Survey of Washington State Early Childhood Coaches’ Communities of Practice
Keller, West Ernst
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The need to improve the quality of early childhood education is urgent. Researchers are diligently studying which forms of professional development will yield positive changes in teacher practices. Communities of practice (COPs) and coaching have both been shown to be potentially effective and efficient means of professional development in early childhood education. Teachers who receive coaching, along with conventional training, implement the target practice for longer, with more fidelity. Teachers who participate in COPs benefit from reduced feelings of isolation, increased empowerment, and feelings of inclusion in the learning community. Despite these benefits, there is limited literature on training and professional development for the individuals tasked with facilitation of such experiences: coaches. This includes the use of COPs by coaches. COPs are complementary methods that, when used in parallel processes by coaches, could improve coaching techniques and thus lead to more effective coaching practices. The aim of this study was to gain understanding of coaches’ perceptions and experiences with COPs by conducting a survey among Early Achievers’ coaches in Washington State. This is a descriptive study with some limited exploratory correlation analyses. The research questions included: What are the demographics of coaches participating in communities of practice? What are the structural and content characteristics of the communities of practice? Finally, what benefits do coaches report as a result of participating in communities of practice? This study constitutes a first step in understanding coaches’ COPs in relation to the Washington state quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) and Early Achievers.
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