When most people have a bad day at work, they miss a deadline or annoy a coworker. But when an ECE practitioner has a bad day?
They leave a lasting impact on our children and our future.
The pressure is painfully real. And it's an issue that's finally picking up steam in the media. In fact, the Hechinger Report recently found that 50,000 preschoolers are suspended each year in part due to a devastating lack of mental health training for teachers.
With stress at an all-time high and support at an all-time low, is it any wonder preschool teachers are leaving the field at a rate faster than classic "burnout jobs" like sales and hospitality?
At MomentPath, we think it's time to give providers the respect and recognition they deserve—starting with a few practical tips for how to cope with the realities of the job.
From stuck zippers to massive meltdowns—there's no shortage of stressors in an ECE environment.
But the thing about stress is it's a habit. And like any bad habit, the best way to break it is to replace it with a better one.
Dutch researcher and expert on stress management, Dr. Paul Koeck has developed a system for doing just that. According to Dr. Koeck, people who fail to manage their stress usually make four crucial mistakes:
Let's tackle these one by one.
Operative word: professional.
As ECE practitioners, we know better than anyone that self-care isn't something you learn in school. It's seen as a personal luxury—something you do on your own time. And since most of us don't have any time, we simply don't do it.
As director, you have the power to change the narrative. Here's how:
Believe it or not, there is some evidence to suggest that wellness is contagious.
According to a 2012 Gallup report that surveyed 105 teams over six three-month periods, individual team members who reported experiencing wellbeing were 20% more likely to have other team members who also reported thriving six months later.
If you want to beat the turnover trend and hang on to your ECE rockstars, you need to encourage each and every member of your team to develop their own stress management system—and hold each other accountable for maintaining it.
Here are a few ideas your team members can try out:
Unfortunately, most of us didn't take a university course on "soft" topics like self-care and stress management. But in the words of ECE pro and co-host of Child Care Bar and Grill podcast, Jeff A. Johnson, "If the kids are crawling the walls, it's probably because we're emotionally climbing the walls ourselves."
Fact is, when we're taking better care of ourselves and our staff, we're taking better care of our students, too. And we all know that when the kids are happy, everything is just...easier.
Organize team trainings around the topic of burnout and occupational stress. There's no better way to combat staff turnover than by showing them you care enough to tackle the problem head on.
Most of us start the new year (or school year) with a firm resolution to have better boundaries.
But then, life sets in. There are curriculums to plan, reports to file and an endless stream of "urgent" admin tasks demanding our immediate attention.
And since stress is the baseline, most of us never think twice about sacrificing important recharge time in order to tick one more thing off the list.
Give your team the tools they need to win back their time.
The right child care software can help alleviate the admin burden, bridge the gap between parents and teachers and give providers more opportunities to thrive, both in and outside of the classroom.
Because the reality is, today’s educators have twice as much work stress as the average US employee. And as the unsung superheroes of the working world, ECE practitioners simply aren't accustomed to putting themselves first.
It's up to you to help your employees become loyal, enthusiastic allies in creating a more peaceful and productive working environment.