Kate and I (Carrie) have been teaching people how to direct childcare programs for 15 years. Did you ever wonder
Where did you come from, where did you go?
Where did you come from, Cotton-Eye Joe?
Sorry. My Texas roots are showing. Every time I tried to just type where did we come from, that song just popped into my head. Anyway…
Back in 2001 we were both working side gigs with a non-profit organization, focusing on helping women grow their businesses. I was providing training and support to Registered Family Home providers and small child care centers. Kate was administering a grant focused on job opportunities for low income women.
They approached me to write a curriculum for a Director Credentialing course, but said they wanted to have an academic teach it. That didn’t make sense to us. Why not have the instructor be someone who has actual experience in the field and an academic write the text? How could they answer questions that came up in class? They wanted to ensure that the text hit all the points that a new Director needed to know, and so they wanted a “practitioner” to write it. OK, I can get behind that. I decided if I was going to create the materials, I darned well wanted to teach it! Kate agreed, and we set off to create what is now Texas Director.
We researched, compiled our knowledge, filled out paperwork, and found a place to teach the first class. We talked through everything that we wished we had known when we started from marketing tips to insurance to classroom arrangement techniques. Writing the book was much harder than we thought it would be. We were literally finishing it while we were teaching that first class.
We tweaked it during each class for the first year. Sometimes it was just that we noticed a place where we needed to add punctuation, but other times we realized that we had not explained a key point well enough.
We knew that adults retain information better if they have short activities after each topic. So, we had a quiz or work product that corresponded to each area. When the new Director was done learning about goal setting and all the ways they can use that tool to improve their center, there was a goal setting worksheet to go through to cement the knowledge and give a chance to practice the skill.
Everyone who has ever worked in pre-k knows that to really learn something, you have to actually do it. You can teach Tommy that his name is spelled T-O-M-M-Y and show him the letters, demonstrate how you write it, but he won’t be able to sign-in in the morning until he holds the pencil and tries. It will be a mess the first time, but he won’t master it if he hasn’t tried once. That was the core of our teaching and evaluating philosophy.
It still is today. A lot has changed in 15 years, but that concept and our commitment to making sure our Directors have what they need to start their careers off strong hasn’t. If you or a friend is thinking about becoming a Director, let us help you. You won’t regret it.