"MY COACH GOT ME EXCITED ABOUT LITERACY EVEN THROUGH THIS TOUGH YEAR": TEACHERS AND COACHES' EXPERIENCES IN AN EARLY LITERACY COACHING PROGRAM
For over 100 years, reading has been a critical topic of discussion in the educationfield. Theories have been developed and revised on how children learn to read and as more research was completed (Crawford, 1995). Literacy and reading scores around the United States have been low for over ten years. In 2019, only 32% of 4th graders nationwide have been proficient in reading (NCES, 2020). Many states have developed laws around reading proficiency targeted at reaching reading proficiency by the end of third grade. Including Michigan's, the Read by Grade Three Law (Act 306 of 2016: MCL380.1280f,2016). In Michigan, the Michigan Association of Intermediate School District Administrators in collaboration with early literacy experts created the Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy (MAISA, 2016a). One county in Michigan developed a literacy coaching program for prekindergarten teachers. This coaching program was the basis for this dissertation research that explores teacher and coach experiences in the program. This research was completed as a mixed-methods case study, using both quantitative and qualitative data sources. Surveys and interviews gathered perspectives of the coaches and teachers on coaching strategies that were effective for them. In addition, the perception of the quality of relationship between the coach and teacher was investigated. Coaching was completed virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic and participants shared their experiences with navigating coaching, teaching, and using technology in new ways. Survey and interview data was analyzed using in-vivo coding to explore initial categories and then themes. The study describes a variety of coaching strategies that coaches and teachers found effective. I also compare the reported impact of an in person versus virtual coaching on teachers’ literacy practices. Constructive feedback was not only the strategy reported as used most often, but also it was perceived to have the most impact on teaching practices by both coaches and teachers. Teachers’ strong relationship with coaches affected their success; those reporting a stronger relationship also reached also their goals and gained new knowledge from the coaching program. Resources and difficulties faced varied for the teachers; these ranged from materials, budget, and available staff.
Early childhood education
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