As we work with programs across the country, we're seeing benefits to everyone when some everyday interactions become intentional and purposeful using the three steps of Powerful Interactions. When the quality of interactions improves, relationships grow deeper and stronger, and people become more open to growing. These subtle
changes create ripples that move – in many directions - through all roles and levels.
Powerful Interactions is an approach that each of us can apply to our work – with some practice. It does not compete with other efforts. Rather it can be used to strengthen and enrich ongoing professional development, coaching, and quality initiatives with the ultimate goal of reaching teachers and making a positive difference for young children.
Whether at the state level or with an individual school, our projects are always customized to the organization’s unique needs and culture. We begin our work by engaging in conversations with program leaders and other key stakeholders to ensure that the plan we create together is responsive to the group's unique needs. These conversations may happen by phone or depending on the scope of the work, in a face-to-face meeting. Often, we encourage a program to establish a collaborative, Powerful Interactions Design Team who can support ongoing planning of the work so that it reflects multiple perspectives and the specific needs of the local setting.
We work with programs using several different formats to support professional development conversations.
- Group workshops: Many programs begin their work by hosting a large workshop to introduce Powerful Interactions to educators in their setting. The goal is to extend learning through active participation and conversation. Initial workshops are often followed up with the establishment of study groups, more intensive seminars, or coaching.
- Individual or small group coaching: We invite colleagues to examine how they apply the skills and processes of PIs in their work and encourage them to be strategic about their relationships and decisions as they foster Powerful Interactions across the setting.
- Keynote speeches: Presentations on topics related to Powerful Interactions are also designed to introduce the PI ideas in a more interactive yet formal context.
- Documenting the learning over time: Many of our clients have decided to enlist our support in creating documentation that serves many purposes. First, the process of creating the documentation (with photos, videos, and writing) provides a method for the group to articulate their own wisdom - the story of their practice. As they engage in this process over time, they can record, core elements of practice, change over time, successes and lessons learned. They use this documentation for professional development and capacity building.
Collaborations to Support Positive Change
We have been collaborating with a wide range of people and organizations to design and implement Powerful Interactions initiatives. Here are a few examples:
Arkansas State University Childhood Services is a community service outreach charged with meeting the specialized professional development needs of early childhood educators and staff of youth development programs that cannot always be met by the typical university curriculum. Under the leadership of Diana Courson, we have engaged with colleagues at ASU Childhood Services around Powerful Interactions in many ways including providing workshops, intensive coaching seminars and creating videos. Powerful Interactions provides a foundation for professional development conversations across the state.
Arizona’s Quality First partners including United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, Valley of the Sun United Way, Southwest Human Development (SWHD), Association for Supportive Child Care (ASCC), Easter Seals Blake Foundation, and Child and Family Resources developed a state-wide initiative called Creating Connections: Using Powerful Interactions to support the wellbeing and learning of the state’s young children. The purpose of the effort was to enhance instructional support between educators and children by using Powerful Interactions as a common language for all those in Arizona’s the early childhood education community.
In addition, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona has incorporated the ideas and language of Powerful Interactions into their Communities of Practice across southern Arizona. This effort, coordinated by Naomi Karp, Director of Early Childhood Professional Development at United Way, recently included a day-long professional development conversation in Spanish.
McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership introduced Powerful Interactions to over 150 education specialists who provide support to early childhood programs within the ExceleRate Illinois initiative.
First 5 San Francisco’s Preschool for All offers universal preschool programs to serve the city’s young children and their families. Powerful Interactions was offered to teachers and also to coaches to enhance the work they do with early childhood educators.
FirstStepNYC is a birth-5 early childhood initiative that opened in Fall, 2013 in Brownsville, Brooklyn. A public-private partnership co-located at P.S./I.S. 41, FirstStep is home to The Early Education Leadership Institute created to support the work of current and future early childhood leaders. FirstStepNYC is using Powerful Interactions as a foundational approach to all their work.
The LYFE (Living for the Young Family through Education) Program is a New York City Department of Education program that provides support to student parents and high quality childcare for the infants and toddlers. LYFE began using Powerful Interactions to enhance the quality of adult child interactions and then implemented Powerful Interactions coaching techniques to move the program to a more strengths-based approach.