The Interview Process
The process of recruiting and training the next generation of early childhood providers can be both the most exhausting and the most rewarding part of our profession. Often we hear, “I love children” from those considering entering the field. But do you know why you love being with children?
While loving the company of children provides a good start, a child in your care will demand much more from you. Working with groups of children in an institution requires the caregiver be well-versed in state laws and regulations ensuring each child’s health and safety. It may require hours on your feet, squatting, or on your hands and knees. At times, you’ll scrub dishes, wipe up floors, catch all the latest viruses, be covered in poo, deal with upset parents- or worse, upset co-teachers. The best early childhood teachers maintain a strong inner presence and calmness through all of this, modeling peace and security towards those in her presence.
They are aware of every child even as they are fully present with an individual in need. Teachers must have the ability to collaborate with other teachers who have a varied belief system regarding children. And they must respectfully communicate and partner with an even larger group of parents, grandparents and family friends all wanting what is best for a child. Through the course of their time spent working with young children, the early childhood professional will be challenged physically, emotionally and cognitively to balance her many duties in supporting the well-being of what is, at first, a stranger’s baby. And she must do this within a social culture seemingly having little care for her profession with long hours, little benefits, and minimal pay.
When you find someone that has the character and capacity to do all of that, well- that’s exciting.
And also a little dreadful. Will they make it? Next to the fast food industry, child centers have one the highest rates of employee turnover.
In introducing new providers to respectful caregiving in a daycare setting, our first step is being honest with the requirements of the profession. We spend considerable time together at the onset ensuring that new teachers have the information they need to make an informed and honest decision. This is a matter of utmost importance for especially in these early years, young children need to rely on the adults in their lives. The caregiver must be there today and tomorrow. And teachers must be provided the support and tools to ensure each child within the institution feels accepted, valued, safe and free to learn.
Recently, our center went through a tough spell along this process with an unprecedented amount of new teachers leaving after only being with us a short bit. It has caused us to do some soul searching and revisit our introductory time together with teachers new to our center community.
Introducing New Providers to Respectful Caregiving in Daycare Settings must involve first, the interview process. At the center, we include the following in the process:
- First contact: the interview process begins by placing a carefully worded job description for potential candidates. Resumes are reviewed with an emphasis placed on where applicants are spending their free time and studies. A central administrator contacts possible candidates and discusses in detail the center history, philosophy, position details, vision and how applicants can obtain more information online about our offering.
- Second contact: applicants meet with a school director and at least one other administrator (separately) and have an opportunity to share their beliefs on child development, long-range plans, and what they have learned about our program offering online. Not a good sign if they haven’t checked us out- in fact, if they haven’t done their own research, we will write down several links for them read or demonstrations to watch. This part of the process needs to occur prior to the third contact. After meeting, the two administrators get together to share notes.
- Third contact: if a candidate seems to be a good fit and has done some online research, we will move to the “third contact” during the same interview time as above. If a teacher has been asked to do additional digging and returns contact with us to pursue learning more, we will arrange a third interview. This process involves a tour and observation of the facilities- regardless of age, each candidate will have an opportunity to observe at each developmental plane infancy through 5K as the center is all connected. After sharing observations, candidates are asked if they would like to continue the process depending on their natural observational skills. At this time references are checked, necessary DSS paperwork gets completed, and paid training opportunities at the center become available on a part-time basis.
- Paid Observational Training: candidates begin their training at our center’s hub, the kitchen. The kitchen connects all of our environments for the way we share meals with infants and young children is an integral part of our curriculum. Side-by-side administrator, co-teachers, and school owners wash dishes, prepare meals, and attend to the laundry. Here we have an opportunity to connect with the many adults comprising the center faculty. Each has an opportunity to share personally and professionally and candidates are able to contribute to the workload without yet directly working with the children. In the classroom, new teachers warm-in slowly tasked with observation, note taking, and environment preparation.
This interview process takes at least one to two weeks. At the close of the observational training, we meet again with new teachers to discuss the experience. The last question being, “Are you interested in making this work part of your profession?” with an emphasis on it being a one to two year minimal commitment.
With a “yes”, we move onto the next phase of Introducing New Providers to Respectful Caregiving in a Daycare Setting- the internship.
We would love to hear how you recruit and retain early childhood professionals. What would you add to the above? What would you change?