Boosting Staff Morale in Your Childcare CenterOct 08, 2017
As a director (or teacher) in a child care center, it is easy to get lost in the day-to-day tasks that have to be accomplished immediately, and you may notice that as you become increasingly overwhelmed and stressed that your staff morale will decrease at the same rate. What can we do to stop this? We know that keeping our staff happy and working together is the key to giving our students a great start in life, but how can that be accomplished when your desk is overrun with paperwork and your life feels like a rerun of Groundhog Day, in a childcare setting?
Keeping your staff morale high starts with you, director! And although this might seem like it puts even more pressure on you to get yet another thing done throughout the day, making just a few small changes can make a big difference.
1. Take Care of Yourself First! – This does not mean that you have to ignore the needs of everyone around you, and this is not something that even has to take place in the work environment, but we all know that if our needs are not being met we can become more easily overwhelmed and that negative energy transfers to those around us. Some ideas? Write down 5 things that make you feel at peace and try to do one of them each day. Make them as much of a priority as the mountain of paperwork on your desk. Watch a silly movie, go for a run, turn off your computer and phone and sit and watch your kids play for an hour, pick up a new coffee blend and sip it slowly…even just 20 minutes of doing something relaxing to YOU can bring your head back to a place of joy.
2. Remember why you started – We know it is not for the prestige, and it is definitely not for the money, so why did you go into Early Childhood Education? Most likely, it is the kids. The smiles, the giggles, the “aha!” moments when they finally figure out how to tie their shoes by themselves, and all of those sweet hugs full of warmth and love. This week, when you are sitting behind your desk trying to make sure all the details of your center are running smoothly, take a break. Go see the kids. Take 10 minutes and sit on the floor and watch them play. Sing with them, watch them learn, and remember that what you are doing is more than just being a manager, you are creating and shaping new life.
3. Create a Community – Life would be a lot easier if we could just hire a bunch of people, throw them in a room together all day and never have to worry about anything else, but in real life, everyone has bad days, off days, days when you come to work and you want to give up before the kids even get there, and that negative energy can transfer easily into a work environment that becomes hostile. Start by making sure that everyone always has a chance to be heard and to express their concerns in an environment where they know they are being listened to. Turn your staff meetings into fun events by making them into themed potlucks, or incorporate a yoga session for relaxation and focus into your time together. Not everyone in your center will automatically become best friends but when you actively foster a sense of community and relationship between your staff members (and yourself) you will be giving them a work environment that they will never want to leave!
4. Never stop growing – As educators that work with small children, we know that life’s challenges push us to grow, learn and become more resilient. If we allowed our students to give up the first time they tried to cut with scissors, what would we be teaching them! The same idea applies to us as teachers and as directors. It can be very tempting to follow the same lesson plans year after year after year, and if you have been teaching for more than a decade this can cause you to lose focus and motivation.
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Make a commitment to yourself this year to challenge yourself! Take some new classes, read more books, find something that another director is doing that inspires you and make it happen! This is also a great opportunity to encourage your staff to try new things. Research new ideas and new ways of communication and development for their age group and come up with group plans on how we can all use this very minute to help our students be the best they can be. Never stop learning!
I hope that you will take the time to put some of these plans into action; remember, building community in our childcare centers starts with us!
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