Planning In-Service Training for Child Care Staff
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Here are some tips and ideas for directors and administrators who are planning in-service training for their child care staff.
- Look closely at what the needs of your child care staff are, and not just what you have done in the past, or who is easily available to present training. This is a great opportunity to address the real needs and gaps at your center!!
- Your local CCR&R's are great resources for locating trainers for inservice training.
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- Try to set up separate, concurrent training sessions specifically for Infants/Toddler Teachers. They have a valid complaint when they say that they sat through a training and nothing applied to them.
- Give nice certificates for staff participation. This can make people feel as if they have really completed something and that it is of value.
- Be specific about when you want people back from breaks. Do not just say "Be back in 10 minutes"...say "Be back at 6:20 P.M."
- Utilize your resources. You may have many parents that have businesses, or work closely with businesses, and would gladly donate door prizes or food if asked.
- Keep in mind the need to move and attention spans. Vary training with small group activities and provide opportunities to move and stretch.
- Welcome everyone, thank them for attending, and have people introduce themselves.
- Be aware of the physical comfort of participants. Obtain adult size chairs if possible.
- Post some of the handouts and poems in highly visible areas for staff after using them in in-service training. This is an effective way to reinforce concepts, and to assist in the continuing assimilation of information.
- Related articles can enhance and supplement training. Individuals have different learning styles, and some will retain information better in this format. Corresponding articles also lend credibility to the information presented.
- Consider incorporating a Health and Safety topic reminder in each monthly staff meeting or training. You can delegate a staff member to coordinate and present this information, if desired.
- Ask questions encouraging participation and discussion. By soliciting comments and feedback and involving the staff, you will be able to better assess if the training is meeting their needs.
- Try to keep trainings positive and upbeat. Training and staff meetings are generally two different things. If you are truly doing a training, keep "housekeeping" things and announcements to 5 minutes. If there are issues involving only a couple of employees, deal with them individually.
- Small group activities allow for some movement after a long day, and breaks up the training format. It also allows for staff members to work together and communicate with each other. Some employees will be more comfortable speaking and offering ideas in a small group, but not a large group setting. Any "fill in the blank" activities that are included in modules are intended to be facilitated in small groups.
- Discourage the usual "cliques" when breaking up into small groups. You want staff members to all get to know each other and function as a team. Break into groups in fun, creative ways - buy a bag of Hershey miniatures assortment and have each staff member choose their favorite (making 4 groups); write the names of sitcom families or characters on pieces of paper (Ginger, MaryAnn, the Professor; Jan, Marcia, Cindy - "Okay, Gilligan's Island group over here. Brady's over there.")
- Consider training in clusters of centers, capitalizing on the areas of strength in your colleagues, and pooling resources.
- Make reasonable attempts to eliminate barriers to attendance (childcare, transportation, dinner, etc.), whenever possible.
- Give staff ample notice, and/or consider having training on the same night every month. Talk it up and be positive - your attitude about training will set the tone and attendance.
- If there is any type of text that needs to be covered, have each staff member read a paragraph or bullet, and then relay what they think that means, if they agree, &/or give an example. This ensures that staff are active participants, and you are not the only one speaking. People also remember information longer when associated with personal examples.
- Use inexpensive little doorprizes to reinforce behavior you want to see. Only the staff members that were on time can put their name in for the drawing; if the topic is science, everyone votes on which teacher has the best science area, etc.
- Even if your state doesn't require it, keep a training log - both an overall center log, and individual staff training logs. Remind staff members what the requirements are for in-service hours in your state.
- Convey to staff the benefits they will receive from the training, and its relevance. ("This will help you to do your job and make your day much easier.")
- Communicate to new employees upon hire that on-going training is an expectation and part of the position.
- Have fun! Make your trainings something your staff want to attend and an opportunity to build your team! Again, as with anything...your staff will look to you for cues. Build enthusiasm.