Equitable learning partnerships among adults result in equity and excellence for young children.
Strengthening Early Learning to Counter Systemic Inequities
Our mutual learning model results in impact in the following areas:
- Equitable Partnerships
- Thriving Communities
We tailor our methodology to partners’ needs, elevating the wisdom of all the adults in the early childhood ecosystem to model equitable relationships and create thriving communities. Through our statewide and place-based partnerships, we are creating a nation of Optimistic Leaders for children.
Integrating a Strengths-Based Stance in Professional Learning
Too often in early learning, the path to quality improvement can proceed with a focus on problems to be fixed.
The Alabama Learning Network brings together coaches and other stakeholders to co-construct a more equitable coaching system that values teacher and coach voices, helping them collaboratively chart a path to program quality improvements.
The Learning Network shifts perspectives on the teacher-coach relationship from a deficit-based to a strengths-based lens, bringing about substantial gains in the quality of teaching and learning experiences for children.
“Before Leading for Children, I felt that I needed to go in and fix the teacher. Now I understand the importance of building a trusting and respectful relationship with my focus on the teacher’s strengths.”
Embracing Reciprocal Learning Partnerships
To create quality early learning environments, adults across the early childhood ecosystem also need access to consistent and high-quality learning experiences.
The Arkansas Learning Network shows how professional learning is most effective when adults work in partnership rather than in competition. By engaging in a certificate program focused on Coaching with Powerful Interactions and Optimistic Leadership, Learning Network members look inward to build more equitable and intentional relationships in their work.
When Learning Network members focus on understanding others’ strengths and wisdom — while also expressing their own strengths and wisdom — we see gains in quality, consistency, and equity in coaching approaches.
“I’ve adopted a new way of communicating that invites a more equal playing field, especially with teachers. It’s very easy for a teacher to see an outside specialist as someone who’s going to come in with all the answers. That’s not what we want. The language that this coaching work has given me allows me to better articulate thinking together.”
Building a Shared Sense of Ownership
To bring about sustainable gains in program quality, those at all levels of early learning systems must feel a sense of ownership of the quality improvement process.
The Mississippi Learning Network creates pathways to equitable communication across roles and organizations. With opportunities to elevate individual wisdom and to explore the collective wisdom of the group, Learning Network members actively co-create a shared vision for quality improvement.
The act of co-creation instils a sense of ownership. For members of the Mississippi Learning Network, this sense of ownership is a motivator to sustain quality gains over the long term.
“It only works if you use it. I’ve decided that it must be a lifestyle. I will be a living example of what I’ve learned and experienced!”
— Assistant Director
Building a Culture of Leadership
For many adults working in early learning, leadership can seem like a responsibility reserved for a select few directors and decision makers.
Through a targeted, place-based partnership with West Side Montessori School, LFC implemented peer coaching models to support adults across the school community to share wisdom, helping them to grow as active learners and leaders in the process.
In this culture of leadership, all adults in the school ecosystem share their knowledge and skills, learn consistently from others, build confidence in their abilities, and gain respect for their colleagues. Through this deep collaboration, they are prepared to model equitable learning and leadership for children, setting them on a path to thrive.
“Our partnership with Leading for Children has empowered me to think more carefully about my role and the way I show up for my team and colleagues each day. It has brought awareness about how I can empower other teachers to think about their impact within the community, as well. It improved my confidence in leading effective team meetings that are structured to encourage teachers to act as champions for children.”
Enhancing Communication to Build a Shared Vision of Quality
With a geographically dispersed population, achieving collaboration, consensus, and a unified vision of quality across the Wyoming early learning system was a challenge.
The Wyoming Learning Network brings together a diverse group of educators and caretakers to communicate through multiple methods and across multiple channels — including full-Network convenings, smaller Implementation Team meetings, and regular text messaging.
By facilitating regular communication, with a focus on equity, educators and caretakers from across the state are co-constructing a shared, statewide vision of quality.
“The definition, the vision, the understanding of quality came from early childhood educators themselves. It’s truly a Wyoming document. The photos in there are of our kids and the words in there are from Wyoming educators.”