Impacting Early Learning Quality Across Washington

As Early Achievers Program Expands, So Does the UW Haring Center’s Reach

Since 2014, the UW Haring Center and the Washington Department of Early Learning (DEL) have worked together to improve early learning programs across the state.

With the goal of universal kindergarten readiness, the Early Achievers program seeks to optimize the quality of Washington’s early learning and care programs by instituting a statewide quality rating improvement system (QRIS). The program offers a variety of supports to teachers and providers, including coaching, professional development and resources to support each child’s learning and development.

Much of the support to early learning and care staff takes place through ongoing coaching. Early Achievers coaches go out in the field and work directly with teachers and providers on the use of best practices in early learning. To support their coaching work, DEL offers ongoing professional development to Early Achievers coaches. This professional development includes a popular training at the Haring Center, a 2-day ‘Individualization Internship’.

Since beginning this partnership with DEL, the Haring Center has trained approximately 250 Early Achievers coaches through a unique model of professional development designed to increase the use of strategies to support individualized teaching, promote social-emotional development, and reduce challenging behaviors so that all children, regardless of their learning or behavior needs, can participate in high-quality programs. As the Early Achievers program expands, so does the need for the Haring Center’s work with this program.

Over the past four years, the Haring Center has facilitated more than 80 internships for Early Achievers coaches to refine their skills in the area of individualized learning and positive behavior support. These internships are held onsite at the Haring Center on the University of Washington’s Seattle campus. The internship utilizes best practices in adult learning to maximize the coaches’ skill development, including theoretical discussions, facilitated observations of Experimental Education Unit (EEU) classrooms,  guided debriefs, and a goal setting process. All activities at the Haring Center internships focus on the ability of coaches to use this knowledge in their work with teachers and providers.

“It’s one thing to know the strategies; it’s another to teach someone else to use them in a classroom,” said Associate Director of Research Jennifer Fung. “We use evidence-based training strategies to teach these professionals to coach others in the use of strategies that support inclusion.”

While much of the training for Early Achievers coaches takes place at the Haring Center, the coach training team also offers continuing support to coaches such as webinars and consultation sessions with Haring Center trainers that utilize live video feeds of EEU classrooms to demonstrate target strategies for teachers and providers who aren’t able to visit the EEU. These user-friendly, targeted training opportunities offered by the Haring Center have to an increased offering of internships each year, as well as positive reviews from Haring Center trainees, such as this one from a current coach:

“Our staff appreciates the clean, organized and extremely relevant nature and presentation of all (Haring Center) material. I can’t say enough about presenters and their knowledge; their respect for us as participants, and ease with which they presented this material.”

As part of the Early Achievers partnership, the Haring Center is also working with DEL and other partner organizations to host a new statewide Early Achievers Institute on equity-focused positive behavior support. The goal of the inaugural 4-day workshop is to build the capacity of Washington State coaches, care providers, administrators, families, family support professionals, and educators who work with children ages 0 to 5 across a variety of settings. The focus of the professional development will be to provide attendees with evidence-based, practical strategies to support social-emotional learning and address challenging behaviors in order to increase equitable access to education and care, reduce expulsion, and increase school readiness for Washington’s children.