Implementing preschool curriculum: Mentoring and coaching as key components to teacher professional development
Brown, Carmen Sherry
MetadataShow full item record
Preschool education plays an important role in increasing school readiness and closing achievement gaps for children at risk. With public schools facing heightened accountability requirements, pre-kindergarten is one of the fastest growing sectors of public education (Preschool Yearbook, 2005). High-quality preschool programs include teachers who have been trained in early childhood education and have access to on-going learning processes. Early childhood teachers' professional development and support during the implementation of innovative curricula is a critical component in the education of young children, but their professional development is often seen as inconsistent, fragmented, and inadequate. Mentoring and peer coaching activities may be employed to support and guide teachers through the implementation process. Through the use of rigorous qualitative case study research, the purpose of this study was to explore the factors that led to teacher professional development and personal growth as they implemented a pre-kindergarten mathematics curriculum. By means of observations, interviews, and artifacts I examined the strategies and activities that supported the development of three teacher participants as they interacted with mentors and peer coaches during the implementation process. My analysis revealed that the mentoring and coaching strategies that were rooted in professional development opportunities assisted the teachers in implementing specific components of a pre-kindergarten mathematics curriculum. The professional development opportunities included high-quality facilitation and collaboration during professional development sessions, in-class support through mentoring, and embedded, on-site support through peer coaching. The teachers' eventual change did not take place in isolation. Professional growth took place during a collaborative discovery that refined their teaching practices. Experiential learning was also a mitigating factor during the implementation process. Prior learning and the professional experiences of the teachers provided a foundation for constructing, and in one case limiting; new knowledge and activities.