10 SES 16 D, Early Childhood Teacher Education
Fieldwork (i.e., periods of practice in early childhood settings) presents a valuable and influential experience in preservice early childhood teacher education programs (Cochran-Smith & Zeichner, 2009). These periods of practice, which often involve extended field experience under the guidance of an experienced cooperating teacher, are critical opportunities to building preservice teachers’ understanding of teaching and their pedagogical skill (Darling-Hammond; Hammersnes; Grossman; Rust & Shulman, 2005; Weiss & Weiss, 2001). As individuals who support preservice teachers in fieldwork, cooperating teachers play an important role in helping them make meaning of their university course work in applied settings. Despite the centrality of their role to preservice teacher development, great variation exists in the ways in which cooperating teachers perceive their role, how they link to university faculty and coursework, and the manner in which they support preservice teachers in their fieldwork (Clarke et al. 2014). This variation can lead to a “two world” phenomenon (Feiman-Nemser&Buchmann, 1985), where university learning is relatively disconnected from field based work.
In Norway, an emphasis of the importance of work based training is evident in early childhood teachers mandated, 20-week periods of workplace-based training (Ministry of Education and Research (MER)2012 : §3; Oberhuemer 2014). The Norwegian national framework for teacher education (KD 2012) points out that higher education and early childhood institutions share responsibility and are equal partners, however cooperating teachers express that their not treated as equals. This is despite the fact that Norwegian cooperating teachers are experienced pedagogues, and often have additional training/education in how to serve as workplace-based mentors. For example, cooperating teachers and directors of the workplace-based training institutions reported confusion around their supervisory role and in their final assessment of preservice teachers related to the objectives for the workplace-based training (Askland & Jul-Larsen, 2014). In addition, Eriksen (2011) found that cooperating teachers often use their personal preferences as standards in evaluation of preservice teachers, with these standards not always aligning with practices in higher education content or pedagogy course work. Hence, there is an important need to: (a) strengthen cooperation among Norwegian ECE higher education and work based training institutions and (b) examine cooperating teachers’ confidence and experience mentoring preservice teachers in their field based placements.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the use of a common framework and assessment instrument (the Classroom Assessment Scoring System: CLASS, Pianta, La Paro, & Hamre, 2008) for working with cooperating teachers during periods of practice in a Norwegian early childhood context. This study is situated with an understanding of the shared responsibility that university faculty and cooperating teachers play in the development of preservice teachers. We sought to understand how utilizing the CLASS framework contributes to cooperating teachers’ sense of confidence in their role as teacher educators and how it could be used to strengthen a shared understanding of desirable teaching and caring practices.
The CLASS Assessment: The CLASS (Pianta et al., 2008) is an observational tool that evaluates the quality of early care and learning settings by attending to various emotional, managerial, and instructional processes. As a reliable and valid tool for assessing early education quality (La Paro, Pianta, Stuhlman, 2004), the CLASS has been utilized in various international contexts (Pakarinen et al., 2008; Tayler et al., 2013; Ziv & Aviezer, 2014). In addition, recent studies demonstrate its usefulness as a frame for professional development and learning for both preservice and inservice teachers (Downer, Kraft-Sayre, & Pianta, 2009; Early et al., 2017; Zan & Donegan-Ritter, 2014). Teachers who receive professional learning opportunities around CLASS dimensions have been shown to interact with children in more positive, sensitive, and instructionally demanding ways.
This qualitative study took place around an international professional learning cooperation project between university faculty in the US and Norway and three Norwegian early childhood education settings supported by SIU (Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education). The study is part of a larger project aimed at increasing cooperation and articulation between higher education and early childhood centers. The experiences of the cooperating teachers are a main focus of study results. Procedures and Participants Participants consisted of two Early Childhood directors and seven cooperating teachers. Three university faculty (1 US, 2 Norwegian) also participated. University faculty guided professional learning sessions with early childhood staff across 18 months. Cooperating teachers representing a Municipality near Oslo were recruited from a group of cooperating teachers assigned to a class of first year student teachers. Teachers primarily worked with preschool aged children, while two worked with toddlers. The participating cooperating teachers were seasoned teachers, with professional experience ranging from seven to 16 years. Their training as cooperating teachers varied, three were working on their 15 credits in pedagogical supervision in the role of the cooperating teacher (which is required by the national framework for teacher education), while one had 30 credits and three others did not have formal training. During the project, university faculty and cooperating teachers met regularly. These sessions included professional learning on the CLASS dimensions, discussions of ways of implementing this knowledge in the supervision and evaluation of student teachers, and reflection of how the CLASS framework related to their own pedagogical practice. Data sources included: (1) field notes from the seminars, (2) data from formal contracts between student teachers and cooperating teachers, and (3) focus interviews with cooperating teachers. Data Analysis Qualitative, sociolinguistic methods were used to understand cooperating teachers’ experiences. Data were analyzed based on Charmaz’s (2006) description of constructivist grounded theory, which proceeded in two phases. The first phase included reading and analyzing interviews of cooperating teacher’s experiences. During this first phase, data were open coded with attention to documenting the myriad ways that teachers made connections or disconnections with the CLASS framework. The second analytic phase included thematic analysis that involved going back into the data with the codes in mind and generating themes that connected teachers’ ideas together. Themes are discussed in more detail in the Results Section.
The main intention of this study was to implement a common language (using the CLASS tool) related to caregiver-child interactions in order to provide a mutual professional knowledge base in supervision and feedback to student teachers. This project sought insight into how to improve cooperating teachers’ competencies in assessing and providing feedback to student teachers. Thematic analyses revealed general coherence in theoretical perspectives between university and cooperating teachers that were already part of the curriculum. For example, teachers endorsed the importance of responsive relationships with children and reflected on ways in which they could model these practices. Cooperating teachers reported that CLASS offered them more concrete and accurate definitions and descriptions of interactional features. Some of the CLASS principles even challenged the cooperating teachers’ thinking and led to a variety of discussions concerning best practices in general, cultural and ideological differences between US and Norwegian ECEC, and highlighted challenges in supervising and assessing preservice students. This advanced understanding and language bolstered cooperating teachers’ confidence in assessing, giving feedback to, and differentiating support for student teachers in their classrooms. Cooperating teachers reported that the CLASS was particularly useful for student teachers with insufficient interactional skills, as it gave them concrete examples and principles to focus on when supporting the student teacher. Cooperating teachers expressed that the university left them unsupported in their role and they asked for dialogue with university faculty and for organized groups of cooperating teachers and faculty members to discuss topics connected to the workplace based periods of preservice education. A not intended effect of our study was that the cooperating teachers valued the possibility to engage in a group of peers and university faculty over time where they reflected on their role as cooperating teacher and discussed matters of concern.
Askland, L. & L.S. Jul-Larsen (2014). Tiltaksplan for bedring av forholdet utdanning/praksis. Department of Early Childhood Education; OsloMet University. Unpublished report. Clarke, A., Triggs, V., & Nielsen, W. (2014). Cooperating teacher participation in teacher education: A review of the literature. Review of Educational Research, 84(2), 163-202. Cochran-Smith, M. & K.M. Zeichner (eds.) (2009). Studying Teacher Education: The Report of the AERA Panel on Research and Teacher Education. Routledge. Darling-Hammond, L.; Hammersnes, K. (2005). The Design of Teacher Education Programs. In Darling-Hammond, L & J. Bransford (eds.): Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do. John Wiley & Sons. (390-441) Downer, J. T., Kraft-Sayre, M. E., & Pianta, R. C. (2009) Ongoing, web-mediated professional development focused on teacher–child interactions: early childhood educators' usage rates and self-reported satisfaction. Early Education and Development, 20(2), 321-345 Early, D. M., Maxwell, K. L., Ponder, B. D., & Pan, Y. (2017). Improving teacher-child interactions: A randomized controlled trial of Making the Most of Classroom Interactions and My Teaching Partner professional development models. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 38, 57-70. Eriksen, O. (2011). Vurdering i praksis: rapport fra NFR-delprosjekt om kvalitet og innhold i vurderingsarbeidet i praksisopplæringen i allmennlærerutdanningen ved Høgskolen i Østfold Feiman-Nemser, S., & Buchmann, M. (1985, April). On what is learned in student teaching: Appraising the experience. In Annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, Chicago. La Paro, K. M., Pianta, R. C., & Stuhlman, M. (2004). The classroom assessment scoring system: Findings from the prekindergarten year. The Elementary School Journal, 104(5), 409-426. Ministry of Education and Research (2012). National Curriculum Regulations for Kindergarten Teacher Education. retrieved from:https://www.regjeringen.no/contentassets/389bf8229a3244f0bc1c7835f842ab60/blu---forskrift-engelsk-ny-versjon-med-endringer-15-03-2016-1.pdf Nilssen, V. (2010). Praksislæreren. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Oberhuemer, P., 2014. Ausgewählte Konzepte der fachpraktischen Ausbildung in Europa. Impulse für Deutschland. Wiff: München, Retrieved from:https://www.weiterbildungsinitiative.de/uploads/media/WiFF_Studie_22_Fachpraktische_Ausbildung.pdf Pakarinen, E. et al. (2010). A validation of the classroom assessment scoring system in Finnish kindergartens. Early Education and Development, 21(1), 95-124. Pianta, R.C. et al. (2008). Classroom Assessment Scoring System- Secondary (CLASS-S) Charlottesville. Smith, K. & M.Ulvik (2014). Learning to teach in Norway. A shared responsibility. In McNamara, O.; Murray, J. & M. Jones (eds.). Workplace learning in teacher education : international practice and policy. Dordrecht, Springer. Zan, B., & Donegan-Ritter, M. (2014). Reflecting, coaching and mentoring to enhance teacher–child interactions in Head Start classrooms. Early Childhood Education Journal, 42(2), 93-104.
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