Bank Street and Children’s Aid Co-Design Professional Learning Program for Early Childhood Educators

Research shows the quality of relationships and learning experiences during early childhood influence the development of healthy brain architecture and create the foundation for future learning.

To support educators in their work with young children, Bank Street Education Center partnered with the children and family services non-profit Children’s Aid to co-design and implement a professional learning program for preschool educators across nine of Children’s Aid’s early childhood centers in New York City. The 18-month partnership, funded by the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, focuses on creating a sustainable professional learning model that aligns with, builds upon, and strengthens existing Children’s Aid learning structures.

“We are excited to work with Children’s Aid to co-create a comprehensive professional learning program that will offer robust opportunities for growth and development among early childhood educators and leaders,” said Davia Brown Franklyn, Ed.D Senior Director of Partnerships, School System Partnerships & Programs, Bank Street Education Center. “Through the program, educators will build on their capacity to provide enriching learning experiences for young students and strengthen their teaching practices to best nurture children’s growth during this formative time.”

The collaboration began last spring with a joint review process at sites in the Bronx, Harlem, Washington Heights, and Staten Island, which included classroom observations and conversations with Children’s Aid educators. Through this engagement, Bank Street and Children’s Aid identified key focus areas, such as strengthening responsive classroom environments with an emphasis on child agency, family engagement, and culturally responsive practice and providing support around developmentally meaningful learning experiences and instructional practices.

Drawing on these findings and the College’s deep expertise in early childhood education, the team designed a tailored professional learning series that includes eight half-day virtual learning sessions for educators and on-site coaching throughout the 2023-24 school year. Twice a month, a Bank Street coach will conduct in-person visits to facilitate collaborative work with teacher teams, allow other teachers to observe and participate in coaching, and encourage teachers to expand their learning by trying new approaches and strategies.

“This program reflects both Children’s Aid and Bank Street’s commitment to supporting early childhood educators in their work with young children to create a brighter future for all,” said Margot Sigmone, Vice President, Early Childhood Division, Children’s Aid. “We look forward to implementing this work throughout the coming months and seeing the positive growth it will bring for educators and the children they serve.”

To advance the sustainability of the model beyond the 2023-24 school year, the partnership will develop a community inside the organization, including leaders from various Children’s Aid divisions, who can grow and maintain the program. As part of this work, Bank Street and Children’s Aid will meet monthly to engage in ongoing strategic planning, data collection, and reporting and share insights to inform future phases of support.

“At Bank Street, we believe responsive relationships are at the heart of all learning and our strengths-based, child-centered approach to teaching and learning is grounded in a deep understanding of child and adult development,” said Tracy Fray-Oliver, Vice President, Bank Street Education Center. “We are pleased to partner with Children’s Aid to help further develop early childhood educators who know how to create the nurturing, responsive learning environments that help young children thrive in school and in life.”