Creating Intentional Teacher Leadership Paths

Supporting the professional development of early childhood educators

Three Teachers, One Strategy

Erie Bronfenbrenner once stated, “someone has to be crazy about the child.” As an early childhood educator for the last 13 years, a manager, and a leader in the field, one of my major epiphanies was that children grow up to become adults. No, that isn’t as profound as Piaget or Freud’s findings, however, it has directly influenced my passion for ensuring that teachers are supported professionally and in their everyday lives. I have seen that precept also spur the growth of numerous colleagues. Here are three in particular.

Teacher 1: Supporting Steady, Intentional Professional Growth

The day we interviewed her, I knew she would be great. She said with so much humility, “Although I qualify for a Lead Teacher position, I don’t want to mess any kids up, I want to learn about curriculum.” So she started as a Teacher Aide. After a year of hard work and dedication, she was promoted to an Assistant Teacher. The following year, she became a Lead Teacher, and now serves as a Supervising Lead Teacher. Along the way, she had the support from her supervisor and myself and was guided by an Individual Professional Development Plan with goals and objectives to meet. As she met the goals, her knowledge grew and her teaching became more effective.

Teacher 2: Finding New Ways for Passionate Staff to Grow

The great thing about this teacher was that despite all of our focus on teacher recruitment, we didn’t find her, she had found us. She applied because she wanted to work with the population that needed her the most. Later that year, she decided to further her education by enrolling a master’s program for early childhood education. She already brought a wealth of knowledge to Head Start and was willing to drive an hour each way to serve the children and families who needed her.

Teacher 3: Guiding Staff Through Planning Their Own Growth

We had another person who demonstrated strong growth as a teacher but made clear she had goals beyond the classroom. although she didn’t know what that looked like. She came to me professionally and presented that she was ready for a move, and we had a discussion about her strengths. Together, we sat down and created an Individual Professional Plan. This targeted plan helped her to see that her organization skills, experience, and influence with her peers made her a great choice to become a professional development coordinator with the organization.

Our Contribution

Intentional professional development of teachers is one valuable strategy to support and retain the Head Start workforce. Investing in our staff who do the heavy lifting would benefit us all, but it’s important to remember that investment isn’t just monetary. Investment can mean your time, patience, affection, and love. We owe our staff that much so that they can pass it on to the children and families they care for every day


Supporting the Head Start Workforce

Dedicated to supporting the health and well-being of the Head Start teachers, caregivers, and staff who are directly responsible for implementing the Head Start model every day.

National Head Start Association

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NHSA is a nonprofit organization committed to the belief that every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, has the ability to succeed in life.

Supporting the Head Start Workforce

Dedicated to supporting the health and well-being of the Head Start teachers, caregivers, and staff who are directly responsible for implementing the Head Start model every day.