Fiddleheads Forest School Lead Teacher

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Seattle, WA
United States

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Job Description:

The University of Washington Botanic Gardens has an outstanding full-time opportunity for a Fiddleheads Nature Preschool Teacher.

The University of Washington Botanic Gardens Youth and Family Education programs serve over 10,000 youth ages 2-18 and their families each year through family classes, school field trips, summer camp and preschool programs.  Tucked within the University of Washington Botanic Gardens and the Youth and Family Education Programs is the Fiddleheads Forest School, an entirely outdoor preschool for students age three to five.  At the Fiddleheads Forest School, we aim to foster a sense of wonder, to guide rather than compel, and to provide room for possibility rather than attempt to constrain children’s interests to fit within a pre-existing philosophy.  Unlike traditional programs, at the Forest School our classroom grows and changes along with its students.   This dynamic environment offers an unparalleled setting for the development of self-regulation and fundamental appreciation for the natural world.  Our unique, child-driven curriculum addresses the individual developmental needs of every student, while encouraging inquiry-based learning and exploration.  Each day is approached with joy and wonder at the wide world around us.

Teachers at the Forest School act as guides, helping children to cultivate senses that are attuned to the affordances of their surroundings during a developmentally crucial time. Daily observation and experimentation on an individual and group level foster a love of science as well as social and emotional development. By providing structure in the environment, teachers encourage children to guide their own learning experience in a way that fosters the development of responsibility, independence, and executive functioning skills in order to create a strong foundation for future growth.

This position reports directly to the Supervisor of Youth & Family Education Programs and will collaborate with the Fiddleheads Forest School Coordinator to implement a year-round, part-day nature preschool, aligned with the academic calendar and based out of the Washington Park Arboretum.  During the school year, the position in tandem with the Fiddleheads Forest School Assistant Teachers, will independently teach classes of up to 14 students Monday-Friday from 9AM – 1PM. In addition the position will work with the other Lead Teacher to co-teach a Tuesday/Thursday afternoon class from 1:30-3:30PM.  This position will spend the vast majority of that time outdoors in varying weather conditions, exploring the natural world through age-appropriate lessons and activities. In addition, this position will be responsible for communicating with parents, developing curriculum, engaging in developmental and individual assessment, facilitating parent events and collaborating with other teachers.

This position serves as an important bridge between the general public whose support is crucial to the University's relations within the greater Seattle community. This position works specifically with the youngest members of our community to encourage and develop life-long relationships with both the University and the natural world. The nature-based preschool program for which this position will be teaching will be promoted to families with UW affiliation and will seek to engage University students with internship opportunities thereby enhancing the work/life experience for UW employees and students.

The successful candidate for this position will have a wealth of experience leading a preschool classroom, a deep connection the natural world and a strong desire to share that appreciation with the public to promote environmental conservation through education and recreation.

Duties include:
• Teaching and developing culturally responsive and place-based curriculum, lesson plans, and activities that support the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development of 3-5 year olds enrolled in a mixed-age classroom for 2, 3, and 5 days/week year-round; using developmentally-appropriate practices that are respectful of all children while modeling a healthy relationship with and curiosity for the natural world; and acting in a professional and compassionate manner at all times as a representative of the University of Washington and a role model for future generations. (45%)
• Ensuring the health, safety and well-being of students through site surveys and daily check-ins with students; developing and implementing on-going evaluation methods designed to aid in the creation of individualized growth plans for each student that can be shared with parents; documenting the learning and development that occurs in the classroom using a variety of methods for both internal and external use; and maintaining clear communications with fellow staff, interns, students, and their families to achieve common goals and avoid potential conflicts. (15%)
• Promoting a close relationship with parents through daily, weekly, and monthly communications through conducting regular meetings and phone calls, home visits and parent conferences; and regular family events during and outside of class time; and ensuring families feel that their traditions, experiences, and individual needs are reflected through all aspects of the program.
• Assisting with the training, coordination, and mentorship of assistant teachers and student interns and reporting on their participation in the classroom.
• Preparing, cleaning up and maintaining teaching supplies and supporting materials in a well-organized and efficient manner.
• Following all established policies, procedures and protocols related to internal and external communications, child safety, crisis management and risk management and supporting the development of new classroom risk and hazard assessment and response procedures as needed.
• Other related duties as assigned.

For detailed information on Benefits for this position click here.

A Bachelor's degree in early childhood education and three to five years of experience teaching preschool age children.

Demonstrated understanding of principles and techniques of early childhood education and the ability to implement that knowledge.  Demonstrated knowledge of the natural world and experience sharing that knowledge with children in the field. Experience supervising and mentoring volunteers.  Ability to communicate effectively with children at an age-appropriate level.  Understanding of cultural competency in the context of early childhood education.  Exceptional verbal, written, and interpersonal skills.  Ability to work as part of a team and make contributions through collaboration.  Ability to problem-solve and maintain a sense of calm as unforeseen situations arise.  Outstanding planning, organizing, and time-management skills.

Equivalent education/experience will substitute for all minimum qualifications except where there are legal requirements such as license/certification/registration.

Formal training in environmental education, botany, horticulture, biology, community engagement or related areas.  Experience teaching environmental sciences.  Experience implementing curriculum in support of the social and emotional development of children ages 3-5.  Computer proficiency with variety of software programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel, social media and email.  Creativity, flexibility and understanding necessary for working with children, parents and staff members.

The ability to work outdoors in all types of weather. A willingness to work a flexible schedule that may include occasional evening and weekend work. Ability to stand, stoop, bend, and sit, for 15-20 minutes at a time.

How to Apply:

Applications are accepted through the University of Washington's online system by following this link: