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Thuy Rees
Pre-School Director

Child Care Job Description: Lead Teacher

August 7, 2020

Why Are Job Descriptions So Important? 

Do you have job descriptions for your center? If so, when were they developed and how often are they modified? If not, how do you find time to build them, and where do you begin? Each role in your center is so important and unique in it’s own way. Just like a family or a sports team, a child care center requires different people working together in different roles to enjoy success. By defining these roles for ourselves, our employees, and applicants we can improve communication and accountability in order to improve staff hiring, success, and retention. As always, the aim of this series is to make your life easier, and it will also help you delegate effectively by assigning the right tasks to the right people. 

Today we begin a new series on Job descriptions where I will share what I used at my center for many years, and discuss how to build and maintain descriptions that will benefit employers, employees and applicants at your center. We will touch on numerous specific roles that I had in my center, with the understanding that each center will have different needs, so it is important to think about how your specific center operates as you examine the practical advice and examples in this series.  

Let’s start with the key role of Lead Teacher.

Lead Teacher 

The Lead Teacher is unique because they are in charge of overseeing the general supervision and management of a classroom and are normally under the direct supervision of the Director or Supervisor of the center. 

My lead teachers oversaw things like the planning & prep, classroom supplies, parent communication, daily schedule, child behavioral issues and so much more for their classroom. Depending on your center and how you are set up this can also mean building curriculum from scratch or following a pre-developed curriculum plan that fits specific age groups and licensing requirements. 

Here are 3 areas to include in your Lead Teacher Job Description

1. Planning/Prep

It is important as a center to decide how you want to handle planning and prep time. Lead teachers have a large task list and many items that need to be completed each day both inside and outside the classroom. I strongly believe that in order for a lead teacher to be successful and avoid burnout they NEED a little time outside the classroom each day to get things in order. Below is the policy I implemented for all Lead Teachers, which I made clear in the interview process and included in their job description. 

Planning and Prep Policy: 

  • All lead teachers may clock in 30 minutes before school starts and clock out 30 minutes after school is over to set up and clean up the classroom. They will also receive 1 hour of planning per day that they lead, although these hours must be clocked in onsite. 
  • As we prepare for the start of the school year teachers will receive 2 weeks* of planning at the end of August to set up their classrooms (to be ready for the Meet the Teacher Event) and to lesson plan. 

*More planning time may be approved by request only.

This ensures that they have ample time to plan for the year in August, and can also stay organized and prepared throughout the school year. On-site requirements help provide accountability and promote teamwork, but you could choose to be more flexible in these unique times. 

2. Position Description

In the description section of the job description it is important to include as much information as possible. Clearly communicating expectations from the start will help you know what to look for when hiring or assessing a lead teacher, while  also ensuring you and your employees are on the same page from the start. 

Here is what I like to include in the position description section:

Role Description

A lead teacher oversees the general supervision and management of a class. The class size will depend on the age group and licensing requirement. 

Duties and responsibilities:  

  • Plan, prepare, and implement developmentally appropriate activities (i.e., learning centers, curriculum implementation, art projects, and story time).
  • Prepare materials and lessons for each day at least one week in advance .
  • Maintain a balance of activities in language and literature, music, fine and large motor skills, numbers and counting, discovery and science activities, dramatic play, and arts/crafts.
  • Instruct children in activities designed to promote social, physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual growth.
  • Attend children's basic needs by making sure they are fed and dressed and change diapers/pull-ups when required (Early Preschool). 
  • Establish and enforce guidelines for behavior and procedures for maintaining order and classroom management – using Love & Logic (www.loveandlogic.com).
  • Prepare and maintain an interesting, inviting, and organized classroom.
  • Observe and evaluate each child's performance, behavior, social and cognitive development and physical health.  Inform parents of a child's progress through Parent/Teacher conferences and regular communications. 
  • Record information pertinent to each child’s development and update child’s records as needed.
  • Supervise, evaluate, and plan assignments for teacher assistants and volunteers.
  • Perform any necessary administrative duties such as monitoring pick-up/drop-off times.
  • Embrace our philosophy, teaching style and behavior management techniques.


  • Maintain professional attitude and loyalty towards the center.
  • Treat children, parents and staff with respect and dignity.
  • Arrive for work and meetings on time.
  • Meet licensing requirements (MERIT hours within 6 months of hire and annually thereafter).
  • Attend all mandatory staff meetings (typically once/month during the school year).
  • Keep certifications current (e.g. CPR/First Aid & STARS).

3. Essential Skills and Abilities

One of the last things you should always include in your job descriptions are skills and abilities that are expected and required for the job. This will change depending on the role and licensing requirements. Including this in your job postings also helps wean out unqualified applicants before they apply. 

Here is what I like to include in the skills and abilities section:

  • 3+ years experience working with young children (birth-6 years).
  • Bachelor’s Degree in related field or CDA (can be completed after hire).
  • 30 hours of STARS (State) Training within 6 months of hire.
  • Completion of Early Childhood Education classes preferred min. 2 yr. 
  • Patience and flexibility; ability to manage preschoolers in a calm manner.
  • Ability to relate well to young children and adults.
  • Lesson planning skills and experience.
  • Positive attitude, reliability, and a good sense of humor.

Final Notes

Although planning and preparation is required, creating and maintaining job descriptions for each role at your center will help in hiring and assessing staff and ensure that you’re on the same page from the start. These documents should evolve with your center, whether you’re starting new, growing, or scaling back due to unexpected circumstances. I would revise my job descriptions at the beginning of each year and I recommend asking your team for help, it’s their job after all and they know best what needs to be done. This is a great way to make sure your job descriptions stay up to date and complete, and reviewing Job Descriptions throughout the year can also be added to your list of things to do when times are slow

I hope you found a few nuggets from this blog that you can use to benefit your center today. As you begin to build the perfect job description for each role in your center and start putting it into action you’ll notice a level of clarity and communication that wasn’t there before. This helps to encourage a fair and equitable workplace, by setting a written foundation for hiring, promoting, or even disciplining staff according to a consistent benchmark.  As always, let me know what you think about these tips and feel free to ask me if you have any questions!

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