Simple Interactions, a project of the Fred Rogers Center in partnership with researchers at Harvard University and University of Pittsburgh, has been adopted by schools, afterschool and summer programs, and other organizations for children in 35 states and several countries, including in China, Canada, and Scotland. Under the program, educators’ interactions with children are filmed to help strengthen relationships and educators’ professional growth. The approach is inspired by Fred Rogers’ words that we learn and grow best through relationships. Junlei Li, senior lecturer in early childhood education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, developed the program based on Rogers’ belief that media can be a positive force in children’s lives. Along with recording adult–child interactions, the model highlights four elements of human development—connection, reciprocity, inclusion, and opportunities to grow. The Simple Interactions tool defines opportunities to grow as “presenting incremental challenges and matching with appropriate support.” The data collected are used as feedback for teachers and others working with children, and a one-page resource illustrating the interactions serves as a means for conversation.
Founded on the principles of partnership, collaboration, and cooperation between the federal government and school-based educators, the United States Department of Education designed the School Ambassador Fellowship program to enable outstanding teachers, administrators, and other school leaders to bring their school and classroom expertise to the Education Department and expand their knowledge of the national dialogue about education.