Thesis

Inclusion in early childhood education programs: improving professional development and training for preschool teachers

The study examined how the field of Early Childhood Education has
 developed over time. How the history, philosophies and theories of the past have driven
 current best practices. This study identified the progression of special education and how
 it currently impacts teachers, students and families. Previous research indicates a critical
 need to increase early childhood inclusive classrooms to meet the current laws and
 education requirements of providing a free and appropriate public education for children
 with special needs. A total of 14 participants agreed to participate in the study. Six
 teachers began the study with five completing the study. Results revealed that early
 childhood education teachers believe inclusion can have a positive outcome for all
 children, however, they perceive this work to be moderately high in difficulty. Teacher
 responses indicate a need for additional coursework and professional development in the area of inclusion and teaching children with special needs. The study included
 determining characteristics of a high quality inclusive preschool program and how early
 childhood teachers view working in inclusive environments, measuring teacher
 confidence and efficacy. Adult career and professional development models were
 researched and teachers were surveyed to determine if early childhood educators are
 likely to pursue training opportunities to enhance their skills or if they considered leaving
 the field. Lastly, this study identified key components of long term, sustained Adult
 Professional Development models.

The study examined how the field of Early Childhood Education has developed over time. How the history, philosophies and theories of the past have driven current best practices. This study identified the progression of special education and how it currently impacts teachers, students and families. Previous research indicates a critical need to increase early childhood inclusive classrooms to meet the current laws and education requirements of providing a free and appropriate public education for children with special needs. A total of 14 participants agreed to participate in the study. Six teachers began the study with five completing the study. Results revealed that early childhood education teachers believe inclusion can have a positive outcome for all children, however, they perceive this work to be moderately high in difficulty. Teacher responses indicate a need for additional coursework and professional development in the area of inclusion and teaching children with special needs. The study included determining characteristics of a high quality inclusive preschool program and how early childhood teachers view working in inclusive environments, measuring teacher confidence and efficacy. Adult career and professional development models were researched and teachers were surveyed to determine if early childhood educators are likely to pursue training opportunities to enhance their skills or if they considered leaving the field. Lastly, this study identified key components of long term, sustained Adult Professional Development models.

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