New Publication Outlines Effective Coaching Practices in Early Childhood Settings

Research shows that people learn best in the context of nurturing relationships. For adults, coaching under a mentor or teacher leader is a powerful, collaborative method for learning that supports educators in refining their practice and creating meaningful learning experiences for all students.

To help coaches strengthen their work with teachers of young children in a range of settings, Bank Street’s Learning Starts At Birth released a new publication titled A Framework for Coaching in Early Childhood Settings: Drawing on Bank Street College of Education’s Developmental-Interaction Approach. The framework serves as a guide that outlines key considerations for effective coaching models based on Bank Street’s developmental-interaction approach to teaching and learning. This approach recognizes that all individuals learn best when they are actively engaged with materials, ideas, and people, and that authentic growth requires diverse and nurturing opportunities for ongoing social, emotional, and cognitive development

“Teachers enter the classroom with their own learning experiences, histories, and perspectives. Effective coaches know how to help teachers build from their own knowledge and understandings as they work together to refine their practice,” said co-author Virginia Casper, a developmental psychologist and teacher educator who has served in multiple roles within Bank Street Graduate School of Education. “The framework provides approaches for coaches to aspire to, practice, and revise as necessary in their work with early childhood educators.”

The publication begins with a snapshot of Bank Street’s history as a leader in early childhood education followed by a list of key principles that inform the College’s developmental-interaction approach, including that “good teaching and coaching is based on deep knowledge of child and adult development, understanding of subject matter, and the use of low-inference observations,” among other points.

Next, the framework presents four elements of effective coaching centered around Bank Street’s approach: Ways of Being; Development, Identity, and Culture; Educator Practice; and Complexities of the Coaching Ecosystem. Each section identifies strong practices that coaches can implement in their work with early childhood educators.

For example, the Ways of Being section defines the role of a coach as a learning collaborator who is attentive to the teacher’s progress and helps them synthesize knowledge and skills. One “way of being” that can guide coaches in creating and maintaining productive relationships is the idea that a coach “expresses authentic interest (curiosity) in who the teacher is, how they think, what they believe and their practice.”

Next, the Development, Identity, and Culture section shares practices to support child and adult development and each individual’s capacity to develop and understand their sense of self and others in the world around them within a cultural context. The framework explores how coaches can “model and engage teachers in critical reflection concerning privilege and bias and the impact they have on children, families and communities who experience systemic racism and oppression,” for example.

“We’re pleased to develop and share this framework that incorporates Bank Street’s approach and the College’s years of experience and deep expertise in coaching teachers,” said co-author Emily Sharrock, Associate Vice President, Bank Street Education Center. “We hope that policymakers and practitioners will review the content and learn to apply the framework to existing coaching models.”

As part of the publication’s launch, the Learning Starts At Birth team will host a webinar on Thursday, September 29 featuring co-author Milenis Gonzalez, New York VP of Programs, All Our Kin, and Former Senior Director, Bank Street Education Center, and Casper, who will introduce the framework and share more about powerful coaching models.

Additional co-authors of A Framework for Coaching in Early Childhood Settings include Tarima Levine, GSE ’01, Senior Director of Content & Strategic Design, Bank Street Education Center, and Annie Schaeffing, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Bank Street Education Center.

Register for the webinar or view more publications by Learning Starts At Birth.