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Kristin Urie

"When I started at our Center in December, there was not an established staff meeting. In fact, there had not been an all-staff meeting since the opening over a year prior. Everyone had been working so hard getting the Center up and running, there simply was not the time or capacity to do anything "extra". Communication was overall strong; the lead teacher has a calm, direct and positive approach, and helps to set a tone for children and staff. Staff communicated at the beginning of the day, checked in with each other frequently, and things went smoothly.

Shortly after I started there were a couple of questions that staff brought to me that made me realize we needed time to all be together, to check in and make sure we were all on the same page, so we started a monthly staff meeting. The first one was in February, and it was as if the floodgates opened! There was so much to talk about, so much to share and ask. Particular challenges with particular children were brought forth, and staff who might not work on the same days could share strategies and ideas. It felt great to have this opportunity for reflection as a group, a chance to ask "how are we doing? what changes could we make to improve things for the children?"

We start the meeting with sharing of "Celebrations". This is anything in your life (work, home, play) that happened since we last met that feels successful. Staff take turns sharing these moments, which offer a glimpse into each other's lives and nurtures connection among the team. I got this idea from a former principal at my kids school; this is how he started staff meetings, and it set a positive, reflective and connected tone, brought people together around each other's stories.

It is important for all of us to pause long enough to reflect, as a group and also individually. The individual reflective part of my work is coming slowly; I have been encouraging staff to create or update their IPDPs, as I create and update my own, but I have not yet set up individual meetings with each staff member. This is an important next step. I started with very little formal back round in Early Childhood Education, and so I have spent these first few months learning from and observing staff. Now I am ready to offer some guidance and support for each of them to set professional goals and reflect on their teaching. I think that the trust we have built thus far will be a good foundation for these conversations.

"Supervision is a dynamic, evolutionary process that is based on trust" (Sciarra et. al, p.305). My supervisory process is every evolving as I walk deeper into this role as director each day. Much of the classroom supervision of staff has been done by the lead teacher and she has brought concerns to my attention. "The director must ensure that staff members engage in high-quality practices at all times." Confronting staff directly about something that needs to change is not easy; I have had to do this once so far, and imagine there will be more opportunities to practice in the future! Some of it is just that: practice, getting comfortable with conflict and starting those conversations, being able to stay calm and caring while upholding the program and doing what is best for the kids.

I hope that the staff professional development plans and goals can be a dynamic part of their work life, not something that sits on a shelf. It is part of my job to set this tone, to check in and encourage staff to consider in what ways they want to grow, and to have that conversation on a regular basis."

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