Setting them up for Success

This is a blog post that is mostly for those Directors and Site Supervisors; although anyone who supervises anyone will benefit.

In the classroom, we provide challenging activities for the children, but we make sure those challenges are not TOO challenging.  We want to set them up to succeed.

Children, as adults do, have different strengths.  When I was growing up I was very strong in math and very weak in history.  I mean, one year in high school I and another student taught ourselves two years worth of math.  We were in an accelerated class that went through two years of math in one year and the teacher was a bit of a…well, let’s just say our final test had 10 questions on it and everyone was about the teacher (how tall is he, what was his best high school prank, where did he go to school, etc…)

Okay, I was awesome at math.  One of my closest friends, however, was and is lousy in math.  I mean, she struggles with basic math.  I’m not saying this to be mean, just honest.  When I went to college I started at calculus.  She started at basic math and had to work her way up.  No one would ever expect to start her at calculus.  That would be complete torture and would be setting her up to fail, right?

We do the same thing in the classroom.  I don’t bring in 1,000 piece puzzles to a toddler classroom because that would be setting them up to fail.  We bring them activities based on their skill level, right?

Sometimes, we set our teachers up to fail as well.  When we work in larger centers and we lose a teacher, often times we look within first to see if there are any assistant teachers who are interested in the position.

Many times we move an assistant teacher into that teacher role long before she is ready to be in that teacher role.  Everyone needs time to develop in their current position and master that position before moving to the next level.

I have to admire two teachers in the recent past.  One came to us brand new and began as a teacher.  After a few months she discovered that there was more to being a teacher than just writing activities on a piece of paper for the week.  She quickly figured out that she wasn’t doing the children any justice and asked to step down into an assistant teacher role.  She did and is excelling in that position as she is begin to master that role.  In a few years, she may be ready to be a teacher, just not today.

The other teacher was an assistant teacher with us for a while.  She had worked under some pretty strong teachers who were coaching her to one day be a very strong teacher.  However, when we were looking for a teacher at one point she was asked if she wanted the teacher position.  She later admitted that the supervisor that she had at the time kind of pressured her into taking the position.  It took her a while, more than a year closer to two, to realize she was in over her head and that she needed to step back down.

That supervisor was very unfair to this girl.  She was obviously not ready for the teacher position and, in the end, set her up to fail.  I know!  I’ve been there!  When a director is looking for a teacher it is always so much easier and more convenient to find one from within.  It’s sometimes easier to hire an assistant teacher; but it’s not easier for a teacher who felt pressured into taking a new position in stepping down.

It goes higher as well; don’t move a teacher into a director position before she is ready either.  It’s not fair to them.  When supervising adults, sometimes we need to go back to our thinking of the children in the classroom.  Look at the best interest of every child…look at the best interest of every staff member…look at each child’s strengths and move from there…look at each staff member’s strength and move from there.

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