What is Leadership?

We’re happy to share this perspective on leadership from educational consultant (and DAL committee member), Christina Fecio.

“What is leadership?”

When I ask that question in a group, at least one person is always compelled to google it and/or someone answers it with an inspirational quote.

As a self-admitted “word nerd” I do love a good quote — but when I’m asking you a question, I’m more interested in your own response, in your own words. Your words give me insight about how you think and that insight is important to me.

So I’ve changed my approach a little and now I ask this:

Whose leadership has positively impacted your life? Think about that influential teacher, or coach, or supervisor who immediately comes to mind when you think “leader” and when you can see that face in your mind, ask yourself: “What did that person consistently do well?”

My next question is usually, “… and how did that make you feel?” That focus on feelings makes many people feel uncomfortable; vulnerability is uncomfortable. Yet, when we wait through the awkward pause and one brave soul speaks up? That’s where the magic happens.

When that first response makes it okay (for most people) to be vulnerable, we hear some powerful responses. We hear words like valued, appreciated, seen, and empowered. We hear words like happy, loved, respected, and joyful.

In those moments, we find an authentic answer to that very first question, “What is leadership?” — because we’re ready to focus on our potential to inspire those same feelings in others.

This post was originally published at https://christinafecio.com/2020/01/27/what-is-leadership/

Quick Tips: Managing Clearances

Directors in WNY have shared questions regarding the recent regulatory changes. Our first tip, of course, is to suggest open, honest communication with your licensor — don’t be afraid to call him/her with your questions.

Separately, we’d like to suggest checking out this informational video from OCFS, if you haven’t seen it yet:

Comprehensive Background Checks (15 minutes)

Last but not least, check out this summary created by Cheri and consider posting it in your office for easy reference.

If you need a visual cue, this “what to fax to your licensor” pic from Jessica might be helpful to you, too.

PS: Cheri and Jessica, both members of the DAL advisory committee, are open to your calls or emails if you want to chat about how they are managing these changes at their centers.

  • Email Cheri at nowickic (at) skiesthelimitllc (dot) com
  • Email Jessica at jessica (at) bloomcreativearts (dot) com

Quick Tip: Connect with Every Team Member, Every Day

Engaging in warm, positive, 1:1 daily interactions with children is recommended as a key strategy for building relationships with young children — but did you know it’s equally essential for adults?

Whether you’re commenting on something that you observed (“Hey, I appreciated that engagement you had with Dion”) or offering a simple, sincere “thank you” at the end of a shift, make it a point to connect with every team member, every day.

Your personal attention says, “I see you” — and being noticed helps team members feel valued and appreciated.

Many thanks to Julie Pelletier for sharing today’s Quick Tip.

Julie is the Vice President of Business Development for Inspire! Care 360.

Quick Tip: Make a Short List

When you have a loooooooong to-do list that is interrupted by bathroom breaks, phone calls, and other things that reliably pop up, it’s easy to be busy all day long and still wrap up the day feeling like you didn’t accomplish anything.

A short list can help you stay focused and productive — and it’s as easy as it sounds. At the beginning of each day, make a short list of your top priorities; the short list becomes your to-do list…and it’s magical because it’s manageable!

Need a specific strategy? Try the 1-3-5 rule, explained in this article; 1 big thing + 3 medium things + 5 small things = a super satisfying to-do list!

Many thanks to Jessica Tollar for sharing today’s Quick Tip. A valued member of the DAL advisory committee, Jessica is the Director of Early Childhood Development and Curriculum for Care-a-Lot Child Care Centers and Bloom Creative Arts.

Quick Tip: Treats for Your Team

A new school year, like every season of change, is busy and can feel overwhelming to children and adults alike.

To help teachers manage the transition, add a little pick-me-up to your staff lounge. Show them you care with a “de-stress basket” that contains various teas, coffees, snacks, a stress ball and/or adult coloring pages, and most importantly, chocolate.

Lots of chocolate.

Many thanks to Kathy Kiblin for sharing today’s Quick Tip. Kathy is the Leadership Chairperson for the WNY Chapter of NYAEYC and an education specialist for Child Care Resource Network.

Kathy (right) pictured with Lisa Murphy (left) is a huge fan of the Ooey Gooey Lady — in fact, her second Quick Tip is that you should follow Lisa on social media!

Quick Tip: Think Positively!

In a world where we’re bombarded with negative information — social media, news, advertisements, and more — it can help your mindset (and your productivity) to focus on the positive.

Consider posting a few positive, inspirational quotes around your office and in shared spaces. Whether you jot them on sticky notes or create a fancy display, you’re adding a “feel good” vibe to your program — and that can never hurt!

Many thanks to Kim Suminski, CEO of Child Care Resource Network, for sharing today’s quick tip — and for sharing some of her favorite quotes, too!

Quick Tip: Don’t Skimp on Onboarding

When you have ratios that need to be met and a task list that seems to get longer each day, it can be tempting to take some shortcuts with new employees’ orientation.

Today’s pro tip? Don’t skimp! The time (and effort) that you put into orientation has a direct impact on employee retention.


…and if your orientation process needs a little pick-me-up, we’ve got you covered! Check out this great article.

Many thanks to Jill Boeck for sharing today’s Quick Tip.

A valued member of the DAL Advisory Committee, Jill is a Quality Improvement Specialist for QUALITYstarsNY. 

Quick Tip: Take a Break (Everyday)

Even on the days that it seems impossible — actually, especially on those days — take a break.

Ideally, take an actual lunch break (check out 7 great reasons why here) but at minimum, take a few minutes to walk outside.  The act of physically exiting the building and breathing fresh air can be the mental reset you need to tackle the rest of the day.

… and if you can, put your feet in the grass! The very simple act of walking barefoot on grass is a powerful and natural stress reliever.

HeadshotMany thanks to Christina Fecio for sharing today’s Quick Tip.

A valued member of the DAL Advisory Committee, Christina is an independent educational consultant. You can find her at www.christinafecio.com

Quick Tip: Show Families Some Love

Juggling backpacks, diaper bags, traffic, and a busy work schedule means that the morning routine can be hectic and overwhelming for parents — especially during transition times like the back-to-school season. 

photo of coffee cup on wooden surface
Photo by Ekrulila on Pexels.com

One easy way to show families some love during the morning drop off is to place an unexpected treat at your front desk. A simple spread of portable breakfast items (think cereal bars, whole fruit, and coffee in to-go cups) will have parents smiling as they are headed out the door.

LanaMany thanks to Lana Diaz for sharing today’s Quick Tip.

A valued member of the DAL Advisory Committee, Lana is a Recruitment & Advancement Specialist for Doodle Bugs! Children’s Learning Academy.

Quick Tip: Let Go of What You Can’t Control

Talking about self-care sometimes conjures up images of bubble baths or a fancy latte, but at its heart, it’s really just a reminder to give deliberate time and attention to your own well-being. As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
self care_nourishOne solid self-care strategy is to lighten your “mental load” by letting go of things you cannot control. Check out this quick video to learn more:
Professor Teaches Important Lesson (3 minutes)

SaraMany thanks to Sara Lamoreaux for sharing today’s Quick Tip.

A valued member of the DAL Advisory Committee, Sara is a Quality Improvement Specialist for QUALITYstarsNY.