New Administrators

Welcome to your new position as an early childhood administrator!

Starting a new position as an early childhood program administrator may feel overwhelming. Many of us have not received any formal training in school administration and leadership (we might have been a teacher one day and an administrator the next). Unlike other administrative licenses that provide a foundation for future school leaders, there is no existing higher education preparation program for early childhood. Nevertheless, even those with administrative licenses share the feeling of early childhood being complex, as administrative licensure programs do not adequately address early childhood, and some may not have real-world experience in early childhood programs, let alone experience in the role of early childhood administration.

Part I: Getting Started as a New Administrator

How to Use the Modules

These modules were created by MDE and MNAFEE as a resource for new early childhood administrators. Professional development is most effective when it is job-embedded and ongoing. Similarly, your growth and development as an administrator and leader requires a commitment to continual learning and growth. Moreover, as an adult learner, your focus will likely be on the knowledge and skills needed to successfully perform your job. With this in mind, we encourage you to focus on both personal capital and social capital. As educators, we are accustomed to focusing on personal capital/development (by "personal capital" we do not mean money, but rather human capital in the sense of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes we develop in ourselves). Social capital can be complex, but we are defining it as the social networks (or bonds and relationships) and social environments/resources that you develop and nurture over time.

Since there can be considerable variation in early childhood administration responsibilities, and in the ways in which districts operate, determining the scope and sequence of these modules is challenging (module 2 will help with this). With regard to the scope, there may be some topics in which you need more depth, or some topics not addressed in these modules. For sequence, seek out the information most relevant to what you want/need to learn about (there is no need to complete the modules in order). Developing a professional learning plan for your development as an early childhood administrator is highly recommended. We hope these modules will be a valuable tool in your growth and development.

The goal of these modules is to help get you started by highlighting some of the more important things to know (and do). Of course, similar to other aspects of education, being passionate about your work and practicing lifelong learning are vital to the success of early childhood administrators. Utilize the information in these modules to help increase your knowledge and advance your practice. Certainly, the modules are not designed to contain all the information you will need as a new coordinator. With this in mind, we include links and resources to help you explore other aspects and requirements of your position. While working on this course, these additional supports should be very helpful:

  • Participate in your regional networking group (learning from other early childhood administrators is essential – early childhood administrators report that there number one source of information and support is other early childhood administrators).
  • Familiarize yourself with the Early Childhood Administration website.
  • Find and establish reliable resources for when you need further information. This will likely depend on the type of information and its application. For example:
    • Another district administrator for information on district policies and procedures. Or, for help with human resources, like when posting a position and adhering to the district’s hiring process.
    • A veteran early childhood administrator for when you need more information on early childhood administration practices.
    • The Early Childhood Administration website when you need to access information. For example, to see the Knowledge and Competency Framework (KCF) for early childhood administrators.
    • Head Start’s Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (ECLKC) for information and resources on numerous topics, including their resources for new Head Start directors.

Below are additional recommendations:

  1. Create a professional development plan for yourself.
  2. Consider participating in learning about your role with another new coordinator.
  3. Consider the benefits of a mentor.
  4. Keep in mind your goals, values/beliefs, learning priorities. Write these down, monitor your progress.
  5. Keep in mind the big three outcome drivers: Leadership, Teachers (Adults), and Systems. High performing schools have great leaders, great teachers (adults), and great systems.
  6. Adults as Learners: Effective Teaching Strategies, Click Here, Catherine Rasmussen, Extension Professor, University of MN
  7. Reach out to other programs, schools, and communities to learn or collaborate.
  8. Make commitment to continual learning and improvement.
  9. Start to consider ways in which you will contribute to the field of early childhood administration.