Source: Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, Volume 34, Issue 1, p. 36–45, 2013
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The authors wanted to examine if participating as a cohort in an early childhood graduate program could facilitate the exploration, analysis, and reconstruction of teachers’ beliefs and practices of five teachers.
The participants were five bilingual and generalist early childhood teachers selected from River City School District.
They were also graduate students at one of the local Hispanic serving universities.
Data were collected through written and oral reflections from participants as part of their course assignments throughout their program of study, as well as three focus groups and individual interviews.
The findings revealed that the participants continue their professional journey by attending workshops and seminars that focus on developmentally appropriate practices.
They read professional early childhood education journals and continue to dialogue with each other.
These reflexive actions serve to validate their beliefs, ensure that teaching mirrors best practices, and provide a continuum that supports them throughout their career.
As evident in their reflections and their classroom observations, they, like many teachers, continue to struggle with the various demands within the early childhood classroom.
Although the authors acted as facilitators in the early childhood graduate program, the participants created their own community of practice that continues to serve as a support system in which deep reflection and application occur.
As a result of this process, the participants discovered inconsistencies between their beliefs and practices.
When they began resolving ethical conflicts, they also constructed new ways of talking and thinking about their practice.
The authors suggest that the process undertaken by these early childhood teachers is a model that can be emulated by other practicing teachers.
There are several recommendations that might facilitate this process.
Teachers must be knowledgeable about early childhood theory and practice if they are to provide culturally and developmentally appropriate practices.
However, early childhood teachers must engage in appropriate professional development. Therefore, to transform early childhood practice, we suggest a systematic model of professional development for early childhood teachers that incorporates a balance between critical dialogue and theory within a community of practice.
Such a model should be based on the understanding that change is gradual and requires time for planning and reflecting with colleagues.
Effective professional development is a recursive process of theory, critical dialogue and reflexive action.