When I was an assistant director at W.E.E. School, the director, other assistant director, and I met weekly for staff meetings. One week, we found ourselves discussing how many new staff members we had and how the problems we’d had with long-time staffers were really very basic. We were actually doing things fairly well at the time, but we knew we had room for improvement in just the plain old basics of licensed, ministerial childcare. We had an annual, center-wide training day coming up and Back to the Basics was developed for that day. This was not designed to be pre-service, but to build upon many of the things covered in pre-service. It was developed specifically for our center, but, because it is about the basics, it is easily customized to individual centers.
I begin every training by telling about myself–giving people a reason to think I know what I’m talking about! In this training, I also begin by talking about the power of laughter. It is something I am seriously considering adding to the beginning of every training.
Then, before we talk about what needs to be improved, I talk about what the staff is already doing well and, when I was speaking as an assistant director, telling them how much I appreciated what they did. The director is welcome to do this part of the training, or (s)he can give me specific things to say.
Then we discuss things that need improvement. The entire premise of Back to the Basics is that if you are doing the basics well, then the rest is easy. So the things that need to improve are rather, well, basic. We also discuss making small corrections that make big impacts both here and later in the training. I made a handout that looks like 6 puzzle pieces put together and ask attendees to write one “C” in each piece. Then, as I continue, I invite them to make notes on that page if they were note-taking kind of people.
I continue by talking about the real bottom line. That we are a ministry, we are supposed to love on kids, but that we have rules and regulations to abide by. We also talk about parent expectations (using an excerpt from our Parent Handbook when I did this as an assistant director, this is something that will be customized for you!). We segue nicely from there into “Rule Makers and Regulators.” This will also be customized to your situation.
We then talk about the importance of reading the Staff and Parent Handbooks, asking questions, and actually doing what is in the handbook! From there, we move into Creating a Christian Environment, with an emphasis on cutting out the drama. There is an activity with verses and I talk about how small corrections will actually create a huge impact.
The next slide is a graphic (below) with many suggestions of how to Create a Christian Environment, including a short, funny clip about professionalism and examples of several of the suggestions. There is also an activity about “fairness” and differentiation.
There are a couple more slides on Christian environment and then we talk about discipline. This is an area where I can get very soapbox-y but I reign myself in by answering the questions “who, what, when, where, why, and how.” To answer the “how” I use excerpts from the Parent and Staff Handbooks. Again, this can be customized for your situation, or I can use the original excerpts. Linked to discipline are incident reports and event sampling. I preach using incident reports for any incident that harms a child, whether it is “reportable” to the state or not. I also preach that each child involved should get a report (ie the biter and the bitee). The Event Sampling is for repeated behaviors. This can be customized to your center’s procedures and I would like for each attendee to have an example of each sheet while we discuss them. We also talk about observation and what it means–such as only write down what you heard or saw, not your feelings or interpretations of what you heard/saw.
Then we talk about Curriculum. I am most familiar with the W.E.E. Learn Curriculum and that is what the lesson plans I have are designed for. But I will obviously customize this to your center and will be happy to tell you how wonderful W.E.E. Learn is! We will talk about the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the curriculum, sparking the next slides about lesson plans, room arrangement, room atmosphere, and schedule. We talk about things that need to be posted or known, such as allergy/alert lists, birthdays, daily report sheets (and an awesome way to conveniently do daily report sheets that also tells you at a glance a. who your youngest and oldest is, b. their ages, and c. how many are present–basically the questions licensing always asks!), and anything else to be posted. Again, I want the attendees to have these papers in front of them while we are talking about them!
Next, I talk about a few things that are required at W.E.E. School, the center for which I originally designed this training, but that are good practices for everywhere: the welcome packet, the sub folder, and the transitioning child packet. I continue the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” questions for these two subjects, devoting a whole slide to the “how” of each.
We then will talk about communication and end with a goal setting activity.
In the original training, the director used the last few minutes to talk about fire drills and a couple things she wanted to stress. I think this is a great practice, especially in a place where I am not on staff and invite you, the director, to do this! If the director prefers, (s)he can give me these points to cover, but I think it is powerful coming from the director.
Don’t forget the option of having a “practical” training to put the Back to the Basics 6 Cs into action! (Read about this option on the Portfolio page.)
If you are interested in me coming to teach your teachers using this training, please visit the Contact page. If you want to see my fees before contacting me, please visit the Rates page. If you would like to comment on or ask questions about this particular training, please use the comment box below. I look forward to hearing from you!