The 5 step guide to launching HiMama: tips from a director

Center Name: ABC Academy | Location: Toronto, ON

I told them to be creative and make mistakes, that was the only way they were going to learn.

Dorie Heffron is the director of ABC Academy- Beach, part of the larger Brightpath organization in Toronto, Ontario. For years, Dorie and her staff used pen and paper to communicate with their families, as well as an internal company system. Almost 3 years ago, the executive administration for Brightpath decided to make the switch to HiMama. As the director, it was up to Dorie to effectively lead the implementation of HiMama with her staff and families as well as the rest of her administration team.

With any real change there is going to be some hiccups, and you might have some staff that don’t take change very well. But I knew parents wanted those real-time updates, and that all it was going to take was some time.

Dorie Heffron

THE 5 STEPS TO LAUNCHING HIMAMA

Step 1 –  Introducing the “why” and the “how” of HiMama to set yourself up for success and support your staff

The first thing Dorie did was to hold a staff meeting and introduce HiMama to everyone as a team. Like with any change, Dorie was nervous about getting her staff on board. Out of 36 staff members at the center, Dorie shared that roughly 30 of them were hesitant to make this switch.

One of the biggest concerns her educators had was that using HiMama was going to be more work. To overcome this, Dorie kindly walked them through how in fact, this was not true. Dorie outlined all the steps they currently go through using pen and paper, and then walked them through the much shorter list of steps they will have when using HiMama. 

“I said to them, think about how you have to leave your classroom to get documentation done, think about how you have to get pictures printed, cut and size the pictures, then write something up and so on. I told them, let’s look at all these steps you are currently doing, versus sitting down in your classroom, taking a picture with your tablet, adding a note, and uploading it right then and there.”

Dorie broke down their current and new processes side by side to show them how this was meant to support them, save them time and improve the quality and delivery of their work. Once she did this, she noticed a shift in her educator’s sentiment towards HiMama. 

Comparing pen and paper to HiMama was the best way for us to really get our point across to the staff that in the long run, they weren’t expected to do more work, but that they were actually being set up to do less.

Dorie Heffron

Step 2 – Get hands-on: encourage mistakes and create a buddy system

“We started by making a practice child, and I told them let’s just practice and if we make mistakes, we make mistakes.” 

I asked Dorie how she got her staff to start feeling comfortable with HiMama, especially her staff who were the most tech hesitant. Dorie explained that most of her educators’ tech anxiety was stemming from the fear of failure. To help combat this, Dorie encouraged her staff to take it one step at a time. She clearly outlined the main features they would be using and helped them get comfortable with those first (sleep updates, food updates, photo sharing). Only then would they move on to exploring and practicing new features, such as the message center. 

During their practice phase with HiMama, Dorie had the educators build a test child into the system, so they were completely free to make mistakes and be reassured that nothing could go wrong.

You know what, at a certain point you just have to rip the bandaid off and just be okay with mistakes happening, and then be there to support when they do.

Dorie Heffron

Dorie also made a point to make sure none of her staff felt alone in their classrooms as they adjusted to HiMama. She had one educator (the most tech-savvy educator in each classroom) take the lead using HiMama and be the support person for other educators in that room who were struggling and needed a bit more guidance. Creating a HiMama ambassador in each room helped to spread the load of training, and make sure all educators felt supported.

Step 3: Outline priorities and expectations for staff and families

“I told them that for the first week, we are just figuring it out and we emailed the parents to let them know it was going to be a soft launch.” 

While launching HiMama, Dorie made sure that everyone was on the same page. She outlined the exact features she wanted her staff to explore and use right from the start. For them, it was attendance, food, and sleep. She then shared with the parents that these would be the only updates they would receive about their child for the time being. Once the educators built a stable routine with those features, the parents could expect to receive more communication.

Once staff were comfortable with the above, she had them start sharing photos and sending messages in HiMama. At this point, Dorie let families know they could now start looking forward to seeing photos of their children! Dorie not only managed to support her educators through clear expectations, but she maintained open and honest communication with families so everyone’s expectations were aligned. 

Starting with the easiest feature and making our way up was a lifesaver for us.

Dorie Heffron

Step 4: Make time to support your educators and help them build a routine

“I made sure that during quieter times of the day, meal times, or nap time I was available to support my educators.” 

To keep fear of change at bay, the administration at ABC Academy maintained an open door policy for their educators and did their best to make themselves available when any staff needed support. 

Dorie also leveraged HiMama’s delayed media sharing feature, which puts a time delay on any media shared by the educator with the parent, giving the director time to preview any photos or videos shared with families. This helped Dorie and her educators feel more comfortable when they first started sharing photos and videos with families through HiMama. 

“I used to spend maybe 20 minutes a day checking the delayed media feature and making sure everything being shared was okay to go to families. After about a month of having HiMama though I stopped feeling the need to do that.” 

Lastly, Dorie helped her educators build a routine with HiMama. She told her staff that lunch time and sleep time were the number one times for updates and recommended that each classroom build a routine that worked best for them. For example, in their infant room, whoever is monitoring the sleep room that day is the one in charge of updates. As long as the updates get done and sent to families, Dorie lets each classroom find a routine and system that works best for them.

I let the educators take ownership of the communication with the families in their classrooms, so they can plan their day accordingly. As long as they are meeting the expectations outlined per room, they can find the routine that works best for them.”

Dorie Hefron

Check our resource HERE on how other educators have built a routine and found value with HiMama at their center!

Step 5: Highlight wins!

Dorie made sure that each educator felt seen and valued for the effort they were putting into learning and using HiMama at their center. This recognition helped her educators feel proud of the changes they were implementing and helped them quickly recognize the value this change was bringing to their center.

After about 1 month we had it mastered and were giving everything HiMama has to offer to the parents. The parents loved it right away, and the educators have been able to create much deeper relationships with the families. Even with COVID regulations lifted and parents coming back into the center, parent communication through HiMama will always be important and valuable to us.”

Dorie Hefron

ABC Academy- Beach is one of many HiMama customers who have successfully launched HiMama to improve their center quality and increase parent satisfaction! We are so appreciative of the work they do every day.  Fill out the form below to learn more about how HiMama can help you save time and improve documentation!

Maddie Hutchison

Maddie is a Registered Early Childhood Educator with a Master's in Early Childhood Studies. Her specialty is in Children's Rights and she is currently a Customer Advocacy Specialist for HiMama!

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