ENGLISH LEARNERS: QUALITY INDICATORS OF EFFECTIVE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN EARLY LITERACY FOR TEACHERS AND COACHES
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To compete in global markets American children need the opportunity to develop critical educational skills that will be necessary to enter an ever-changing workforce. Many times the first chance educators encounter children is in Prekindergarten. Prekindergarten educators are given the opportunity to equal the playing field for students of various backgrounds. One way to help bridge the gap of disparity for students who qualify for prekindergarten is to offer high quality instruction. One critical instructional skill, which research supports, is critical for future academic success is an understanding of literacy. To ensure prekindergarten students are exposed to quality literacy instruction their teachers should be attending professional development that is supported by research, content focused, and expands their own knowledge and understanding of literacy. Long gone are the days of one size fits all professional development opportunities. To compete in the 21st century educators needs to know, understand, and facilitate learning to ensure quality instruction for all students. Research supports that literacy is critical to future success. As educators we realize the importance of an early start, which for many begins in prekindergarten. Teachers need to be equipped with a knowledgeable skill set to help children develop the required skills for future academic success. Current teachers needs research based quality professional development C3 Coaching Summer Academy was implemented as a research based quality professional development. Phase I of this study focused on analyzing the perceived impact the professional development had on ELL Teacher’s knowledge, skills, and confidence in the emergent literacy skills of alphabetic principle and phonological awareness. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the outcomes. Additionally, correlations between outcomes and years of experience in teaching were computed. Phase II of this research project focused on evaluating instructional materials used during the C3 Coaching Summer Academy. The researcher developed a custom rubric, based on quality factors identified by research. The researcher applied the rubric to materials separately, creating separate outcomes. Results from the C3 Coaching Summer Academy Awareness Survey indicate that teacher’s perceptions about their overall skills, knowledge, and confidence in the areas of alphabetic principle and phonological awareness were impacted. The results revealed that teachers’ perceived impact was high, with ratings reported from moderate to major. Teachers’ reported that the greatest impacts from the professional development were in the areas of aligning standards to content, as well as allowing the teachers to practice and apply knowledge. The research clearly shows that the professional development was needed and effective in contributing to the overall skills, knowledge, and confidence of the teachers who participated. Results from the custom rubric indicate that the C3 Coaching Summer Academy lesson plans used during the professional development were rated as quality materials. When the rubric was applied to the two individual power points independently they did not meet the same high standard. The researcher concluded that when a lesson plan and corresponding power point were combined the scores reflected that the materials were of high quality. The rubric analysis reveals that the power points should not be used individually for professional development purposes, as the gaps in information may not provide educators quality professional development. These findings concur with Darling-Hammond and Richardson (2009) that insist educators need quality professional development that contributes to their skills and knowledge in order to meet the needs of students in their classrooms. No Child Left Behind also mandates that teachers receive quality professional development that contributes not only to their own knowledge, but also contributes to academic gains in the classroom. America has a long-standing relationship addressing reading instruction, as research supports that literacy instruction projects future academic success. To help plan for future quality professional development the researcher developed an action plan that can help address the needs of 21st century educators.