Many early years settings take on a workforce structure of Manager, Deputy Manager, Room Leaders and then Practitioners. A room leader is a person who holds greater responsibility and over sees a team of practitioners to ensure they are doing what they should be in order for the children to thrive. Room leaders are also often there to bridge the gap between management and practitioners relaying back any important information. A room leader usually shares all the same responsibilities as a practitioner with having a key group, being involved in daily activities and completing cleaning duties. They then have the added responsibility of making any final decisions about the immediate environment, routines, activities, topics, dealing with unhappy practitioners and parents, over seeing the correct completion off all paperwork, completing regular supervisions and liaising with management. The workload of a room leader is huge and having a supportive and knowledgeable team is invaluable.
Read our top tips below on how a room leader can effectively lead a team.
Many room leaders would claim they are unorganised however they must be organised to have a gained a room leader position. Have systems in place so all practitioners know what they should be doing. This saves a lot of moaning and means as a room leader you are not constantly having to ask for things to be do. Another great reason to having a variety of systems in place such as rota’s and check list is so when you are off everyone knows exactly what they need to do. Also if anything goes wrong or doesn’t get done it is often possible to see who needs a gentle word without having to make a big deal and speak to all the practitioners in the room. In particular daily routine/cleaning rotas are useful, this could be a set weekly sheet or may be a wipeable one that is completed each morning. Either way it ensures that each practitioner is completing a job that day. This doesn’t have to be something exclusively completed by the room leader and morale will stay high if the team is asked what jobs they would like to do for the day/week. Another great rota is for planning, as room leaders many practitioners take it upon themselves to complete the planning every week however it is important for all practitioners to get involved in the planning process as they each have a key group who will need planned next steps meeting. Having a rota for planning means all early years practitioners can get involved and put forward ideas keeping the whole team happy.
As you are a room leader it is important that your team still sees you as some one who is helpful and is part of the team. Just because you are a room leader doesn’t mean you cant clean up after snacks and meals or change nappies. These are all part of the job and early years practitioners will become upset if they feel you aren’t being proactive and are abusing your position.
Give everyone a say
To keep the early years team happy and to ensure every child is getting the most from each practitioner, let all practitioners have a say. Whether it about planning, what to put on the new display board, what to put in the sand tray or changes to the routine. A few brains are always better then one and you might have some really useful suggestions given to you. Although the ultimate decision is yours discussing ideas first gives everyone the feeling of involvement and shows you value their thoughts. Keeping a happy team is important to the environment that the children are in and the atmosphere you create for the parents. Having a my way or the highway attitude never leads to a great team.
Sometimes when you are around your team and working closely with them every day it can make it difficult to deal with issues that arise. As a room leader it is important you are taken seriously and feel you can speak to your team when things don’t always go the right way. Be assertive if your discussions are around concerns and ensure your team know that while you are at work you are in charge and will sometimes need to address problems. Face problems head on and get to the bottom of them quickly. A problem will only continue to spiral and create a strain meaning best practice is not being deomstrated. Use practitioner observations and supervisions to help you address these problems and speak to management where necessary.
Trust is a very important factor and you will need to rely on your team. Trust that they will do the right things when you are not there and that they can do their jobs. You also need to show your team that they can trust you and you will be an active member of the team and do all you can do to create the best possible working environment and learning environment for the children. If you are experiencing some problems within your early years team you may suggest to management that you complete some team building activities together. This can be a great way to break down any barriers and to build trust and a shared level of expectation. Have a look at our team building pinterest board here for some great team building activities.