Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The things I have learned in the past two and a half months!

I'm almost to my third month as a Preschool Center Director. I've learned a significant amount and I've made some mistakes along the way. Some what I've learned has come from the observations from moving from one employer to a new employer and some has been through my own mistakes as a new director.
  • Be an excellent listener. I'm a talker. What I've learned in my first few months is that I need to push my listening skills to a new level. This is something that I actively need to do every day and, I'll be honest, can be a challenge. If you do not have excellent listening skills, start working on them.
  • Know your day care regulations,staff, and parent hand books. I live in the state of Wisconsin. My regulations can be found here. Not only is it imperative that one spend time reading and understanding these, it is also important to understand how your licenser, staff, and parents will interpret the information found in these works. Be prepared to explain to any one of these individuals how what you are doing is with in compliance of your state regulations, staff, or parent handbooks. If you're able to do this, it will save you some headache in the future. Also, make sure that what your staff are telling parents matches what is in your parent hand book. This seems to be a "no brainer," however, the center where I'm at currently has some inconsistencies. As a new director, I'm put in a very sticky situation when the messages being conveyed to parents contradict the messages being conveyed in our parent handbook.
  • If your center does not have them already, please develop clear policies and procedures. This will cut down on confusion and make the hiring of new staff much easier. In addition, this will make your staff training clear-cut and will ensure that staff are "on the same page" with the messages that are being conveyed to parents.
  • You can't make everyone happy, so stop trying right away! I'm not saying don't strive for excellence. Do. Be the best Director you can be. I'm saying, don't try and please everyone at one time. There will never be a single situation where everyone; parents, staff, the administration team, or the governing board; will be happy.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Make yourself unique

From Child Care Exchange: A little advice that I could use, so I thought I would share it.

One of the resources in Exchange's Center Manager's Tool Kit is a CD collection of Exchange articles on "Avoiding Burnout." Included on this CD is the article "Go For the Gusto — Put Zest Back In Your Job," which offers this advice on making yourself unique...

"Joyce Brothers, writing on the factors of success in business in How to Get What You Want Out of Life (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), observed, 'The more you can bring more than one facet or talent to a job, the greater your probability of success. You can make yourself unique. You can work to acquire a cluster of skills that no one else has.'

"Think abou t what excites you about your job and about your life outside the job. What are your prime skills? What other professional challenges interest you? Can you combine your current skills and interests into a unique and rewarding career?

"If, for example, you have mastered the tasks involved in administering a child care center, and now you find yourself increasingly intrigued by computers, maybe you can build a business out of helping child care centers enter the computer age. If your strongest suit is the marketing of your organization, maybe you could set up a marketing service for a network of centers.

"Overhaul your work day. Keep an appointment book with you for several days, logging in what you are doing every 15 minutes. Now take a close look at how your time is allocated. During what amount of your workday are you called upon to exercise your strongest professional skills? How much of your time is spent handling mundane clerical or administrative tasks that could just as well be handled by a lesser-trained individual? How much of your time is devoted to evaluation, development, and innovation? How much of it is consumed by maintenance activities and fire fighting? How much of your time is deliberately planned by yourself? How much is controlled by others through phone calls and drop-in visits?

"Now take a stab at fantasizing your ideal work day. How much time would you spend on reading and writing? How much time would you allocate to talking with your staff? When would you come in to work and when would you go home? How would you put your peak performance times to best use? How can you bridge the gap between how you really spend your time and how you know you should?"