The Management Blueprint -Team Work

Welcome to the Management Blueprint!


Program management is one of the most time consuming jobs in early childhood education. If things go great, you get the praise. If things go horribly wrong, you get the blame. In this course we will explore ways in which you can develop a plan for success. Join me as we navigate The Management Blueprint.










Set Expectations & Consequences

In A Perfect World...

...all of your staff would come into your program knowing exactly what to do in every situation, but this isn't a perfect world. Teachers and other center staff need guidance and clear expectations in order to function in a way that meets your needs as a leader, as well as the needs of children and families. So how do you accomplish this?

Know what you want, and Clearly Express it to Center Staff. 

You can clarify your expectations and convey it to staff in a few different ways, such as:

-A staff handbook

-One-on-One conferences

-Staff meetings

A few examples 

-Staff is expected to be on time for work daily, meaning in their workspace and ready to get started, not walking in the door or in the parking lot at that time.

-Staff is expected to be prepared for their work day through completing lesson plans, and having materials out and ready to go before they leave on the previous day.

-Staff is expected to use positive guidance and discipline (or whatever your discipline plan is) consistently. 

-Staff accountability: "If I have discussed it at a staff meeting, sent it in an email, or had a face-to-face conversation about it, you are responsible for knowledge of it, and follow through."

-Staff is expected to provide active supervision of students, meaning stay in proximity of the students and engaged with them while scanning the room/play area to keep an eye on all students in the area.

*Staff should not be on cell phones talking or texting while supervising children.

*Staff should not be having personal conversations with each other instead of conversations with children.

*Staff should not have their back turned to students, but rather should always stand in a position where he/she can see the whole group at a glance.

What do you Want?

What are the things that are most important for the success of your program? Take a few minutes to write down the items that are most important to you and how you have, or will covey that information to center staff.

Expectations & Consequences

Most people will function better in an environment where there are clear rules and expectations in place. It is important that all team members are held to the same standard, and that if your expectations are not met, there are clear consequences in place to help enforce them. 

Once you have given your expectations, what will be your action plan if you need to enforce them? My suggestion would be the initial communication of expectations, followed by a verbal warning, followed by a written notice, followed by a corrective action plan, followed by..

Find out what your company's policies are in such instances, and if you are a business owner and don't yet have clear policies in place, take some time to think about it. Here is a sample Employee Warning Notice.

Employee Warning Notice

Provide the Necessary Support

Think About It

Who's the Boss?

Think about your own career. What were the characteristics of the leader you liked most? What were the characteristics of the leader you like least?

Supporting Program Staff

The support or lack of support you show to program staff can make the difference between a mediocre leader and a great leader. Time-and-time again, I've seen child care administrators hire teachers, throw them in a classroom and tell them to teach. They expect a stellar classroom without having provided any guidance, support and sometimes, they haven't even provided supplies for the classroom. This is not conducive to success. So what are some ways you can provide support to program staff?

Step in as Needed

-Speak to your team with the same level of respect that you expect in return. Be firm when necessary, and fair always. 

-Be willing to jump in to help! Step into the classroom and help out when you notice a teacher overwhelmed. 

-If a teacher is working alone, check-in periodically to see if she needs a restroom break.

-Do what it takes to get the job done, even if the job is dirty. When your team sees you do things like mop the floors, clean the restroom or take out the trash, they will be happy to follow your lead, and to step up as necessary to get things done.

Watch this video for more awesome tips on what shared and supportive leadership looks like in any environment.

Who do you want to be?

Maximize Strengths

A part of leadership is knowing how to maximize the strengths of your team members. As a program manager, there were times when I noticed that certain staff just were not a good fit for their current position. 

Instead of leaving things as they were, I had to do what was best for the program --which sometimes meant making changes. For example, I had a teacher (Teacher 1) who was paired with a rowdy group of students, and no matter what she tried, the students just would not listen to her. 

I took an inventory of my staff's strengths, and decided to place Teacher 2 in that class, because I knew she could handle it. Teacher 1 was subsequently placed with a group that better fit her personality and teaching style.

In the end, both the teachers and students were happy with the decision, and it boosted the morale of Teacher 1, as she was no longer feeling overwhelmed. 

Every staff member has a strength,  and it is in your best interest to know those strengths and use them  in the areas where they are most needed. 

Be Open to Feedback

Stay Open! 

Yes, you are the leader. And yes, you know what you're doing. But... if you're hoping to build an environment of high morale and teamwork, your employees need to feel valued. A part of feeling valued is feeling heard. So, ask for feedback or suggestions. 

You can ask for feedback in staff meetings, one-on-one meetings, through a suggestion box, etc. Of course, there will be some things that cannot, and will not change for various reasons, but your team may have great ideas that actually improve the program!

Allow them the opportunity to feel like their opinions matter, and they will thank you for it. 

Warning! There will be employees who use this opportunity as a gripe session, and that's ok too. Maybe all she/he needs is to vent out frustrations. As a leader, hear them out and explain why things are the way they are, and why they can't change. Or, if it's a sensible suggestion that's within your power to change, then consider doing that.

Always think about the type of leader you would want to work for, and strive to become that leader yourself!