Practice What We Teach: Principles for Providing Support Across Multiple Centers
By Maya Yatom, Curriculum and Training Specialist
Back to School time is coming soon. We’ll be hearing the buzz of kids both excited and nervous about their new classrooms, parents excited to get back to routine and nervous about their children’s new experiences, and of course, teachers anticipating a new group of children and new classroom dynamics.
In the months prior to all this exciting buzz, the Curriculum Team at Early Learning Academies (ELA) have been creating our own buzz as we work to create, organize, align, and edit all the materials our early childhood education teachers and administrators will need as they begin a new school.
One of the things that makes ELA centers stand out is that each one is so different. Unlike many other corporate childcare organizations, ELA centers have their own look and feel. The heart of every center is based in its community, not in headquarters, all the while sharing the same vision and approach. Our curriculum is emergent and child led. Our teachers can shine with their personalities and personal strength, and every year looks different as the children in the classroom are different.
The role of the curriculum team in this vision is to give teachers the tools they need to find their voice, whether it’s their first year on the job or their twentieth. It’s to support teachers when facing different challenges in the classroom and to prepare the classroom as a safe space for all learners as well as supporting administration teams as they lead their teams.
How can this be accomplished? How do you drive a coherent message across 76 childcare centers across the country, sitting at the heart of different communities and facing different challenges? These are our guiding principles:
- Listen: Spend time listening to the wonderful educators running centers and classrooms. Listen to the needs and challenges of center staff and put these front and center. A request from the field is prioritized gets bumped to the top of the task list.
- Care: All materials we create are led by our Core Values. We stay current on research and training, adapt our materials to be inclusive and carve out a space for all children to learn and thrive reaching kindergarten readiness with the best social emotional and academic foundation possible.
- Excitement: We love what we do and share the excitement through training and various means of communication provided by ELA, such as internal news feeds, newsletters, and so much more. Harnessing the excitement and sharing the great work done by the wonderful staff at the different centers across the country helps keep everyone engaged and brings more creative ideas for everyone to enjoy.
- Pushing each other forward: We work together to critique the materials and push each other to improve through the same positive support we expect the teachers to provide in the classroom. As a team, you can push each other forward and improve together or ignore issues and lower the quality of the products. We seek each other out for advice, offer support, and give feedback as needed.
- Breaking down silos: By sharing knowledge and skills between the different departments we can all bring our best work to the table. Working in collaboration with operations, marketing, and HR, we can all do a better job serving the childcare center staff and giving them the best support to focus on the needs of the children and families in their care.
It may seem natural to teach children to listen to each other, to work as a team, to be proud of the work they do, and to speak openly about their own strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps it is time that we all practice what we teach!