Documentation gives busy changemakers the opportunity to:
- Acknowledge and build upon successes
- Identify challenge, questions and lessons learned
- View themselves as decision makers and thinkers
- Reinforce that what they say and do matters
- Deepen collaboration as they hear their own voices,
and the voices of others
- Create a shared and collective history of progress
- Clarify steps in the path forward
Here are examples of documentation projects and purposes from my practice:
Documentation of Professional Development Conversations
"By crafting documents that include quotes, challenges and strategies with steps forward to success, I provide participants with a blueprint for change. This allows organizations to leverage and sustain the positive impact of professional development."
Professional development is an investment in time and energy, but does it work? More often than not, participants return to work so caught up in catching up that they don’t connect what they heard with what they do.
By crafting documents that include quotes, challenges and strategies with steps forward to success, I provide participants with a blueprint for change. This allows organizations to leverage and sustain the positive impact of professional development.
Over the last 5 years, as the documentarian of the Powerful Interactions Team, I have taken the lead on documenting professional development conversations ranging in length from 18 months to one day for organizations including:
- Quality First partners in Arizona (United Way Tucson, 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)
- Living for the Young Family Through Education (LYFE), the New York City Department of Education’s program to support student parents
- First 5 San Francisco Children and Family Commission’s Preschool for All Initiative.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children
Think Pieces to Promote Writing and Publication for Front Line Staff and Program Leaders
Rarely do front line practitioners (those working with children or supporting those who do so) have the time to write and share what they do and have learned. By developing Think Pieces together with individuals and teams, I help to initiate change as busy professionals hear then share their voices and wisdom in organizational publications.
I developed the first Think Pieces with colleagues at FirstStepNYC . Typically 4-8 pages long, Think Pieces are inviting to read. They contain quotes, photographs and practical hands-on tips and reflective questions. The tone is conversational. Please go to Memories and Musings to see an example: Learning to Observe and Record
Over the next year I will be working with Bank Street’s Infant and Family Center to develop Think Pieces to share the insights and lessons learned of faculty around intentional decision-making.
Documentation of a Program to Shape Next Steps and Disseminate Best Practices
"Talking with Amy about what I am doing, then seeing it written down, helps me see where we have been and where we are going. It gives me a chance to step out of the action, take a refueling breath and continue on path to create change."
–Laura Ensler, Laura Ensler Consulting, LLC and Founder of FirstStepNYC
Documentation allows program creators and innovators to track forward movement – even when the going gets tough- and to communicate that progress as they enlist the support of funders and colleagues.
With support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, I have documented The Story of FirstStepNYC in collaboration with founder, Laura Ensler, that has guided program decisions from vision into its third year of operation (2009-2016).
Often when a good program is working, others want to replicate it. But program creators rarely have the time to consider what it is that works and why. In partnership with change creators, I craft a replication document that reflects their culture; a document that tells the story, the successes, challenges and lessons learned of their work.
Working with the North Carolina Partnership for Children and Families and Work Institute between 2000 and 2002, I created three monographs that documented a shared and collective history of progress of Smart Start. These monographs were used in North Carolina and across the country as states adopt and adapt this model to create positive change for children and families.
"Amy has a unique way of not only listening but also probing people's ideas and memories to get at the very heart of a story and to communicate it in a way that resonates with everyone. Ten years after she wrote "Smart Start in Action", I was still giving that report to other states and communities to learn from in building their own community initiatives."
—Gerry Cobb, now Director of State Services, BUILD Initiative
I invite you to read more about my work: