Examining the effects of internal versus external coaching on preschool teachers’ implementation of a framework of evidence-based social-emotional practices

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Coaching is becoming widely recognized as a tool to help early childhood educators enhance teaching and build professional skills. Although effective, the use of an external coach can be cost and time prohibitive. This study examined the effectiveness of internal peer coaches as compared to external coaches in implementation fidelity of an evidence-based framework aimed at enhancing the social-emotional competencies of young children in early childhood classrooms. Fifteen Head Start teachers and 125 of their students participated in this study. The intervention consisted of training on practice-based coaching, training on the social-emotional framework, and eight weeks of coaching (eight teachers participated as internal peer coaches and seven received external coaching). Pre and post data included an assessment of fidelity to the framework and evaluation of individual child social skills. Overall, results suggest that internal peer coaches were more effective at supporting the implementation of practices with fidelity. Children in classrooms with internal coaches demonstrated a significant increase in social skills. Although more research is needed, internal peer coaching can be considered as a potential solution to the challenges of working with an external coach.

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Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education

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