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A Conversation with Chanie: Creating Culture And Community In Your Center.

Chanie Wilschanski is an Early Childhood Leadership Coach and the CEO of Schools of Excellence. Chanie has worked with hundreds of ECE Directors and School Owners who are working to build a School of Excellence with higher staff retention, teacher motivation, parent partnership, and collaborative culture.


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On our webinar A Conversation with Chanie: Creating Culture and Community in your Center, Chanie shared her thoughts on:


  1. Gratitude Matrix

Turnover is a problem in every industry. The average turnover rate in early childhood is about 30%, but most schools have an average turnover rate at 50%. The more you increase in gratitude, the less call outs you will see. The change that you want to see starts with the leader. There is a difference between gratitude and appreciation. Gratitude is specific. If you praise a teacher and can go to the next teacher and say the exact same thing, it is appreciation. Appreciation is also gift cards, candy, lipsticks etc. They have their value, but gratitude costs nothing and once mastered has a lasting effect that will change the culture in your school. Gratitude is giving specific details to the teacher about what you saw, heard and felt about what the teacher did. Gratitude lets the teacher know: “I see you, I hear you and I value you”. When teachers are truly valued and feel that they are an important part of the organization, they are less likely to call out sick. They feel a part of something, understand that they make a difference and bring value to the organization.


  1. Myth of the Open Door Policy

Most early childhood centers pride themselves on having an open door policy that allows the school leader to be available to everybody at all times. Chanie believes a leader that is always available isn't listening. Leaders need to set boundaries on their time and provide specific one-on-one time for their teachers. If a teacher knows that there will be a specific time that she can express her ideas and concerns, she has less need to interrupt the leader. Leaders that have the focus to get tasks done are then able to give attention to their teachers at specific times. Giving from a place of generosity, not obligation.

  1. Conflict Resolution

During difficult conversations, it is human nature to protect yourself.

4 shields we use to self-protect are:

  • Blaming

  • Crying

  • Deflection

  • Victimhood

When there is blame, there is no learning. When we blame, we don’t take ownership for our mistakes. When counseling staff members that are blaming, think about the following:

  1. What information am I missing?

  2. What pressure is this person under personally or professionally?

  3. What possible policy or culture might be influencing their behavior?

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