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Pilot: Starting Now- Creating Communities of Reflective Practice for Anti-Bias Programs and Care for Children Birth to Three Years

We will reduce the level of racism in our communities by engaging educators, caregivers, and families in Anti-Bias Education and Care.

Photo of Judy Summerfield
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Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)

Initially we were thinking about an interactive web-based platform for the Community of Reflective Practice in the second year. We are now thinking that this needs to be part of the pilot. Our mentor cautioned us on the ability to build collaborative relationships on-line, so we will test it as part of the pilot. In addition, we received feedback that families and teachers may want to go to a website and be able learn and use the material without being part of the Community of Reflective Practice. We will post information on what we’re learning along the way so more people can benefit from the pilot.

Name or Organization

Sound Child Care Solutions Partners: Debbie LeeKeenan, an active early childhood consultant and areas of expertise include: anti-bias education, early childhood education, teacher preparation, inclusive special education, curriculum development, project based learning, and family engagement. Louise Stoney, an independent consultant specializing in early care and education (ECE) finance and policy, and Co-Founder of both Opportunities Exchange and the Alliance for Early Childhood Finance.

Geography

Located in Seattle, WA with program to expand nationally through work with Shared Service Alliance.

What is your stage of development?

  • Advanced Innovator with 3 to 10+ years of experience in ECD

Type

  • Non-profit

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Research & Early Testing: I am exploring my idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

A child’s view of themselves and others is shaped by the adults close to them. Unknowingly, parents and caregivers can influence a child’s early biases that can lead to racism in the future. By age three, children have absorbed that the climate of our society has a norm/standard of “middle-class white culture” (Winkler, 2009). Through anti-bias education for educators, caregivers, and families of children birth-three, we can all be agents of change for a more racially just and equitable society.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Service: A new or enhanced service that creates value for end beneficiaries.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

We will pilot a Community of Reflective Practice (CORP) focused on Anti-Bias Training for caregivers, parents, directors and teachers for children birth to three years. This is unique, given the focus of Anti-Bias Training is typically education and care for older children though we know the period of birth – three is the most profound time of brain development for a child. The CORP will take place in Seattle and also uniquely, we will work across the country through a web-platform connecting us with other Early Learning Shared Service Alliances.

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

Our goal is to reduce disparities in school readiness and academic achievement through early childhood teacher, director, caregiver, and parent Anti-Bias Education. Bias begins with babies, so that will be our focus. We will pay careful attention to healthy social and emotional development of children birth- three years.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

SCCS with Debbie LeeKeenan’s expertise will develop and pilot a series of 12 monthly Communities of Reflective Practice (CORP) focused on Anti-Bias Education for children birth to three years. SCCS has invested seven years in the development of our CORP with 40 teachers and directors participating over time across all SCCS centers, many of these educators taking part in CORP each year. We chose this method given K-12 professional development research reveals it is most effective to have teachers work in communities of practice or professional learning communities. In the pilot, we will explore the effectiveness of including parents in the CORP and accelerate the impact of this work through connection to other shared service alliances nationally. Monthly CORP meetings will be led by Debbie LeeKeenan and a SCCS Pedagogical Leader. The sessions will include review of reading and sharing of child development information and anti-bias education with application to teaching and caring for children birth – three years. The CORP will include opportunities for professionals and parents to collaborate with each other to support a wealth of perspectives and deepen their learning and understanding. Participants will have action items to implement between the monthly sessions in their classrooms or homes (e.g., reading a children’s book about differences and noticing how children respond to the book). Members of the CORP will bring documentation and examples from their classrooms and homes to share and get feedback from their fellow CORP members regarding anti-bias practices, questions and dilemmas. Social Emotional Development is central content for the CORP. The Anti-Bias Education Goals (Derman-Sparks, Louise and Olsen Edwards, Julie (2010) Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves. Washington D.C., NAEYC) are the center of the Anti-Bias education component, though adaptation for the developmental stages of birth – three years will be made. A component of our innovation within the first goal, the education and care is about making it possible for children to like themselves without needing to be superior and developing positive social identities. It is also about reducing the impacts of children internalizing racism. The second goal is centered on children developing awareness of difference in a way that creates interest in and empathy with differences rather than the fear of judgement of differences. In the third, each child will increasingly recognize unfairness, have language to describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts. The fourth goal is about helping children learn and practice ways to act in the face of bias. The CORP will include a component for directors and teachers on how to shift their organizations to support reflective practice and to live out the values of Anti-Bias Education in their centers.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

Many times educators attend training on the content of Early Childhood Education but the content on how to bring new practices into an organization and sustain new practices overtime is limited. Direct beneficiaries will be participants in the Communities of Reflective Practice: teachers, directors, caregivers and parents. The CORP leaders will share content on the social emotional development of children birth – three and how this applies to how a child sees themselves and their world and how their actions can counter-act the impacts and level of racism in our communities. We will include an element of how to shift an organization to an Anti-Bias program that reflects those values—making those values visible throughout. The primary beneficiary of all this work is the children: children will have a stronger start in life. Our experience with educators, caregivers, and families, and children birth-three includes: • A 10 year history of family involvement and education • Facilitation of Communities of Reflective Practice professional development groups for seven years • Management and running of infant and toddler programs at multiple centers

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

How children feel about themselves shapes their chances for success in school and life. The messages we receive about ourselves are shaped by the people who care for us. We want to change the lives of children by creating a sense of awareness and a capacity for deep attention to racism, among a child’s first caregivers.

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

Our core work is to alleviate the opportunity gap between children who receive high quality early childhood education and those who don’t. This gap disproportionately impacts children of color and children living in poverty, and perpetuates the disparities we see in school readiness and sustained academic achievement.

Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (5000 characters)

We want to disrupt the current ways that children at a very early age learn that “White America” is the preferred standard. Rather than starting Anti-Bias education for teachers and parents at the preschool age we want to create Communities of Reflective Practice for those caring for children birth – three. We received comments from the contributor community about the importance of starting young and this is confirmed by our center directors and teachers. It is also unique because we are talking about creating Communities of Reflective Practice through a web-platform to reach educators across the country. We have not heard of this being done in this way.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)

After piloting the CORP, we see an opportunity to take the CORP curriculum on Anti-Bias education and care, reflective practice and organizational transformation to an expanded group of Early Childhood Educators. This can be done through training across the country using an interactive web platform with facilitation from Louise Stoney and the Opportunities Exchange.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

Sound Child Care Solutions has a deep history of implementing Communities of Reflective Practice across our consortium. We began implementing CORP in 2010 and because of this history, we have a set of Directors who are Pedagogical Leaders in Reflective Practice who can support the development and help implement the CORP. We also have a strong infrastructure with a central office that supports the business operations of the centers and includes staff that can coordinate professional development opportunities. In support of feasibility, we are honored to partner with national leaders in the field of Early Childhood Education. Debbie LeeKeenan has extensive experience and co-authored books on Anti-Bias education. Louise Stoney of the Opportunities Exchange, will provide guidance and facilitate connection to other shared services alliances to scale the program. In addition Margie Carter, author, educator, and SCCS Critical Friend, will provide guidance on reflective practice content.

Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (5000 characters)

Once we have a developed curriculum on Anti-Bias work with teachers and parents for children birth-three, we plan to share the education with the broader community. In the past we have successfully raised funds for new programs around Anti-Bias work with educators and there seems to be even more value for the families and caregivers of children when it comes to this type of education. It is almost non-existent.

HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (5000 characters)

Our idea initially came from teachers across two of our centers asking what Anti-Bias work with toddlers and infants would look like. In addition, we have heard from parents their concern for the messages their young children may be receiving from media and their own actions. We have done CORP for preschool age educators and want to pilot something for a younger age. In our preschool CORP, directors observed increased intentional programming for more cultural inclusiveness. We will test how this concept works with caregivers and parents (the child’s first teachers) reflecting together about the child the parent and teachers care for.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

The inspiration came from center directors and teachers who see difficulty in translating existing anti-bias curriculum to infants and toddlers. We are inspired by the opportunity to improve our communities and reduce the disparities we see in school readiness, academic success and overall family well-being. This is a place of love and hope for the future. As Early Childhood Educators, we have the ability to support families and impact their child’s readiness for school and life. At SCCS’ core is a firm belief that all children deserve high quality education and that high quality, anti-bias early childhood education can reduce the school readiness and the achievement gap across race and income. SCCS started in 2006 and is a growing consortium of Child Care Centers sharing administrative and professional development costs so more resources are focused on high quality programs for children and families. Our shared services model achieves excellent results through high quality, culturally relevant, anti-bias early education for all children. We are comprised of: seven centers with 11 locations, 24 classrooms - nine are dual language in Spanish or Vietnamese -100 staff from 18 countries, who speak 15+ languages. Our Education Director and Co-Founder, Laura McAlister, will oversee the “Starting Now” Pilot implementation and evaluation. Laura has over 30 years of experience in Early Childhood Education as a teacher, center director, teacher instructor and lecturer. Her passion is in bilingual education. For more information about SCCS, see the Opportunities Exchange Website: http://opportunities-exchange.org/alliances-in-action/

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (600 characters)

We do. Our partners are described in earlier sections.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)

If you have developed Anti-Bias Curriculum for educators, parents and caregivers of children birth to three please share your ideas with us. Also, we would like to conduct Communities of Reflective Practice through a web-platform. Overall, we are interested in furthering our knowledge and impact as early childhood educators living the value of Social Justice.

Would you like mentoring support?

  • Yes

If so, what type of mentoring support do you think you need? (1200 characters)

Mentoring on the selection and use of a low cost interactive web-platform and the model to appropriately scale the CORP over time.

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?

  • Yes, share my contact information

Mentorship: How was your idea supported? (5000 characters)

The Mentoring was helpful on a couple of fronts. First, our mentor shared he thought the pilot was for parents of children of color and not all parents. Because of this we used the phrase “all of us” in a few of the above sections to better describe our concept, as this type of education could benefit everyone. He also asked us to consider getting more input on evaluation and we reached out to the world renowned University of Washington Institute for Learning and Brain Science (I-LABS) to determine if they had measures around race and identity we could use.

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Photo of MaryKay Mahar
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Hi Judy,

This would be incredibly valuable to launch in many communities. Our field is currently very focused on reducing the expulsion and suspension of very young children, as you know disproportionately minorities. But the deep work of examining bias is critical to have lasting impacts on this focus and reducing these practices. It would be very exciting to see the curriculum develop into a model that local facilitators could certify in to hold the more meaningful in person dialogue and lasting relationships replicated in local levels. Best of luck!

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