Analyzing the Job of an Early Childhood Centre

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A job analysis was conducted on a lady director of a children's centre. In this paper, she would be referred to as "jobholder", being the subject of my job analysis.

According to Pearn (1990), a job analysis is procedure that is systematically done in order to obtain detailed information regarding a job that is performed by a jobholder. It reflects the knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies that workers need in order to be efficient at work (SHL, 2001). Heathfield (2011) defines job analysis as "the process used to collect information about the duties, responsibilities, necessary skills, outcomes, and work environment of a particular job" (para. 1). That is exactly what this job analysis essay intends to present about the lady jobholder concerned.

The first step in this particular job analysis procedure was to approach the managing director of the early childhood centre discussing the possibility of her assistance in this assignment. I had to explain to her the purpose of this task and she readily agreed. I asked for her job description and she said that as a teacher, she believes that it is best to experience learning, so she recommended that I do job shadowing on two occasions to get a glimpse of her job. One day was a regular day on the job and the other day was observing her during a a special event which is the parent orientation. She said I could ask her questions along the way. So the methods used in this job analysis are job shadowing and interviews. Job shadowing entailed my tailing her in the performance of her tasks for the day as she explained them to me. She assured me that I was free to interview her informally should any queries come up on my side. The job analysis that follows includes information gathered from both job analysis methods for the smooth flow of the analysis.

Heading a children's centre entails a host of roles and responsibilities to keep it not only afloat but thriving at its optimal level. The jobholder is the managing director of a children's centre and its sister preschool. Her job is being in charge of the day-to day operation of the centre which includes the over-all management of all areas from the availability of supplies, to scheduling of staff, to interviewing parents and to budget considerations, among many other responsibilities. She is there to ensure that the centre runs smoothly. She also works with a Board of Directors composed mostly of volunteer parents. They make final decisions on some financial issues. Aside from management concerns, she also does strategic planning with staff for brainstorming other decisions for the centre and the children. Although she does not have a teaching load, she is on hand to lend her teaching skills as a reliever when necessary.

Culkin (1997) differentiates the roles of managers and leaders of institutions. Managers are involved with specific details of daily practice such as operational procedures, finances, and other policies while leaders are more involved with reflective, dynamic, value based planning and organizing. In other words, managers are concerned with setting up and managing systems while leaders give the school vision, direction, set standards and making tough decisions.

The jobholder's role is critical in the early childhood program she runs. She is a hands-on leader who needs to get into the nitty gritty details of each area of concern, as well as one who stands back to see the whole picture. According to her, the scope of her responsibilities may be overwhelming. However, since she aims for excellence, she takes all of these details to heart in order to provide a high quality of service to the community.

Many of the jobholder's roles and tasks are typical for directors of childcare centres such as personal management, staff management, training facility and maintenance management. Programming and managing children's curriculum are familiar tasks of directors as well as liasing with staff and families (Geoghegan, Petriwskgj, Bower 2003).

The jobholder is also accountable to the Board of Directors. She gives them information they need such as funding awards and presents them with options to enable them to make informed decisions. The Board makes final decisions mostly about financial/ budget issues.

As I did job shadowing, I wrote down my observations and insights of the jobholder. One of my first observations was her preoccupation with staff concerns. She claimed she had an early start to her day due to a phone call from one of her employees who cannot come to work because she was sick. Since then, my leader got busy reorganizing staff duties in order to accommodate the absence. If left with no choice, she is willing to be a reliever just so operations in the centre will not be disrupted.

One of the teachers stepped into her office just to share with her a picture of a platypus one of the children made. This showed that she is regarded as someone significant enough to share someone's delights with, even if she occupied a superior position over that person.

She also encourages her staff to attend trainings to hone their skills further by putting up paid training opportunity selections on the notice board. Teachers must remain open to new learning throughout their careers to allow for the development of new educational trends and perspectives. It is evident that early childhood leaders are needed to help influence, inspire and motivate staff to be their best. As an early childhood service Director it is crucial that he/she develops a knowledge of the various behaviours and techniques needed to help increase the effectiveness of the centre staff (Sullivan, 2003). Of course, as a teacher, she advocates high quality education for the children they serve. Her philosophy is that every child should have equal access to the service since he or she has he opportunity to reach his or her full potential.

Shoemaker (2000) contends that effective leadership 'is needed to foster purpose, creativity, imagination and drive' (p.41) within other members of staff. The jobholder is required to establish effective leadership skills and develop strategies that initiate intrinsic inspiration within employees and thus, enable them to function independently. Indeed, the jobholder is an important component of 'learning how to move from good practice towards best practice', (Rodd, 2006). Working this way, she is encouraging her employees to work towards their full potential and empower opportunities for a stimulating future within the Early Childhood field.

Although job shadowing has risks of the jobholder being uncomfortable, self-conscious or distracted by the constant following of an observer, it did not seem to be the case with my jobholder. Despite her very hectic schedule, she managed to accommodate me by granting a candid interview and allowing me to observe her in action. I gained so much from the experience, even subtle strategies she employs sycg as her hidden agenda of not setting out the chairs out during the parents' assembly to encourage them to mingle and socialize first and not to immediately find their own corners to sit and be isolated from the group.

I can see just how overwhelming her role was as a managing director, as she was always multi-tasking, and being productive at it. She says her management duties at the office takes much of her time away from the early childhood program, but I see that when in the presence of the children, she automatically shifts to the role of a caring early childhood professional. This, I witnessed when we visited the sister preschool as she encountered the young students, and during the parent interview with the new child, when she entertained him with a puzzle.

Her positive disposition is what draws people to her. Her staff is unafraid to approach her for any concern… be it inquiring about the payroll, negotiating job schedules or merely sharing an inspiring child's work done in class. Her multiple roles as an Early Childhood Centre Leader, she seems to perform at her best.

My job analysis concludes that the jobholder is an ideal, effective worker and leader of an institution.

Summary of Jobholder's Duties, Responsibilities and Work Competencies

Managerial Duties

The jobholder works on endless major tasks such as orchestrating staffing of teachers especially if one calls in sick; monitoring the centre and preschool of their adherence to high quality standards; interviewing prospective parents and briefing them of the centre's philosophy, policy and program; and on-the job training of staff as needed. She also does a lot of subsidiary work such as listing materials needed to be purchased; writing and printing the agenda of her meetings with parents and staff; overseeing the production of the monthly newsletter; coordinating with accountant regarding staff payroll; facilitating staff meetings among many others.

Organizational Skills

The jobholder is an expert in multi-tasking. In one of my shadowing sessions, I observed how many things she accomplished in one phone call. It seems as if she plans each detail before performing a task so she gets to accomplish a lot after she finishes one. She exerts best effort at the minimum amount of time. Time management is another thing she is adept at as she allots a certain amount of time for a task before she moves on to the next item on her agenda. During the job shadowing, she said we will swing by the sister preschool for a task she needed to do and be back to the centre after a few minutes for a parent interview. We were able to do so and in less than an hour, and she has accomplished everything on her "to-do" list. This she did effortlessly because she has had enough practice being a good manager of her time.

Social Skills

The jobholder has very good social skills. It does not matter whether she is faced with children or adults, but she manages to win their hearts and capture their minds when she interacts with them. During the parents' assembly, I thought not putting the chairs out was an oversight on her part and then I realized it was deliberate because she wanted them to mingle first before the meeting came to order. With children, she adjusts her demeanor to be developmentally-appropriate, so with younger children, she seems more caring and nurturing but with older children, she is more firm and expectant of their independence. She always gives due respect to each person she encounters and is always pleasant with them. With her staff, there is no doubt that she commands their respect as her presence is very arresting. However, she can be down-to earth especially when it comes to brainstorming for ideas. Her staff and teachers do not feel intimidated in sharing their ideas with her as she is very open and approachable.

Communication Skills

The jobholder always used a firm but gentle voice and knew how to use different tones and moods for different functions. For example, she was curt and businesslike on the phone when she ordered supplies. She was professional-sounding when she delivered her talk to the parents about the school philosophy, policies and program. She was always sweet and gentle with the children. Her written communication is also flawless. She is also very good in using the technology as a tool to communicate and network.