Leading with Intention
- What is the program’s mission?
Talk about the vision and the values of your centre every time you have the chance. Review your core values in staff meetings. Remind your team members why they want to work here. Empower your staff and give them many reasons to come into work - other than a paycheck.
- Protect your centre’s culture.
What’s you’re the program’s reputation? Is it a fun place to work? Is it a place where people are fearful of your leadership style? Are people intimidated by me? Are staff encouraged to professionally develop? Do your people feel empowered and professional? You need to be aware. You need to get your finger on the pulse of the program and find out what your employees like (or dislike) about your leadership and the overall culture.
- How do you influence others?
Your team members will feed off your emotions and outlook. If you’re constantly worried and talking about the bottom line, your team might panic about their job security. If you show confidence, your team will pick up on that. If you’re willing to take chances, they’ll feel more freedom to follow your lead. That’s when the real fun begins!
- The buck stops here.
It’s easy to be a leader when everything is going great. The true mark of a leader is admitting failure/mistakes. When you say, “I messed up” and figure out a way to fix it, you earn the respect of your team members. People follow authentic leaders; be an authentic leader.
- Give constructive and useful feedback.
Make sure you’re helping people improve their practice and not just tearing them down
- · Role model the behaviour you wish to see
- · Show appreciation for hard work.
- · Say thank you. Write notes of gratitude.
- · Let them know when they’ve done well. Tell them, “Great job” and be specific about what you liked
As leaders, our work is so busy, all day long and sometimes forget the small things and miss out on opportunities to really connect with our team.
- We work together.
Think about that. You don’t own anybody! That’s important to remember because a lot of people get caught up in the power and control game, and nothing good happens when you do that. When you treat people with respect, you’re earning their loyalty.
- What is the most important?
You will not get ahead by micromanaging your team and failing to trust that others can do the work just as well as you can. Delegate tasks and take some stuff off your plate. List all the things you think you need to do. Then delegate what you can, and then get rid of the junk that doesn’t lead to progress. Do not allow the small details to derail your progress.
- You need to get uncomfortable.
The best way to unravel your work is to use the following words: “We’ve never done it that way before.” Who cares? Great leaders are always looking for new ideas. Nothing will change if you stop moving forward. Challenge yourself to take that next step—even when it’s uncomfortable. Your team will find their courage and be inspired by you.
- Think before you speak.
Napoleon Hill once said, “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” You will be hard pressed to find an amazing leader who owes their success to jumping to conclusions, flying off the handle or failing to think about how they were going to frame their response to a situation.
Intentional leadership isn’t an overnight change. It’s a methodology that develops and grows every day. You are the beacon for your team to move forward and embrace positive change in the workplace. You inspire them and they willingly move forward with you.
Outdoor Springtime Activities for Infants and Toddlers
Puddle Jumpers: Pull those boots on and let the children jump in rain puddles, or collect raindrops in a watering can to be used on a sunny day.
Have a Picnic: Spread out a comfy blanket in your play yard and allow the children to nosh on a cracker. Make sure you have warm, wet cloths for hand wiping.
Go Fly a Kite: Whether you create your own, or buy one, this activity is a delight and exercises baby’s long-distance vision.
Bugs in a Jar: All you need are your hands, a jar or bug box, and then watch these amazing bugs. The children will be focused on these little creatures.
Plant a garden, bulbs, or seeds: Show your toddlers how to dig, plant, water and nurture plants. Love and respect for nature is a gift for many children!
Pictures in the Clouds: What shapes, animals or other interesting things can the toddlers see in the clouds? Lay in the grass and look up or stop during your walks. Check Cloud in the Sky out of the local library and bring it into your classroom.
Go for a Nature Walk: Wrap a piece of masking tape around each child’s wrist with the sticky side facing out. The children will love to pick up little bits of nature and wear them home as bracelets.
Make Mud Pies! What baby or toddler doesn’t love a good, muddy pie—with mud-caked hands to boot! Give them bowls, spoons and mud and then observe the complex learning taking place.
Outdoor Yoga: Bring mats or towels outside and hold a yoga class in the sunshine for your toddlers! For the infants or non walkers, they can enjoy some outdoor tummy time.
What Does Gardening Teach Us?
Research is encouraging educators to take more and more of our programming outside. Many of us play with the idea of gardening a little with our children. It might seem like a lot of work, but the payoff for the children’s development is great! Gardening with children provides the perfect combination of skills and tasks to address each child’s development. Any of us who enjoy gardening in our free time can attest to the fact that it is a great physical activity.
Some of the gross motor skills children learn while gardening is: locomotor skills, body management skills and object control skills while they move from one place to the other carrying tools, soil and water. They will be using large muscles and small muscles Fine motor skills such as whole-hand grasping and the pincer grasp (necessary skills for writing) are utilized when children use a trowel or rake and pick up tiny seeds to plant.
One of the brightest aspects of gardening is the sensory engagement that you can experience in a garden. The smells of the plants, flowers, dirt and the feel of the rocks, water and everything that is growing are all enjoyable and grounding sensations. What if you planted herbs, and were able to use them in classroom cooking?
What of the cognitive development or the science of gardening? Predicting when plants will sprout or when vegetables will be ready to harvest invites the use of hypothesis. Logical thinking, success, failure and making mistakes all enable children to intellectually grow while nurturing their problem-solving skills. Children can learn the differences between plants, flowers, vegetables, fruit or herbs. They also learn about tending to living things as well as the breakdown of plants (stem, leaves, seeds, flowers.)
Gardening teaching literacy skills as well! Learning the different names of plants, marking the containers or rows where seeds are plants, and reading up on the care of plants points children in the direction of becoming life long readers. You can mark the planted areas with the names of the plants and with their pictures too. Children can be encouraged to draw pictures of your garden and label the plants that are or will be growing there.
Your classroom garden affords the children opportunities to work in large and small groups and even individuals. They will learn about teamwork, and you will learn remarkable things about the children in your care. Children can learn about teamwork and about the therapeutic side of digging in the dirt. You know that child who is on the angry side, or usually has way too much energy? Give them a shovel or show them what growth is weeds. As they set about their work, any negative energy will be channelled into a more positive outcome.
Whether your centre has a garden plot or raised beds, or you are simply container gardening; children will benefit on so many developmental levels!
Oh You Wonderful Goo!
Many of us stopped providing goo/goop in our classrooms when concerns around Borax surfaced. You can make it again using the cheapest contact lens solution! As an added bonus, you don’t need to use very much.
Missing from the picture is a bottle of clear Elmer’s School Glue; the glitter pens did not hold nearly enough product and I was concerned about the recipe working well without it.
I emptied two vials of glitter glue and added the same amount of Elmers. The white you see in the picture is baking soda (1/2 teaspoon.)
After adding an equal amount of water to glue (about ½ cup) I started adding contact lens solution ½ teaspoon at a time until the desired texture was achieved.
Here’s the recipe:
1 c. clear, glitter or a combination of both glue (make sure that some of it is Elmer’s)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 c. water
Approximately 1 teaspoon contact lens solutions.
Celebrate Earth Day…..Let’s Get out and Play!
Earth Day is such an awesome time to introduce project-based learning opportunities with your school age children. This is an amazing time to link your group to the community you provide service in. It will enhance school agers ability to develop as thinkers, researchers, innovators and co-constructors of their knowledge and learning.
Engage your school-agers in topics like recycling, pollution, planting, composting, and reusing materials or click on the link below for some great project-based learning ideas.
Earth day is also a great time to start reminding children of nature and respecting the outdoor environment. Here are some great activity ideas to help foster children’s love for the outdoors.