by Gaye Weinberger

Throughout my career, regardless of industry, one of the keys to success is constantly educating myself. The world we encounter is changing swiftly with technology driving much of the change. Staying in tune with the tools available to expedite tasks, communicate information and drive efficiencies must be a priority. Feeding your growing understanding of the “human” elements of your position can be even more important. Nowhere is this more evident than in the teaching profession. Exposure to the latest research on working with children with various learning challenges and new approaches to engendering positive self-image are just a few areas exploding with information these days. How is a director supposed to keep up with it and share it down the line with the teaching staff? Here are just a few ways.

1. Leveraging Industry Associations
A great resource for information are industry associations. Joining one or more provides on-going information through eNewsletters, Association periodicals and webinars. And attendance at annual conferences expands your knowledge on all levels – proven techniques for managing day care centers of all sizes, new ideas for classroom set-up and lesson planning, marketing strategies to increase enrollment, handling compliance, engaging Parents. And best of all, an introduction to other professionals in the industry sharing your experiences on a daily basis. Building those relationships during conferences leads to long-term business and personal friendships that bolster your spirits when confronted with challenges and share your excitement with successes.

2. Building local or informal groups
I have also found belonging to a local association chapter or a more informal group of other center directors or teachers provides a sense of community. A monthly gathering, in person or via a tool like Skype or Google Hangouts, gives you an opportunity to share ‘war’ stories or talk about the challenges of running a center in balance with the rest of your life. Work/Life balance challenges all of us but no one more than a Center Director whose business is not your normal 8a-5p routine and who is responsible for the care and education of very young children. Lean on your peer group to help you face those challenges.

3. Dive into Social Media
Social media channels open a whole new opportunity for networking. Instagram and Pintrest in particular are great channels for connecting with peers in the day care community and other industry professionals. I see great ideas every day for any child care center to implement. And any time I need a morale boost, seeing some of the fun activities and the smiles that accompany them are a sure-fire fix. Just search on day care or child care and many options will pop up. Or try the hashtags #childcare #childcarelife #earlyed or #earlyeducation. Check out who is posting with those tags and start following some of them.

4. Local Community Colleges
Most local community colleges offer programs in early education. This can be a great way to learn some of the newest approaches to the teaching interaction. Just signing up for one course or workshop can open a new way of viewing your classrooms and teacher interactions.
Remember that we control how we feel about our work life and responsibilities. Open your world to new ideas and techniques and then reinvent them to work in your environment with your children and your staff. Each Center is its own culture and it is that uniqueness that attracts families to you. Embrace it and learn something new each day to drive even greater success.

Some Industry options to join, follow or attend:
National Association for the Education of Young Children; or follow NAEYC on Facebook
Association of Early Learning Leaders; or follow AELL on Facebook
Child Care Marketing Solutions; or follow Child Care Marketing Solutions on Facebook