When working in kindergarten, the two things are probably, the most important ones. First is leadership: when I work with kids, I must be the example and authority for them to ensure that they are happy to learn and listen to me. The second is mutual trust: both they should trust me, and I should trust them and be sure that they will not perform something wrong.
The question of trust is one of the most important in any workplace, especially in working with people. This becomes even more true when talking about work with children, as in my own case. Lack of trust is ruinous for our work, both between staff members and between teachers and kids. When people in the team lack trust, for example, when the leader blocks access for team members to some facilities, teams become less stable and more uncomfortable (Sinek, 2014).
Unfortunately, I often observed such a lack of trust: teachers are often envious of each other, and I faced indirect hostility or even direct criticism and mocking from my colleagues. Trust and good communication between team members help solve problems and are crucial in critical situations (Boin et al., 2013). Luckily, I had had several happy experiences of successful problem-solving and fruitful conversations with my colleagues: for example, when we talked with the education director about challenges facing women in workplaces.
Working with children is especially interesting because each of us must be a kind of leader for kids. When I am with a group of kids, sometimes ten or more, it is crucial for me to be the highest authority for them. I have already mentioned the necessity of trust, but along with that, respect is no less necessary (Sinek, 2014). I needed to be stiff in some cases: for example, when kids were trying to mock me. Direct confrontation and shutting kids up are not helpful in such cases, as I have learned: they would stop trusting, and interactions with them would become hard. What is useful is wittily mocking them in turn while showing the kid that it is you who must teach them, and they should not be aggressive toward you. After that, they usually started to admit my authority while the contact remained.
Critical situations are not uncommon when working with kids. Kindergarten teachers should always be ready to perform well in a crisis when the most important is keeping sense and making critical decisions (Boin et al., 2013). There was an example when I had a small experience and faced the situation when one of the kids started to cough heavily: it turned out that he was ill. Fortunately, other staff members helped call for a doctor quickly, and the child was successfully cured.
In addition, productive and non-toxic communications are crucial for maintaining a healthy atmosphere in the kindergarten. A leader should be able to orchestrate interactions, both vertical and horizontal, and create meaning understandable for kids (Boin et al., 2013). In the case of my work, horizontal interactions are those between children, and vertical ones are between children and kindergarten staff. As one can see, I had many experiences in establishing and maintaining those connections throughout my career, both successful and unsuccessful. For example, it is vital to ensure that all kids have visited a doctor in time and that there are no conflicts or heavy tensions between them.
As one can conclude, to be a leader among kids and colleagues in a kindergarten means to be ready for various challenges, such as the possibility that one of the kids will become ill. It is also necessary to maintain healthy and non-toxic communications with kids and teach them to do this as well. If they become toxic, it is essential to stop them stiffly but politely. In that way, to perform well as a kindergarten teacher, it is necessary to be both strong-willed and sincere.
Boin, A., Kuipers, S., & Overdijk, W. (2013). Leadership in times of crisis: A framework for assessment. International Review of Public Administration, 18(1), 79–91. Web.
Sinek, S. (2014). Leaders eat last: Why some teams pull together and others don’t (Reprint, Revised ed.). Portfolio.