Dissertation

The Impact of Instructional Coaching Paired with Implementation of Professional Learning Communities on Preschool Teacher Efficacy

Quality early education and kindergarten readiness are now nationally recognized as indicators of future success. A growing body of research links quality preschool education to lifelong benefits, including greater likelihood of high school graduation, higher educational attainment, greater contribution to the community at large, and lower impact on social services, government healthcare programs, and the justice system. In order to equitably prepare preschool students for 21st-century learning at the elementary level and beyond, preschool teachers must be provided with highly effective, continuous, professional learning opportunities. Research related to what constitutes highly effective in-service professional supports for preschool educators is very limited. Preschool programs now have state and federal funds available to support research-based in-service professional learning, but educational leaders struggle with the decision of which professional learning supports will most effectively impact instructional quality. The problem that this mixed methods study addressed was identifying an effective approach to support preschool teachers in meeting increased demand for content knowledge and instructional expertise to enhance the quality of the preschool experience for our youngest learners. Quantitative and qualitative results showed that the professional learning system approach implemented in Orange County, California, which included instructional coaching coupled with Professional Learning Community implementation over the course of the 2015–2016 school year statistically increased teacher efficacy in instructional strategies and classroom management and the ability of teachers to engage students. A teachers’ self-efficacy survey and interview results indicated that, as a result of participating in the professional learning system, teachers demonstrate a greater ability to provide instructional and behavior supports to struggling students, to accurately assess and use data to drive student learning, and to provide individualized learning opportunities.

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