I am longing to find out how I can recruit high quality teachers in an industry that refuses to pay it's employees the amount that they're really worth. I've been doing some research and I'm going to post some additional links here. Maybe you have some ideas for me! What has worked for you in your centers? How do you hire great employees?



Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm hoping to speak at. . . .

My proposal is written! I'm hoping that I'll be selected to speak at the 2008 WECA Early Childhood Conference. I'm hoping to present on the importance of play and the elementary school skills it helps to develop. I also want to discuss how teachers can support play within their classrooms. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I'm planning on attending the 2008 Whitewater Early Childhood Conference and I'm hoping that I'll get to speak at this one next year. This year, they will be having lots of presentations regarding leadership and management. I'm hoping that these will be helpful as I get into the swing of things with my leadership role at work.

Speaking of work, things are going pretty well. I am so short teachers and hiring is a big priority right now. I'm having a tough time wrapping my mind around how to recruit staff other than the traditional methods. Advertisements are in the local papers, advertising up to 45 minutes away. I'm working to get into the local technical college to speak in some classes, but I'm not sure where else to go.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Power of Play

Play is important. I have known this in my heart from day one in my journey as a teacher. Now, finally, there is documentation and support for my "wacky" idea on the importance of play. Currently, NPR is doing a series on how play is important for building the skill of self-regulation, which is now being deemed a more important indicator of school success than IQ. A wonderful article about the connection between ADHD and self-regulation can be found at Sharp Brains.

There is an ever growing movement of Early Childhood Teachers fighting for play within their preschools and childcare centers. Lisa Murphy, the Ooey Gooey Lady, is one of them. I had the privilege of hearing her speak at the 2007 NAEYC National Conference and I will be looking for her at the 2008 conference!

The fight for play:
Einstein Never Used Flash Cards
The Power of Play
A Place of Our Own
Importance of Play
Alliance for Childhood
Young Children Need Play
Why Play?
Play is the Business of Kids
Are you giving your children the freedom to play?
The importance of FREE PLAY
More on play

Challening behavior

This was my first week at my new position. It went pretty well considering I managed to make some teachers feel threatened and upset. By the end of the week, it was all worked out and things should be fine at this point. The issue at hand was over challenging behavior and what to do with it.

My views are a little different than some regarding behavior. Most of my views about behavior stem from my work with children with Autism. While working on my teaching degree, I was NEVER taught how to proactively handle behavior that is out of the norm. I was taught how to react to this behavior but wasn't really taught how to "figure a kid out" and determine why he or she behaving in a disruptive manner.

This skill came with my work in two different programs for children with children with Autism. One program used lots of behavior modification techniques, however this program never worked to understand the function of the behavior. The other program I worked at used more of a Positive Behavior Support Method, which works to understand WHY the behavior is occurring in the first place.

Because I have had experience with both of these techniques, I feel uniquely qualified to handle a variety of situations regarding behavior. Unfortunately, the advice that I had to offer was not what the teachers wanted to hear. Part of this stemmed from the misunderstanding about how much classroom experience I had. Also, the teachers were not aware of my previous experiences working with children who were displaying "challenging" behavior.

Next week will be better!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Tomorrow is the big day!

Tomorrow is the first day with my new role as a Center Director. I'm a little nervous and a little excited at the same time. I'm counting down the days until I get to present at the Stout conference and I'm working on developing my own online course. Thanks for the tip, VP. Also, check out my other blog, Play for Life, to see some neat-o children's art work.