Top 3 Takeaways from a Leadership Conference
We talk about professional development for teachers and administrators – but what does that look like? After my recent return from the 2016 Leadership Connections National Conference in Chicago, I decided to share some of what I learned. The Conference included speakers, trainers, and breakout skill-building sessions in the field of early childhood education.
Here Are My Top 3 Takeaways:
- Keep Communication Clear and Ongoing: as a leader in childcare and early childhood education, one of my key jobs is to clearly communicate our program goals to the teachers. They need to hear regularly that their job is important – children have a limited time to be children. One of the figures I heard at the conference stuck with me: “From the day they are born to the day they start Kindergarten, children have 2000 days.” That sounds like a lot of time – and then not at all. Children do spend an enormous amount of time with us, and the teachers’ impact on them is huge. Our job is to best nurture children at this crucial time of development.
- Continue to Develop Individual Professional Development Plans: Ongoing training is important, to hone their skills, stay on top of what’s happening in the field, and to feed the teachers’ innate need to be motivated and inspired by others who also work in education. Did you know that teachers are required to participate in 20 hours of professional development training a year? They take classes in things like classroom management, time management, positive workplace culture, curriculum development and brain development, to name a few.
- Nurture the Teachers so They Can Nurture the Children: At the core of my beliefs as a leader and director is that you have to take care of yourself and “fill up your tank”, in order to be at your best and do your best job in the classroom. In our program, I talk to my staff about doing things to nurture themselves. I believe in being honest, and I truly believe that taking care of my teachers pays dividends in the classroom: which is where it counts.
To pull all of this together, I came back from this conference with renewed energy to continue working on improving our culture and making sure that I fill up my tank – and that I keep an eye out to be sure my teachers are doing the same. Everyone is part of our culture – and our priority is to create that nurturing environment for children when they are with us.