These were some things that were running through my mind when I had too much free time recently.. (at least it was going through my mind when I had my tea breaks in the centres). I have been working as a relief staff for the past six months over, and some things have come to my mind through my past experience. At least these are the things that come to mind, if applying for work in Australia in childcare centres, or a similar context.
1) The centre must have a room just for the staff AWAY from the children where they can actually sit and rest (and compose themselves), and preferably has air conditioning/heater (very important during winter!). I have been to centres where I could barely find a comfortable place to sit when I had my breaks, and it was very difficult for me to rest.
Since I normally work for an 8 hour shift each day, I have to really contain my energy and compose myself that I have enough to maintain myself for the rest of the day. Taking time away from the eyes of everyone (staff and children), is important so that I can close my eyes, even for that 5-10 minutes, and regain composure and focus on what I could do for the rest of the afternoon. This is very important, if the children have been especially boisterous or acting up some time during the afternoon.
2)There are floaters who could come in for lunch breaks. Not all centres can afford to have floaters during lunch breaks, ya'know? This is essential because the person who comes in will be able to watch the children when the teacher writes up the main program, and needs to think and concentrates on it to write up a good one.
It'd be better if the children are able to fall asleep within 15 mins, which could be culturally different for children from asian and anglo-saxon background (which we shall discuss in another entry in future...)
3) The staff would have Programming Time. Not all centres can afford to have Programming Time either.
4) The staff would be friendly. For the past three days, I was working at a centre near Randwick, and I could barely get a word out of the Assistant who works in a room. Furthermore, it was a toddler group, so it was difficult for me to communicate with this age group. It is difficult to solicit any kind of relevant information from toddlers...If they were preschoolers (3-5 years), it would have been much easier. The assistant in the room herself was rather tight-lipped, and didn't smile much or very much friendly, so both things made it quite difficult for me to like the environment very much.
5) The centre does not have a Director who is overly pedantic. She has to have a sense of humour, able to laugh at herself, smiles at staff, and takes a joke every so often, as well as is able to motivate the staff to perform better.