How To Fire Up Your Childcare Center Staff

Igniting excitement and community in your school for the next semester — FIRE UP YOUR STAFF!!

Whether you are a student or a teacher, there is something about the beginning of the term or school year that is special. The smell of new crayons with their sharp points and pristine boxes. The fresh sets of playdough. New lunch boxes. A clean, well-stocked teachers’ lounge. This clean slate of newness and freshness is an exciting time for childcare providers and educators alike. It is the anticipation of a fantastic year..

It is also a beginning. It always involves change. Change in staff. Change in assignments. Change in students. And sometimes that change is challenging. However, you have the ability to make this change exciting. You can keep the newness and freshness that comes with a new term alive by building community among the change. You have the ability to FIRE UP! your staff and make all the difference for this new year.

Building community takes a bit of simple planning on your part, but this bit of planning will pay huge dividends. You wear every hat in the house: administrator, teacher, mentor, nurse, accountant. Yet the hat of cheerleader is likely the most important hat you wear, especially at the beginning of the year, when it comes to your staff. Your energy, excitement and vision are contagious. You’re leading the way and lighting the spark to get your staff fired up for the year head! Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

1. CREATE A THEME

Create a theme for the year. This common theme across various age groups, varying staff seniority, and different personal interests among the staff provides a level playing field. It gives everyone something in common. Examples include (but are limited only by your imagination):

We Stick Together!

Cactus-themed items are everywhere these days. Gift each teacher a small succulent.

(Pre)School Is Cool!

Being a child care provider is never boring, and neither are our teachers. Be cool!

Aim For The Best!

Setting big goals for the year? This is the perfect theme. Give out Target gift cards!

“Bee” Kind!

For a year that promises to keep everyone busy as a bee — a theme will help everyone remember to stay sweet as honey!

Shine Bright!

Whether you want to encourage ideas, transparency, smiles & laughter, or just to keep everyone focused on a bright future!

Saddle Up For Success!

Encourage friendly greetings, partners, and pioneering new solutions with this theme straight out of the Old West!

The idea here is that you go all in with your theme for the year. Staff shirts reflect the theme. Bulletin boards reflect the theme. Your website and newsletters reflect the theme. It is something that permeates the entire organization from the staff to the students to the parents. You can build a logo around it or just identify and use some graphics that support your theme. Ultimately, you want to create a theme that is both inspiring and fun. It builds commUNITY among your staff, as well as your students.

2. HOST A CHILDCARE STAFF RETREAT

It is rare that you and your staff can steal away for a half or full day of in-service or training; however, it is vital to the success of your school year to do just that. Whether you host it at your school or find a great place in your local community, find a venue with lots of comfortable seating and set aside time to talk about:
  • Successes from years past
  • Goals for the upcoming year, and
  • Measurements for success
Any easy way to visually do this and to include everyone in the process is the use of sticky notes. Have the staff write down at least one response to each of the 3 bullets above. On a large piece of bulletin board paper tacked to the wall and divided into the three labeled sections above, have them place their sticky notes in each of the respective sections. Then, discuss as a group. If you have your own ideas that you want them to lean towards, be sure to include those on your own sticky notes. This experience gives you good feedback from your returning or veteran team members as well as sets the stage for your expectations of the staff during the upcoming year. Ultimately, they need to know how their own success is measured so they can identify areas in which they need to grow during the year. You can also use this time for some important team building. The CEO of the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and Forbes contributor, Brian Scudamore, agrees that “team building is the most important investment you can make for your people. It builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication, and increases collaboration.” It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but it should encourage laughter, be inspiring, and create a memory that can later turn into an inside joke among staff members or just continue to foster community among your team. Here are a few resources online with some quick and easy team building ideas: Some of these activities might even be worthy of after school programs teachers are doing with their kids to create the after-school community for the older kids. The ultimate goal, whether for staff or students, is to focus on shared experiences and community. 

3. LEAD BY EXAMPLE, BECAUSE IT STARTS AT THE TOP

Regardless of how you fire up your staff for a new year, ultimately, that fire only stays lit if you, as the leader, continue to stoke it. If your excitement and energy dwindle, so too will your staff’s. It sounds cliché, but the truth is that you do have to lead by example. You can easily do that by:

Keep The Theme Alive!

  • Incorporate it into everything you send out.
  • Dress up like a character that would be associated with your theme.
  • Create a staff award that mirrors the theme and give it out once a week/month.

Encourage Your Staff At Every Turn

  • Include humor (when you can) that reminds people of the retreat to continue to foster the relationships and memories built there.
  • Recognize good behavior verbally and publicly in staff meetings.
  • Have special treats in the break area/lounge at least once a month.

Be The Kind Of Change You Want To See

  • Be kinder than required to a challenging parent.
  • Go the extra mile for a family or staff member in need.
  • Act immediately whenever there is conflict within your building regardless of whether it is student or staff related.

Excitement is contagious! People are drawn to those who are on fire for something. Your staff will be so excited for the new term with just a few simple things that foster community, build relationships and make your school a positive place for everyone!

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