A hard lesson I have learned very recently is that our on-boarding process for new lead teachers is terrible. In the twelve years I have worked at this center, we had hired all of our lead teachers from within the organization. When a lead teacher retired, or quit, we would promote an assistant teacher who had a good understanding of the policies and procedures of our center. This system has always worked well for our program, until recently. For the first time in the history of my employment at the center, we hired 2 lead teachers who came from different centers. It soon became painfully obvious that we had almost no process for on-boarding in these situations. We offered an initial orientation that covered the basic policies and procedures that every employee receives, regardless of their position, and a multitude of training opportunities on developmentally appropriate practice, child guidance, nutrition, challenging behaviors, 1st aide, CPR, and many more. However, there was no procedure in place to introduce new teachers requirements specific to the lead teacher position such as lesson planning requirements, annual events, newsletters, our expectations on classroom environment, their role as a mentor to assistants and aides, etc..
When you have worked somewhere for a long period of time, there are things that you forget that you also had to learn at one point. Things become so routine, that you forget that someone new may not have the information, or that it is something you have to teach. For example, our center holds an annual event called pancake breakfast day. Teachers are told when the event will be held and what the general expectations are. However, there are small details that are forgotten about that are necessary the teacher knows in order for the event to be successful. Invitations to families are created and distributed by each individual teacher, the center provides the pancakes, but the teachers are expected to ask parents to bring other supplies such as sausage, milk, fruit, plates, napkins, etc., tables and chairs need to be set up in their classrooms to accommodate the parents, and the teachers are expected to mingle and interact with their parents during the event.
Our center is now working on creating a comprehensive on-boarding process for new teachers that will include at minimum a binder with all of the requirements listed in detail, as well as a separate orientation specific to lead teachers. What strategies does your center use in the on-boarding process? Comment below with any ideas or questions. I look forward to hearing from you!