I am a huge believer in management by walking around at my childcare centers. However, I want it to be very clear with my staff about when I’m walking around managing and when I’m just walking through the building. To make that clear, I had a uniform that I would wear when walking through the building collecting monkeys and seeing what was happening in the present.
I put on a jacket with pockets. I think blazers are fabulous. Give me a good jacket with pockets any day and I will be a happy lady.
You choose your way to let folks know that you are open to taking monkeys. Sometimes when you walk through you just want to see what is going on in the classes. Management by walking around allows you to see what is really happening at your center.
The advantage of the pockets is that I could have a post-it pad and I put it in my left hand pocket. That way when I was walking through the program I could write down things that I saw. If a teacher wanted to give me a monkey, I had a place for them to write it down. I would then take any written post-its and I would put them in my right hand pocket.
When I got back to the office I could place it on the appropriate page of my notebook. I did this walk through my program twice every day. My staff knew they could count on seeing me twice a day at any campus that I was visiting. When I only had one center I walked through that Center every day morning and night. When I had multiple centers I had a schedule. Staff knew when they would see me at a minimum one day a week. I would also stop by at other times so that we didn’t have any of that “while the cat is away, the mice will play.”
I used these notes to create “caught in the act” notes for my staff. I caught them doing well in the classroom, on the playground and about their work. These are so much more important than catching them failing to live up to expectations!
What you focus on you get MORE of. I want more wonderful things and fewer instances of misbehavior!
Creating a system and clear record keeping are vital to staff morale. You want to ensure that you are treating everyone equitably. Having clear systems also makes sure that everyone can tell that you are being fair.
Your attitude counts. Be friendly as you walk around the building. Make all the people feel important by stating warm qualities they each have as you introduce them on tours or to new hires.
For example: “This is Mary. Mary has been here for two years and always smiles and has a positive attitude. Mary, this is Sue. Sue has just completed her training as a Child Care Professional and is excited to be with us.”
Discuss the need for team unity. It is important for all the members of your staff to know and understand they are each an important member of the team. They are all working together to create the best possible program. This may mean that sometimes, a staff member has to make some adjustments. He or she may have to fill in for another staff member if needed. They will do this a lot more easily if you, too, are doing your share and filling in. Remember, you are the model for your children and staff.
By doing these things you’ll get the most out of your staff.