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

Welcome to Your New Position and to the Family of Early Childhood Administrators!

As any veteran early childhood administrator will tell you, there is a lot to know and do! Complex factors can make high-quality early childhood administration particularly challenging. For instance, the field of early childhood is changing rapidly. With research extolling the benefits of early childhood education has come increased visibility, political attention, and funding. As a result, increases in responsibilities and expectations have followed. Rapid growth can create additional complexities and misalignments (e.g. many early childhood funding streams, differing requirements, etc.).

Describing the early childhood administrator role as challenging is not meant to create anxiety, but rather to describe a reality of many administrators. Moreover, it sets the stage for some sound advice from others who are walking the same path:

  • Bring your passion for education, young children and their families, but be patient. Prioritize!
  • Empower others. Share leadership.
  • Make connections with other administrators.

Resources - Further Tips for New Admins
5 Strategic Tips for First-Year Administrators, from Edutopia, by Ross Cooper, January 9, 2015.
For admins just starting out, it's helpful to establish relationships, visit classrooms, understand others, flatten the hierarchy, and become an active social media presence.

7 Tips For New and Aspiring Building Principals, from ASCD, May 23, 2017.

Twenty Valuable Tips for New Principals, from NAESP, by Jan Borelli, January/February, 2007.


Keep this in mind throughout your journey: There is a lot to know and do - and our roles vary!
"I am bored" are words never used by early childhood administrators - there is a lot to know and do!! Complex factors can make high-quality early childhood administration particularly challenging. For instance, the field of early childhood is changing rapidly. With research extolling the benefits of early childhood education came increased visibility, political attention, and funding. As a result, increases in responsibilities and expectations have followed. Rapid growth can create additional complexities and misalignments (e.g. many early childhood funding streams, differing requirements, etc.). At the same time, early childhood may look to emulate the K-12 system, which comes with positives and negatives. We need to makes sure we are constantly vigilant and intentional about the early childhood education system we are building (and reforming).

Of course, responsibilities of early childhood coordinators vary from district to district. In some districts, one may be responsible for ECFE, Early Childhood Screening and School Readiness, while others districts may have separate coordinators for each program. Voluntary Prekindergarten and School Readiness Plus may be completely separate. In smaller districts, one may also be responsible for other programs, like School Age Child Care (SACC). Keep in mind that there are approximately 330 school districts and 170 charter schools in Minnesota. One's responsibilities within programs/organizations may vary immensely, so it is especially important that you understand your roles and responsibilities.

First things First - Make Yourself Known
Now that you are a new early childhood administrator, you will want to make sure others know who you are and how to contact you.
1. Known to District and Community (within your organization and community)
Is the contact information on your district website correct? If parents wanted to contact your early childhood programs for information, how easy is it for them to find the information?

2. Known to Colleagues (within your area/region)
MDE and MNAFEE support the Early Childhood Regional Networking Groups. One of the most important things for early childhood coordinators is support. The regional networking groups provide collegial support. They are a great way to get connected with other coordinators in your area. Also, a great way to share information and learn from each other.

Homework: Find and join your EC Regional Networking Group.
One of the most important things for early childhood coordinators is support. The regional networking groups provide collegial support. They are a great way to get connected with other coordinators in your area. Also, a great way to share information and learn from each other.

Note: If there are other organizations (e.g. professional organizations) you belong to, also make sure your contact information is correct.

3. Known to MDE – MDE’s Directory for Schools and Organizations (to the state).
The Minnesota Department of Education-Organization Reference Glossary (MDE-ORG) is a searchable database. It includes a variety of Minnesota school, district and education-related organization directories. Start by searching for your school district. A list of organizations will populate. Find your district and early childhood programs (you may want to look at neighboring districts to see how they are listed). If information is out of date, or sites are not listed that should be, then you will need to contact your site verification coordinator.