The current state of Early Childhood Education presents myriad opportunities and challenges. Influential politicians across the country, including President Obama, have talked about the importance of improving access to early education as well as the quality of early education. Nevertheless, persistent problems in the field remain. One pressing issue is that the early childhood workforce receives low pay, is less educated than K-12 teachers, and possesses a high turnover rate. Creating a new Early Educator Coach License offers one potential remedy for these issues.
At present, after becoming a Lead Teacher, there is no higher licensed designation that an early educator in Massachusetts can reach aside from Director. However, not every lead teacher strives to be a director. I propose that we create a new designation for teachers to strive for: Early Educator Coach.
What would be the role of an Early Educator Coach? And how would a teacher become one? One goal of the Quality Rating and Improvement System that Massachusetts is implementing to improve the state’s early childhood education workforce is to provide workers with “ongoing professional development that is linked to enhance classroom activities.” Professional development for early educators usually consists of going to one-off trainings or lectures with little follow up. Coaches could help teachers improve their practice with ongoing coaching specifically focused on individual teachers’ strengths and challenges, and serve as trusted advisers to newer teachers. Initial research indicates that long-term coaching of early educators could be a valuable component in helping improve teacher’s practice.
The question of how one would become a coach is up for debate; I propose that the coach designation could be reached by a combination of 5 years minimum classroom teaching experience, at least a Bachelor’s degree in Early Education, and the completion of at least one class specifically designed to train future coaches in coaching techniques.
Creating this new coaching designation would give less experienced teachers a valuable mentor; furthermore, this leadership role may begin to solve the issues of attrition, pay, and education mentioned earlier. Becoming a full time or part time coach could be a way for early educators to make extra money and offer them an incentive to both continue their education and to stay in the field.
Teddy has worked for over 10 years as a Pre-K Teacher at the non-profit Transportation Children Center in Boston. He also works as an adjunct professor in the Early Childhood Education Departments of Fisher College and Bay State College. He obtained his Master’s in Education from The Harvard Graduate School of Education with a concentration in Language and Literacy, a Bachelor’s degree from UMass Boston in Sociology, and an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Bay State College. You most likely will find him biking along the Charles River or watching the Red Sox.
Photos courtesy of Penn Charter and Krause Center for Innovation, used under Creative Commons License.