Are you a good Lead Teacher? The answer will, of course, depend on who you ask. The major stakeholders here, who decide whether a Lead Teacher is “good” or not, are the Director, parents, owner, children, and your fellow teachers. If all five are asked the question whether or not you are a good teacher, and they all say, “YES!”, then you are probably not a good Lead Teacher – you are a great Lead Teacher. It is challenging, but definitely possible, to please all five. Here, we will suggest how you might do that?
First, though, some background on children and their brains. Early Education is a critical part of the development of a child. At this young age, the tiny brain is developing – and fast! Billions of neurons are building connections (synapses) with other neurons – connections that will determine what the child will finally be “good” at. This brain development continues through puberty and beyond, of course, but the majority of brain development and synaptic development occurs in the first 6 years of life (for more detailed reading please see Welcome to Your Child’s Brain by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang, 2011, Bloomsbury, USA, NY). As teachers of these children, you have one of the most important jobs in society – shaping the next generation.
What makes a good teacher? That depends on who you ask, so we will answer this question from various perspectives. From the teacher’s own perspective, he/she should have a great degree of pride and responsibility in shaping the next generation. Satisfaction of having done a “great” job teaching his/her children the right concepts at the right time – so that synaptic development is optimal – will determine whether a teacher is a “good.”
From the Director’s/Owner’s perspective, there a several other things to add to the definition of a good teacher. Of course, teaching the right concepts at the right time is important. In addition, however, the Director’s/Owner’s priority is to run a center efficiently, so they would describe a good teacher as one that also comes on time, doesn’t linger around to accumulate unnecessary overtime, generates no complaints from parents, and follows center policies diligently. These are not hard to do at all, yet it is surprising how many teachers do come late (yes, even five minutes makes a huge difference!), linger around, and violate center policies all the time (cell phone usage in classroom is a big one – ask yourself, would you like your child to be taken care of by a teacher who is on his/her cell phone all the time?).
From the parent’s point of view, a good teacher is one that communicates to them what their child did or accomplished all day. Put yourself in the parent’s shoes. You have been working all day and have let someone else (the Teacher) take care of the MOST VALUABLE thing in their life. When they pick up the love of their life, they are eager to know what happened to him/her all day long. If, however, you don’t even acknowledge their presence, let alone tell them what their child did all day, they will be very disappointed and sad. They will also think that you are not a good teacher. Which, in most cases, is not true. You have been taking care of their child – playing and teaching him all day long! But, the parents don’t know that! They only know what you tell them. And it is up to you to make sure that all your hard work is recognized and appreciated – and the only way to do that is to communicate, communicate, communicate! Tell the parents what happened during the day. You don’t need to give a 10-minute speech. Even just one anecdote and how he/she did overall (had a great day, had a challenging day, had a regular day) is all that is required to make parents happy and to make them appreciate the hard work you put in all day.
Lastly, from your colleague’s perspective. Please be considerate! If you call out at the last minute, guess who has to cover you? Your colleagues! They might have other plans, or might have to tend to a sick child, or a sick parent, and may need to leave on time. But, now, you have called out and they have to stay over. If you come in 45 minutes late, again, guess who has to cover for you? You got it! Your colleagues – and they will not be happy with you.
All of this may seem difficult, but it really isn’t. Just a little bit of diligence (e.g. wake up 5 minutes earlier so you are not late!), hard work (e.g. teach as if the future of your country depends on it – because it does!), and consideration (e.g. don’t call out one hour before your shift starts!) will take you a long way in this industry, and will not only endear you to your Director, Owner, Colleagues, and Parents, but will also set you up for rapid promotions to Assistant Director and/or Director (if that is what you want to do). Teaching and taking care of children is hard work but very rewarding if done well.