The staff hired for the Education Component is the key to successful implementation of the Education Component Plan. Staff selected should subscribe to the Head Start philosophy and policies while contributing their own creativity and skill in working with preschool children.
In staffing the Education Component, the Director and Education Coordinator work closely with the Parent Involvement Coordinator to develop a system of involving the Policy Council/Committee in recruiting and selecting staff and volunteers. The Social Services and/or Volunteer Coordinator will also be helpful in identifying local sources of volunteers, e.g., foster grandparent programs or summer youth volunteer programs. It is strongly recommended that each program develop a written manual describing staff recruitment, screening, and selection procedures.
DETERMINING STAFFING NEEDS AND
Staff is recruited or selected in response to a clear statement of the program's needs. The total number of children in the program affects staffing most directly; there must be enough staff to comply with required state and local staff-child ratios. Operating the home-based option requires home visitors who can travel to the children's homes and, in many cases, work in the classroom as well. Large programs may have more than one Education Coordinator or an assistant Education Coordinator.
INVOLVING PARENTS IN THE STAFF
Head Start policy 70.2 clearly states that parents are to be given decision-making responsibilities within the program. One of the areas in which parents must have a role is in recruiting, screening, and selecting the staff.
In most programs, this requirement is satisfied by a personnel selection committee comprised of parents, the education staff, and in some cases, the Parent Involvement Coordinator. Parents can and should be involved in each of the tasks described in this section. They can serve on recruitment teams, help write job descriptions, help conduct reference checks, and participate in the interview process.
It is recommended that parents who participate in this process receive adequate training. They will become familiar with the criteria used in staff selection and learn how to conduct interviews and observe applicants as they interact with children and parents.
DEVELOPING JOB DESCRIPTIONS
The Education Plan includes a list of the staff categories for the component and job descriptions for each category. Job descriptions, which may be developed by the Director or the Education Coordinator, should be finalized prior to recruiting and selecting staff. Clearly written job descriptions include:
The Education Component Plan may include job descriptions for each of these positions:
- job title;
- a realistic description of job responsibilities, including supervisory duties;
- whether the job is full- or part-time, permanent or temporary;
- educational requirements;
- type and amount of previous experience required; and
- approximate salary range for the position.
When developing job descriptions, begin by reviewing the Performance Standards and strategies for meeting
- Education Coordinator
- Head teachers/center directors
- Assistant teachers
- Home visitors
- Classroom volunteers
them as defined in the Education Component Plan. Next, review the CDA competencies. Consider the following questions.
- What does the job consist of on a daily basis? in the classroom? in the home? in group socialization experiences? for the overall education program?
- What kind of qualifications are necessary to fulfill these duties? skills? prior experience?
- What kind of educational background is needed? an associate degree? bachelors degree in early childhood education? masters degree? high school diploma? CDA? CDA with bilingual specialization?
- Will this be a full-time job? Could it be a part-time job?
- What career advancement opportunities exist within this job category?
- What has been budgeted for this staff position? What is the salary range?
- Do all of the above criteria meet Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as amended, and comply with Head Start Performance Standards?
The Head Start Director works with the Education Coordinator to recruit education staff. Recruitment involves developing a procedure for advertising job vacancies within and outside of the program. All procedures must be open, competitive, and comply with Head Start regulations and EEOC requirements.
There are numerous ways in which job vacancies can be advertised:
Some programs develop job vacancy forms for advertising openings. The form includes job title, duties, location, salary range, education and experience requirements, how and where to apply, and the closing date for accepting applications.
- posting vacancy notices on center bulletin boards;
- sending copies of notices home with children;
- advertising in local newspapers or community newsletters;
- posting notices in neighborhood locations, such as libraries and grocery stores; and
- notifying the placement office at local colleges or universities.
When advertising positions, keep the program's career development plan in mind. Although priority in hiring is not automatically given to existing staff, those who are qualified to apply for a new position should be notified and their applications considered. Head Start parents must receive preference for employment as paraprofessionals.
DEVELOPING JOB APPLICATIONS
A good job application is based on the job description and includes questions that will help determine which applicants are appropriate. Job application forms should include the following general information
Many programs find it helpful to include a series of questions on the application form that encourage the applicant to express his/her views about early childhood education and Head Start. Such questions can elicit information about the applicant's attitudes, abilities, skills, and interest in training and the answers provide writing samples for job categories that require writing skills. The following questions are examples that might be included in job application forms for education staff.
- Basic information-applicant's name, address, phone number, social security number, and position applied for;
- Education-where applicant attended school; degree(s) earned and when; major and minor, and types of certificates held (e.g., CDA);
- Prior work experience-names and addresses of former employers; jobs held, dates, and salaries; immediate supervisor and primary responsibilities for each job listed; and
- References-names, addresses, and phone numbers for at least three personal and three professional references (not friends and relatives).
- What do you feel is the most important aspect of preschool experiences for young children?
- What are some of the values of play for young children?
- What are the benefits of parent participation in the program?
- Give an example of how you would involve parents in your Head Start classroom.
Screening ensures that only applicants who meet all eligibility criteria are called in for interviews. It involves checking each applicant's credentials against the job qualifications to determine eligibility for the position. At a minimum, two questions should be addressed: (1) Does the applicant meet the educational and professional requirements for the job? and (2) Are all portions of the job application form complete, consistent, and accurate? Further research is advised if there is an unexplained gap in the applicant's work history, the application is incomplete, or if the information provided doesn't make sense.
In many programs, the personnel selection committee screens the applications. In other programs, applications are initially screened by the grantee or delegate agency personnel office. All eligible applications are then sent to the selection committee.
An important part of the Education Coordinator's role in staff screening and selection is to provide guidance to the members of the committee about what to look for when hiring. The committee can review the applications together, or participate in a formal training session during which the recruitment, screening, and selection process is described and criteria for staff are discussed.
INTERVIEWING, OBSERVING, AND
Once the initial screening has been completed, candidates are interviewed and observed working with children and parents. Before presenting the final candidates to the Policy Council/Committee for approval, candidates' references and records are checked.
CONDUCTING THE INTERVIEW
The following are recommendations for conducting the interview.
When developing interview questions, review the job description for the position; the questions should match the job description and elicit responses that help deter mine the qualifications of the candidate. Suggested categories and sample questions are described below.
- Prepare candidates for the interview by giving them an overview of the interview process and the topics that will be discussed.
- Pay attention to their personal appearance, speech, and ability to express themselves.
- Encourage candidates to talk; avoid questions that can be answered with a ''yes" or ''no."
- Ask each candidate the same questions in the same order. (This makes it easier to record the answers and compare them later on.)
- Clarify any questions about why candidates left previous jobs or why there are gaps in employment history.
- Try to get an impression of temperament. How do they react to difficult questions? Do they display a sense of humor?
- Consider using written questions to which the candidates must write a response. This can be done at the end of the interview; e.g., give them typical classroom situations and ask them to respond.
- Use a written rating system to facilitate agreement on which candidates should be given further consideration.
Basic Philosophy and Attitudes
Planning Classroom Activities
- What qualities do you feel are important in adults who work with young children and their families?
- What experiences do you feel are important for young children?
- How do you feel about involving parents in your classroom?
- What is the role of play in child development?
Classroom Management and Relationships
- How does the physical environment affect how and what children learn?
- What do you think is important about written weekly plans? Why?
- How do your weekly plans address the individual developmental needs of young children?
- What opportunities for learning exist at meal time?
Working with Parents and Staff
- How do you handle transition times in the daily schedule?
- How would you work with a child who has frequent fights with other children?
- How would you work with a child who is shy and withdrawn?
- What would you say to a child who cries every day when his parent leaves the center?
Questions for Head Teachers and Center Directors
- How would you involve parents in your program?
- How do you feel about going into people's homes?
- What is the value of having volunteers and assistants working with you in the classroom?
- What kinds of supervisory experience have you had? Describe your approach to supervision.
OBSERVING THE CANDIDATES IN THE CLASSROOM
- Which supervision techniques do you find most effective?
- How would you help staff to prepare weekly plans?
- What techniques would you use to help education staff become better teachers or home visitors?
- What are some of the ways that you would involve parents in the program?
- What would you do if you came to work on Monday morning and one of the classrooms was flooded, two staff members were out sick, one child was having a temper tantrum, and your monthly reports were due by the end of the day?
It is strongly recommended that the interview process include a classroom observation of approximately 45 minutes to one hour, so that the candidates behavior with children, parents, and staff, their overall manner, and skills can be observed. Candidates may also be asked to carry out an activity they have planned. If so, they will need to know about this prior to the observation.
It is important to remember that some candidates may be anxious about the observation. It is helpful to allow them to spend some time, e.g., half an hour, with the children, parents, and staff in the classroom prior to the observation. Following the observation, allot time for both the candidate and observer to ask questions.
When a candidate is interacting with the children, the interviewers/observers position themselves inconspicuously in the classroom and note the candidate's performance. Questions to guide the observation are provided below.
During the observation, does the candidate:
Allow time after the observation to talk with candidates about their perceptions of the program and to respond to any questions. What candidates have to say about the program and the questions they ask can provide added insight into their abilities and attitudes.
- observe what children are doing and ask questions that promote children's thinking?
- demonstrate a sense of humor?
- listen to what the children have to say and respond to their questions?'
- show interest, enthusiasm, warmth and patience in working with children?
- speak positively and give clear directions?
- show a willingness to participate in activities including messy ones or those requiring sitting with the children?
- have the physical stamina necessary to work with young children?
- enhance and foster children's positive self-image through supportive adultl child interactions?
It is important to carry out the staff selection and recruitment process in a professional and thoughtful manner. Potential staff members are observing the program, often for the first time, as closely as they are being observed. Their decision about working in the program can be affected by the screening and interviewing procedures.
Reference checks are important and should be done carefully. Too often, they become mechanical, and give little information about the applicants. With the current concerns about sexual abuse in child care programs, it is even more important to carefully check references.
A candidate's references can be a valuable source of information about the person's prior work experience, attitudes toward children, ability to work with parents, and general work-related skills. The key is to ask the right questions. In addition, the grantee or delegate agency or state laws may require a check of all available public records regarding evidence of child abuse, child sexual abuse, or child neglect by the candidate. Check with the Director for the current requirements for background checks.
Questions should elicit information about the candidate's skills, attitudes, and abilities. Avoid those with "yes" or "no" answers. The goal is to engage the reference in a conversation about the applicant that will give a picture of what type of person the candidate is and what skills he/she has.
For professional references these questions might be asked.
For personal references, these questions apply.
- When and where have you observed the candidate working with young children?
- What skills does he/she demonstrate in working with young children?
- How long did the candidate work with you? Why did he/she leave? Who was his/her immediate supervisor?
- How well does the candidate communicate ideas and opinions to others?
- How does the candidate handle frustration and criticism?
- Is the candidate dependable? mature? reliable? Please give examples of situations you have observed that help you answer this question.
- How does the candidate demonstrate a willingness to increase his/her skills?
- How does the candidate work with parents and other staff?
One note of caution: it is advisable to consult an attorney or the regional office to be sure the questions asked do not violate an applicant's civil rights.
- How long have you known the candidate?
- In what capacity do you know the candidate?
- Where and when have you observed him/her with young children?
- What skills do you feel he/she demonstrates in working with young children?
- How does the candidate respond in stressful situations?
- To your knowledge, has the applicant had any legal convictions? If so, what are they?
FINAL SELECTION AND HIRING
The final selection should be based on judgments about each candidate's qualifications, references and record checks and the results of the interview, and observation. The personnel committee, or other group of interviewers, presents their recommendations to the Policy council/ Committee for approval. Once approved, the successful candidate should be notified. Unsuccessful candidates should be notified after the chosen candidate has accepted. There should then be an official announcement of the selection.
If unsuccessful candidates wish to know why they were not selected, the program should be prepared to justify its decision and refer to the documentation of selection procedures in showing why the candidate who was selected was deemed the best qualified.
Many programs establish a probationary or trial period for new employees. This is particularly advisable when it has not been possible to observe the new employee working with children. The probationary period should always be of fixed duration (e.g., three months) and the new employee should be told about it before he/she accepts the job.
STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESSFUL PLANNING
Work with parents and staff to develop, review, revise, or update the Education Component Plan. The participatory management process is as important as the final product.
- Refer to the plan regularly, distribute copies to the staff, and use the plan as a working document for program implementation.
- Maintain a commitment to the Head Start philosophy, goals, and objectives and find ways to promote staff and parent understanding of these principles.
- Carefully budget funds for the Education Component throughout the year. Avoid running out of money or failing to make use of the program's resources.
- Select staff who understand and believe in Head Start's philosophy, goals, and objectives.
THE PLANNING PROCESS
Arenas, Soledad. "Innovations in Bilingual/Multicultural Curriculum Development." Children Today, May/June 1980. Head Start Bureau, Department of Health and Human Services, P.O. Box 1182, Washington, DC 20013.
This article provides background information for designing a preschool curriculum that fosters the development of a group of children from diverse cultural and language backgrounds. Included are the general requirements for the four bilingual/multicultural curriculum models developed for ACYF and brief descriptions of each model.
Pokomi, Judith. Program Planning Guide. Head Start Resource and Training Center, 4321 Hartwick Road, L-220, College Park, MD 20740. 1979. $10.00.
This is a guide to developing written plans for Head Start administrators and component coordinators. It is a participatory management guide for analyzing the needs of the community alongside Performance Standards goals and objectives.
Pokorni, Judith. Program Planning and Beyond. Head Start Resource and Training Center, 4321 Hartwick Road, L-220, College Park, MD 20740. 1981. $12.00.
This sequel to the Program Planning Guide addresses all three management functions:
planning, implementation, and evaluation. It includes the community needs assessment, cross-component planning, and the development of functional strategies.
Carolina Developmental Curriculum: Structured Learning Activities, Ages 3-6. Walker Educational Book Co., 720 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10019. 1980. $98.50 for three-volume set. Individual volumes also available.
The information included in the three volumes is organized as follows: Activities in Gross Motor, Fine Motor, and Visual Perception; Activities in Reasoning, Receptive Language, and Expressive Language; and Activities in Social-Emotional Development.
Cherry, Clare. The Early Childhood Library. Pitman Learning, Inc., 1020 Plain St., Marshfield, MA 02050.
· Creative Art for the Developing Child: A Teacher's Handbook for Early Childhood Ed ucation. 1972. $8.95.
This book addresses ways in which creative art becomes developmental art. The program is self-starting and self-pacing; goals are directed toward academic and personal advancement.
· Creative Play for the Developing Child. 1976. $11.95.
Creative Play is a comprehensive presentation of the value of play activities of children in a nursery school setting. Emphasis is on the physical and intellectual benefits of all forms of play.
· Creative Movement for the Developing Child. 1971 $5.95.
Creative Movement is a total program of rhythmic activities for preschool children. It includes more than 200 goal-directed activities as well as singing and listening materials.
Creative Associates, Inc. The Creative Curriculum for Early Childhood. P.D. Press, Creative Associates, Inc., 3201 New Mexico Avenue, NW, Suite 270, Washington, DC 20016. 1979. $59.55 plus postage and handling for nine-volume set. Individual volumes also available.
This comprehensive curriculum provides both practical and theoretical information on four major areas of early childhood education: blocks, art, table toys, and the house corner. The nine-volume curriculum package includes a teacher's manual and trainer's guide for each of the four areas and a. resource materials manual. The curriculum stresses the children's use of materials and teacher-child interaction.
Hohmann, Mary; Banet, Bernard; and Weikart, David. Young Children in Action: A Manual for Preschool Educators. The High Scope Educational Research Foundation, 600 N. River Street, Ypsilanti,MI 48195. 1979. $15.00.
This two-part, cognitively oriented curriculum, which is based on Jean Piaget's findings on the developmental stages of children, centers around the theme that children learn through active encounters with reality. The teacher's primary goal is to promote this active learning. Part I discusses the administrative aspects of classroom management; Part II describes key experiences for cognitive development. Suggestions on how the curriculum can be adapted for bilngual/multicultural programs and for children with special needs are also included.
Portage Guide to Early Education. Portage Project, CESA 12; Box 564, Portage, WI 53901.
This curriculum was developed to serve as a guide to teachers and others who need to assess a child's behavior and plan realistic curriculum goals that lead to additional skills. Package includes a developmental checklist, a card file of activities, and an instruction booklet
BILINGUAL/MULTICULTURAL CURRICULUM MODELS
ACYF funded the development of these four curriculum models specifically for use in the the Head Start Program.
High/Scope Educational Research Foundation. Un Marco Abierto. High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 600 N. River Street, Ypsilanti, MI 48197. $300-Complete set to include a text, 9 cassette tapes and 7 filmstrips. Text is available for $25.00.
This curriculum is based on High Scope's Young Children in Action Curriculum and is cognitively oriented, child centered, and experience oriented. This model emphasizes the importance of providing opportunities for the child to become directly involved with other people, objects, and situations. It also provides teachers with recommended strategies for recognizing the unique attributes of each child and his or her family and community, and providing a classroom environment that reflects the child's culture and environment, invites the child to become actively involved in learning, and encourages each child to plan and make decisions.
Aspects of cultural learning are viewed as integral parts of the child's everyday classroom experience. Members of the children's families and communities are directly involved in classroom activities, and field trips are used to expand the children's culture base. This program incorporates the natural approach to language learning, integrating it with ongoing activities, rather than presented or developed through a set of specified language lessons.
Intercultural Development Research Association. Nuevo Amanecer. Lincoinwood, IL: National Textbook Co., 4255 West Touhy Avenue, Lincolnwood, IL 60646. 1985. $103.95.
The AMANECER model views learning as a continuous process in which children's experiences are used as the basis for helping them gather more information about themselves, other people, objects, and events. Rather than prescribe exactly what activities should be conducted, and how, when, and for whom, AMANECER provides teachers with basic information, guiding principles, and steps needed to make specific decisions about the learning environment and the activities used to incorporate culture into the classroom. A second language is introduced only after concepts or ideas have been mastered in the child's stronger, first language. The second language is then applied to ideas, events, or situations already familiar to the child. The four-volume package includes a Teacher's Reference Book, a Learning Center Idea Book, a Circle Time Activity Book, and a Master Sheet Book.
Nuevas Fronteras de Aprendizaje. Pergamon Press, Inc., Maxwell House, Fairfiew Park, Elmsford, NY 10523. Complete set-$636. Individual volumes are also available.
This model acknowledges that cultural backgrounds and individual experiences influence the cognitive styles children prefer to use. The bicultural goal of the model is addressed through the cultural content of the program, the main thrust of which is using a variety of songs, stories, games, and other activities that reflect elements of Mexican and Mexican-American culture. Biculturalism is also reflected in and enhanced by the model's approach to language development, which gives first priority to extending and developing the child's home or primary language. This program provides informal as well as more structured experiences that assist the child in acquiring and gaining competence in his or her second language.
Williams, Leslie R., and Degaetano, Yvonne. Alerta: A Multicultural, Bilingual Approach to Teaching Young Children. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Jacob Way, Reading, MA 01867. $21.00.
ALERTA is a comprehensive, developmental model based on two major principles or beliefs concerning child growth and development: that growth occurs in each individual as he or she is impelled to engage in more and more complex ways of thinking, feeling, and acting; and that the total environment (including home, family, and community as well as the classroom setting) plays a crucial role in a child's growth.
The model focuses on helping each child achieve the maximum degree of bilingualism possible in view of his or her prior language experiences, length of time in the program, and amount of exposure to a second language outside the classroom. The model uses informal learning opportunities, as well as planned, teacher-directed activities with small groups of children to promote language acquisition and development. The ALERTA model recognizes, values, and builds on the unique language and cultural experiences of each child.
CURRICULUM RESOURCES-HOME-BASED OPTION
Building Families: A Training Manualfor Home-Based Head Start, 75 South 400 West, Logan,
UT. 84321. $4.00.
This manual for teachers or home visitors contains "how-to" information about home visits. It includes information on the philosophy, recruitment, planning, and implementation of home visits, record keeping, and supervision, and assists the teacher or home visitor in developing parent-focused, home-based programs.
Home Grown. ARVAC, Inc., P.O. Box 2110, Russellville, AR 72801.
This curriculum for parents and Head Start home visitors provides information to assist in the preparation for home visits. It is a full curriculum with goals and themes. Parents can use materials as a follow-up to the home visits.
Home Start Curriculum Guide. Bear River Head Start, 75 South 400 West, Logan, UT 84321. $7.50 per copy, includes postage and handling.
This guide is for staff and parents to use in a home-based setting. It is a developmental curriculum of units by topic that considers seasons of the year and holidays. It contains unit justifications, objectives, activities, and a parent guide. An appendix of recipes, art activities, songs, and stories also is included.
On Your Mark-Get Set-Go (An Orientation Process for New Home Visitors). Head Start Training Center, 925 24th Street, Parkersburg, VA 26101. $5.50, plus $2.50 handling.
Written for the supervisors of home visitors, this booklet addresses the question of how to introduce new home visitors to the Head Start program. Materials for the complete 3-week orientation process include information on the Head Start program and its policies, home visitor roles and responsibilities, and steps in planning and making a home visit.
Together, We Can. Resources for Children, Youth and Families; Child and Family Development Program. Nebraska Panhandle Community Action Agency, P.O. Box 1469, Scottsbluff, NE 69361. $6.50-Reg. VII; $8.50-other Head Start employees or programs; $10.00all others. Postage and handling not included. (Will be available in Spanish soon.)
This publication presents a full year's curriculum for preschool children and their parents, has a strong emphasis on incidental learning and teaching through everyday interactions of parents and children. The curriculum is based on the CDA competencies for home visitors.
Wolf, Barbara, and Herwig, Julia. The Head Start Home Visitor Handbook. Portage Project, CES A 5, Portage, WI 53901. 1986.
This handbook was developed to help the home visitor build an effective home-based program for Head Start children and their families. It is intended to serve as a blueprint for parent-focused home visits that help the child and family realize their full potential.