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Ponnusamy, Letchmi Devi
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There is active interest globally in building effective professional development (PD) programmes, as studies have shown that PD is an essential instrument for improving teaching practices in early childhood classrooms (Lim & Torr, 2007; Martínez-Beck & Zaslow, 2006). At the same time, policy makers around the world have made increased efforts to improve professional development programmes for early childhood teachers by focusing on how these can meet children’s real learning needs. In Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, there are calls for greater alignment and coherence in early childhood teachers learning needs in both the pre-service and PD programmes in order to meet the wider goals of quality education for young children. However, there has not been much research about early childhood teachers’ perspective of what they acquire from professional development and how this affects classroom practice. At the same time, little is known about the role school leaders’ play in activating PD for the growth of Early Childhood (EC) teachers as professionals. This study therefore sets out to understand early childhood teachers’ and leaders’ perspectives of PD for continued learning. In addition, the study intends to identify how PD programmes influences early childhood teachers’ professional work. The study uses a qualitative research methodology and a maximal variation sampling design to elicit data from teachers on their different experiences during professional development and learning, and leaders’ multiple roles in supporting them. A total of 15 teachers and 5 leaders participated in the research, working in kindergartens and childcare centers. Two types of data collection techniques were used, with semi-structured interviews as the primary and classroom observations as the secondary sources of data. The insights are then triangulated with professional dialogues conducted after the lesson observation. The results of this study point to four key findings for EC teachers and leaders. Firstly, there was insufficient envisioning and meaning making by EC teachers of how the ideas from PD can be translated into engaging learning experiences. Secondly, all the EC teachers faced tensions in translating the ideas from PD because of a lack of ability in reorganizing lesson activities to meet both organizational and learner needs. Thirdly, the study also found that there was limited sustained collaborative discourse between leaders and EC teachers about the possible alignment of PD with real classroom activities and broader learning outcomes. Finally, EC teachers and schools leaders reflected better manifestation of the iTeach principles when the learning methods employed in PD was contextualized to their classroom and center’s needs. These findings point to a need for alignment between the outcomes articulated in PD programmes to changes in classroom practices and the school culture. The PD provided must be differentiated, openly discussed, and ecologically designed to bring about substantial changes in EC classroom practices. The implications of these findings for policy makers and professional development programme providers and how they can better prepare well-tailored professional development programmes for continued and sustained professional growth of early childhood teachers are then discussed.
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LB1775.6 Sar
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Appears in Collections:Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

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