Working with Primrose, one of the country’s top pre-schools, we designed a unique professional development training, known as the Primrose QI Skills Professional Development Program (PQI).

We partnered with a team of learning designers to guide the project, which aimed to provide Primrose staff with a distinctive and engaging professional development experience.

The training was co-developed with Primrose staff after conducting a series of listening sessions across the country and developing out an ambassador program, ensuring it was both practical and impactful.

“Spud knows this material inside and out, and his demeanor in front of an audience is especially engaging. Great job!”

Greg Wolfe
Key Partner on the Project

QI Skills

We partnered with Dr. Laura Jana to develop the training using her QI (pronounced “key”) skills framework. These skills describe a set of valuable 21st century skills that are sometimes known as “soft” skills (such as emotional intelligence, creativity and grit) and are critical for toddlers – and adults – to learn. Dr. Laura Jana breaks these down into seven core categories:

  • ME: Self-awareness, self-regulation, attention, and focus.
  • WE: Empathy, listening, communication, and teamwork.
  • WHY: Questioning, curiosity and inquisitiveness.
  • WILL: Self-motivation, drive, persistence, and perseverance.
  • WIGGLE: Physical and intellectual restlessness.
  • WOBBLE: Agility, adaptability, resilience, and learning from failure.
  • WHAT IF: Imagination and creativity.

Overview of the QI Skills developed by Dr. Laura Jana

Site Visits and Interviews

Using design thinking, our first step was empathic inquiry using observation and conversation to better understand the users’ perspectives and lived experiences. This insight helped us quickly create prototypes for further feedback and refinement. We began with a series of listening sessions and site visits across the country to gather qualitative data and test assumptions about staff needs and challenges.

During the site visits, our design team aimed to get to know Primrose — the physical space, the energy of the students, and the perspectives of the teachers and staff. We hosted open-ended conversations with teachers and staff, recorded audio, and took notes to share insights with the larger design team.

Through this process, we identified several possible problems that the QI Skills Professional Development could help solve, such as reducing staff turnover, addressing perceived differences between teachers and the leadership team, and ensuring that training effectiveness was visible in the classroom. Our insights included understanding any tension between teachers and leadership, leveraging the strengths that make staff choose and stay at Primrose, and identifying existing solutions for workforce development and training.

Ambassador Program for Iterative Testing

Based on the findings from our site visits, we established an Ambassador program at select facilities. This program involved beta-testing many of the activities and training elements to gather real-time feedback from staff and teachers on their effectiveness. The iterative feedback from these Ambassadors was crucial in refining and improving the activities, ensuring that the final product was both practical and engaging.

We visited the Ambassadors twice and during these facilitated retreats, we engaged them in the co-creation process of the training itself. It was important that the staff saw themselves as key players in the design of the final product.

With the insights from our interviews and feedback from the Ambassador program, we proceeded to develop the final product. This involved overseeing and guiding the build-out of all materials, ensuring they were aligned with the needs and preferences of Primrose staff. The final training was then presented in person to the leadership team of Primrose Schools, showcasing its comprehensive nature and the positive impact it was poised to have on staff development.

Final Product Overview

The final product was a professional development kit built around Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model: Experience >> Learn >> Apply.

Leveraging the QI Skills framework, the training guided staff through the three tiers of the learning model to apply to their personal lives and work.

In addition to a database of e-learning modules that were developed, we designed the Primrose QI Skills Box (PSB) which included tangible materials for each facility. The kit included:


Experiential Activities and Experience Cards: The PQI Program begins with “Experience” through 20-30 minute Experiential Activities designed to foster connection between teachers and staff and introduce the QI skills. Corresponding Experience Cards contain detailed instructions for each workshop. Some of the workshops involved the use of simple props like the Question Cards which were housed in a “Goodie Bag” inside the box.


E-Learning Modules and E-Notes: Following “Experience,” teachers and staff move to “Learn” about specific skill sets and competencies on an online learning management platform. The program breaks down QI Skills into 50+ distinct competencies. In the Box, tangible e-Notes cards provide summaries and related tips for each competency, corresponding to the e-Learning modules. A Pocket Chart was also included to house the e-Notes and remind staff of the monthly e-Learning nuggets they could work on.


Field Notes for Application: Teachers and staff “Apply” their learning in their Field Notes — a book of extension activities to be completed individually or in groups. To support this applied learning opportunity, we developed a Coach’s Copy of the Field Notes, which provides the Education Coach at each facility with facilitation notes and detailed explanations of the pedagogical importance of the QI Skills concept.

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