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Teacher Self Studio

Personal development for teaching professionals, supporting well-being through connection, creativity, and artistic materials.

Photo of Danielle Charron
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Name or Organization

Teacher Self Studio


Denver, CO, USA - to start!

What is your stage of development?

  • New Innovator, with less than one year of experience in ECD


  • Individual

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)

Widespread issues of burn-out and turnover in our field are often caused by lack of support for teacher well-being. While rudimentary responses to this problem exist (on-site wellness centers, specialists), the field lacks a neutral space devoted to teacher's personal growth. Teacher Self Studio will be the first space of it's kind to honor teachers as their whole, creative selves for their own sake.

Select an Innovation Target

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

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

Teacher Self Studio aims to cultivate a space where teachers can connect with themselves, their peers, and creative materials to support their own well-being in Denver, Colorado.

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

With the many demands placed on educational settings, teacher wellness is often viewed as an individual responsibility. Teachers separate their life experiences from their professional work, and are lacking a neutral space to connect with their peers in the context of personal growth. Teacher Self Studio will give teachers a space to unpack their baggage and connect their personal and professional lives in positive ways, with a goal of preventing burn-out and turnover among practitioners.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

Teacher Self Studio will be a physical and digital space that offers services devoted to supporting and maintaining teacher well-being. Heavily influenced by the Reggio Emilia Approach, an innovative and long-standing early childhood philosophy, Teacher Self Studio values each teacher's right to process and express themselves in the many languages provided by artistic work. Teacher Self Studio proposes a new image of the teacher - an image where educators are whole in their work, and where their personal life is viewed as a valuable resource for supporting their professional life. Services to support these values cover three overarching themes: connection with materials, connection with self, and connection with others (peers and community). Teacher Self journaling groups, meditation, provocation groups, support groups organized by life experience, open studio, advocacy groups and a Teacher Self Gallery are some of the services that will be offered in this space. A myriad of artistic materials, the in-progress and completed creations of teachers, and a bustling community will comprise the Teacher Self Studio. Teacher Self Studio offers an opportunity for teachers to invest in their own well-being in community with their peers. It also offers local centers and schools an opportunity to invest in the well-being of their teaching staff in the form of memberships. The space will also house temporary professional development efforts such as trainings, retreats, and in-service days. Teacher Self Studio will provide support for teachers regardless of their transitions in the field, giving educators a consistent resource for their well-being as the move from pre-service teaching to different settings within the field. While I am founding this space in my home state, I believe that spaces like this should exist wherever teachers may be. To meet the needs of teachers who are unable to use the services of Teacher Self Studio in person, digital versions of services will be offered to teachers nation-wide. To address the hands-on materials component in a digital space, teachers will be asked to call upon inspiring materials within their own lives. Hands-on learning in the home will be coupled with deep, meaningful conversations with other educators through technology. In addition to Teacher's Self Studio current aims, action research will be conducted starting in January 2018 to gather perspectives from teachers within Denver Metro and surrounding areas. Teacher Self Studio is open to incorporating multiple perspectives and types of service into space, with the aim of supporting teachers at the center of the work. The space will evolve to respond to the complex and changing needs of teachers. Beta testing, in digital and physical spaces, will begin soon. Teacher Self Studio will foster personal development for teaching professionals.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

1. Teacher Self Studio is for teachers. By interacting with themselves, their peers, and artistic materials in creative ways, teachers will find an outlet to nurture their well-being, a platform to share their perspectives, and a community with which to grow. 2. I have worked as an early childhood teacher, coming to know first-hand the challenge of balancing personal and professional life individually and with peers. As an administrator in the field, I have also seen the difficulties experienced by centers who may want to prioritize teacher well-being, but are lacking in resources of money, time, and people. In my work as a pedagogical coach, I often found my teachers expressing their struggles to balance the many factors of taking on such powerful work. Working with pre-service teachers while facilitating graduate level coursework, a common topic of discussion among my adult students is the desire for more tools to support their own social-emotional work.

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

Teacher Self Studio will contribute to teacher wellness, combating the effects of burn out. As teachers are equipped with tools to support their well-being, their longevity within the classroom and within the overall field will strengthen. Students will experience the benefits of having a supported teacher - such benefits include continuity of care, improved teacher performance, and improved student performance. As families within the field begin to see their child's teachers as both supported and supportive, relationships and trust will deepen. When teachers have resources to support the connection between their personal and professional lives, everyone benefits. Teacher Self Studio will also motivate organizations within the field to consider issues related to teacher wellness, and will highlight the value of supporting teachers in being whole in their work.

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

As low-income children and families navigate the institution of public education, they are frequently exposed to stressed out and burnt out teachers. Teacher Self Studio will equip teachers serving low-income populations in the Denver Metro area with the tools they need to bring the best of themselves to their work.

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

I see potential for Teacher Self Studio to become a widespread service in both digital and local spaces. Exactly how this will play out will depend on the needs of the population I aim to serve!

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

As a new stage innovator, I am navigating the feasibility of Teacher Self Studio in both digital and local spaces. Beta versions of services have been designed, and testing will go live in the new year.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

1. My inspiration comes from both my personal and professional life. Over the last four years, both my mother and my father have passed away at young ages. With each of these losses, I found myself sitting down to facilitate a read-aloud and automatically reflecting on how so many children's books are about parental love. I would offer feedback on a teacher's community board, and wonder what questions the students would ask if I included a picture of my own family. Through artistic creation, a lot of reflection with colleagues, and the passage of time, I was able to see how these losses could actually serve my work. I could produce a deeper empathy when a student had a rough drop off; I could speak with students who had experienced loss of their own in developmentally appropriate ways. As a pedagogical coach and administrator, I found myself wondering how my teachers could grow if they had a resource to help them make these positive personal/professional connections. In designing professional development paths for my teachers, I took inspiration from the creative emphasis of the Reggio Emilia Approach, and had my teachers create a depiction of their strengths with artistic materials before each professional development meeting - a "teacher self" reflection. When my teachers were given the chance to move beyond the traditional educational philosophy essay, I saw them come to life with inspiration. These two sets of experiences came together to inspire the development of Teacher Self Studio. 2. I am inspired by so much about my field. When we advocate for our youngest learners, their families, and their teachers, we are moving toward a more altruistic, intelligent, and equitable world. 3. I have worked in the field of early childhood education as a teacher of young children, an administrator and pedagogical coach, a graduate coursework facilitator, and a consultant. In my schooling, I have studied early childhood education at both the undergraduate and graduate level, holding a B.A. in Human Development and an M.A. in Educational Psychology. The Reggio Emilia Approach is a particular passion of mine. I am currently in the Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program, a graduate certificate program with an equity focus.

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

Yes! As I gather insights from teachers in the field and observe the development of Teacher Self Studio, I will remain open to meaningful collaboration with appropriate partners.

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)

I would love to hear from innovators that have experience supporting early childhood teachers and their personal or professional development.

Would you like mentoring support?

  • Yes

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

I am interested in mentoring support that will help Teacher Self Studio leverage technology to expand reach and meet the needs of busy teachers, tell effective stories, and apply meaningful marketing strategies.

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

  • Yes, share my contact information

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Iliriana Kacaniku

Hey Danielle Charron 

Welcome to the Early Childhood Innovation Prize. We're thrilled to host your idea and help it
grow further. I really enjoyed reading your idea about Teacher's Self Studio. I understand this is a new innovation, and I would like to learn what stage of proposal development you're at? If you're still in the Research phase, I'd encourage you to explore our User Experience and Feedback Toolkit
( and the
the Prototyping toolkit ( we've prepared for innovators like yourself. Both of these tools will generate valuable insights on the potential interaction that parents of and children 0-3 years old may value to guide the stations' further development. In the meantime, they will also inform you on the potential number of teachers of 0-3 year old children that you could reach out to through the program and its eventual scale. Take a look and let me know what you think and how else can we help you.

Best regards,