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NEWS ARTICLES

OHIO UNIVERSITY - CHILLICOTHE

 

2018 News Education Faculty
November 11, 2018 : Community partners and Chillicothe campus faculty co-research and co-author article

 

Story by: Barbara Trube

 

Ohio University Chillicothe education program faculty Karen Corcoran, Coordinator of Professional Internships; Nancy Jones, AAS University Supervisor; Kit Kinnamon, BSEd University Supervisor; and Barbara Trube, former EC Programs Coordinator; partnered with Zane Trace Elementary School (ZTES) principal, Susan Congrove, and the Ross-Pike Educational Service District agency, Leslie Smith, PK Coordinator, to complete a qualitative case study that focused on the Professional Development Schools (PDS) early childhood intervention (ECI) partnership that took place at ZTES in Pre-Kindergarten ECI classrooms. The study, "Fostering Teacher Leadership for Mutually Beneficial Programs: An Early Childhood PDS Partnership Case Study" was published in a peer-reviewed special edition of the National Association of Professional Development Schools (PDS) Journal, entitled School-University Partnerships: Mutually Beneficial PDS Models, in September 2018, as Volume 11, Section 3, Online.

 

Although the partnership was formally agreed upon four years ago following an Education Advisory Meeting, the study took place over two-and-a-half semesters during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years.

 

Following Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, 22 participants volunteered to contribute to qualitative surveys, interviews, or samples of materials in the form of journals or anecdotal records in different aspects of the qualitative case study at ZTES. In the context of the study, “educator” referred to administrators (i.e., principal, program coordinators, university supervisors, and mentors), in-service teachers and paraprofessionals, and to OHIO Chillicothe pre-service teachers and paraprofessionals.

 

Findings from this study indicated that the ECI PDS partnership demonstrates qualities that characterize mutually beneficial partnerships due to the emphasis on the teacher leadership practices of mentoring, collaboration, reflection, and engagement in team planning and goal-setting. These practices, which draw on and support communication, shared expertise, and recognition of the priorities of all partners (the school, the agency, and the University) suggested the PDS successfully functioned as a community of practice.

 

The findings clearly reflected NAPDS essentials two and four. Regarding NAPDS essential two, “A school–university culture committed to the preparation of future educators that embraces their active engagement in the school community,” the research found a teacher and paraprofessional educator program that makes consistent use of mentoring and collaboration as primary modes of engagement of pre-service teachers and paraprofessionals in inclusive early childhood classrooms.

 

Regarding NAPDS essential four, “A shared commitment to innovative and reflective practice by all participants,” the research identified reflective practice as among the three activities rated by survey respondents as being most frequently engaged in. Reflective practice was referenced frequently in pre-service educators’ journal entries as well.  

 

In addition, the qualitative survey data revealed the themes of planning, reflecting, and mentoring. Planning was recognized by such statements as, “planning together to come up with centers, lessons, activities, trainings, book club ideas, and structure for the students,” and “working with other staff to set short-term and long-term goals with timelines for monitoring progress.” Reflecting was exemplified by such statements as, “We [the intervention team] take time at the end of the day to reflect on how it went—what worked well, what didn’t work so well, what we’ll do again and what we’ll never do again.” Mentoring was recognized in statements such as: “Peer mentoring was helpful in deciding which resources we would get and take to the classroom;” “By peer mentoring we shared tasks so we save each other time and money;” and “Reflecting together with my mentors really helped me to see my strengths and where I need to improve.”

 

Several PDS mentors commented on OHIO Chillicothe pre-service teachers' and paraprofessionals' teacher-leader behaviors in anecdotal records. Several themes pertaining to teacher-leadership were identified such as taking initiative, contributing ideas, identifying with the profession, and taking a moral/ethical stance. Some examples follow:

 

Initiative-taking

 

This intern leads students through various classroom activities and works on student learning outcomes. She led the students with a couple of caterpillar activities she created herself and took the initiative to learn about the SLO [student learning outcomes] process.

 

Contributing ideas and identifying with the profession (mentor and pre-service teacher)


In an ECIS classroom, everyone is involved in decision making and becomes accountable for the children’s progress.  

 

Inquiring with my teacher-mentor and professors has helped me gain a growth mindset as I know I will reach each level of performance necessary to help children of all ages learn to the best of their abilities.

 

Example of leadership


This student exhibited leadership by taking over the classroom when the mentor was absent; of course, a sub was there with the aide, and the therapists were also coming in. The situation is challenging, but she is gaining confidence and is taking a moral stance by doing what she thinks is right. She is gaining her teacher voice.

 

During interviews with volunteers who participated, the following statements were given by two participants, who talked about the aspects of the ECI PDS that are mutually beneficial to all partners.

 

“The elementary school is fortunate to be a partner in the EC PDS. This program has been a win-win for our school. Candidates are learning valuable best practices and seeing the diversity of our children’s needs. The preschool teachers benefit from extra eyes, extra pair of hands, and fresh perspectives in their classrooms; the teacher candidates benefit by getting real-world, hands-on experience with the growing needs of our preschool students who come from all walks of life. The needs of our children are quite diverse as we are seeing more students with behaviors, autism, and/or neglect. Our valuable partnership is an essential teaching tool that helps us to intervene with our littlest learners as we give them the best necessary ingredients for a start in life. This EC PDS partnership has made our preschool one of the best in our region!”     

 

“I feel that the partnership is a benefit to our preschool program through the new opportunities, ideas, and assistance that the students bring into the classroom. Veteran teachers are given the opportunity to mentor new teachers that often come to work in our program. New teachers often bring new technological experiences into the classroom as well as fresh ideas. New teachers are also learning the day-to-day running of a classroom from a veteran teacher, which leads to invaluable classroom management skills throughout their career. By working together to develop lesson plans, the veteran teacher and new teacher are able to brainstorm ideas and incorporate more knowledge into activities. This provides interns with even more authentic experiences. Having the extra set of hands in the classroom also provides more instructional time for students.”

 

For current information about the Early Childhood Programs at OHIO Chillicothe, contact Dr. Jamie Harmount at harmount@ohio.edu or the Child Development Center at 740.772.6120.