Pedagogical adaptability as an essential capacity: reflective practice of applying theory to practice among first-year early childhood teachers during remote instruction

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Situated within the theoretical framework of reflective practice, this phenomenological study investigated how early childhood teachers reflected on the ways in which they were able or unable to engage in developmentally appropriate practices during the first four months of the 2020–2021 school year in the context of COVID-19-induced remote instruction. The participants were nine first-year early childhood teachers (teaching preschool to third grade) in a northeastern state of the United States. These teachers (ages 22–32 years, M= 28 years) were all females, consisting of five Hispanics, two Caucasians, one Black, and one Mexican. Except for one Caucasian teacher educating all Caucasian children from affluent backgrounds, the other eight teachers were teaching children from mostly ethnic/racial minority and low-income backgrounds. The data were collected from interviewing each teacher virtually via Zoom for 1.5 hours. A thematic analysis of the data was conducted. The findings revealed four salient themes: (1) theory-practice consonance, (2) theory-practice dissonance, (3) pedagogical challenges due to contextual constraints, and (4) pedagogical adaptability emanating from reflective practice. Collectively, the affordances and constraints engendered by the remote environment seemingly created both a fluid and a constricted space for the teachers to apply theory (e.g., developmentally appropriate practice) to practice. The findings of this study yielded important implications for preparing preservice teachers in teacher education programs and supporting in-service teachers in professional development activities.

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Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education



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