The Clash & The Change
for JD Andrews Foundation
"Professional development sessions are a waste of time. I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know."
Each year, preschool teachers across the county are required to participate in professional development. The number of hours varies from state to state, but all teachers must spend time doing this.
It might not come as a surprise that professional development is a topic that causes some consternation. Refrains often include, Waste of time. Didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know. Not paid enough for this. This is not to say that preschool teachers aren’t totally committed. But rather, it’s not always a kindness to ask people who spend their entire day giving everything for our children to then spend extra time doing something that often feels redundant.
When the JD Andrews Foundation, an early childhood public health organization, approached Pierce Mill, they were interested in finding ways to leverage the professional development requirement in ways that made teachers happy, that respected their time, and that provided them something that might be found in higher paying industries, such as law or medicine. But they also wanted something that appealed to the joy and delight that attracted many preschool teachers to the industry to begin with.
The Foundation was keen on using Pierce Mill’s expertise in entertainment-education to develop an entire professional development program centered around a web series.
After pilot testing the idea and then interviewing dozens of preschool teachers around the country, Pierce Mill wrote a seven-episode web series that follows the contentious relationship between a seasoned teacher and a new hire and the journey they go on together in ultimately becoming friends. Along the way, many key health messages about developing healthy eating habits in children are naturally woven into the story lines.
In addition to writing the scripts, PM produced the entire series and made a ton of friends along the way, including teachers, preschool directors, actors, musicians, caterers, and nutritionists.
In addition to getting rave reviews amongst the target audience, pre and post testing with a cohort of teachers showed strong intention to change behavior after watching the web series.