During years birth to 3, children gain awareness of the self, the ability to comprehend and use language and an understanding of their and others’ emotions. At such a crucial stage of brain development, infants and toddlers are especially sensitive and responsive to their social environments. As part of their social environment, teacher-child interactions during this phase of life play a key role in healthy development.
The Infant & Toddler Intensive Technical Assistance Model Pilot Project, funded from September 2018 to September 2021, was developed to model a transformative model of TA provision to enhance the quality of infant and toddler experiences in early child care and education settings. Many TA practitioners are working to improve the environmental and instructional quality in classrooms across North Carolina; however, their impact on quality is mixed.
The project was designed to propel technical assistance (TA) practitioners beyond the traditional focus on preparing teachers for assessment and instead shift the TA paradigm to provide a more advanced coaching lens around teacher interactions and facilitation of learning for young children.
The intent was to use data to come to a consensus on the key components fundamental to building master level TA practitioners, demonstrate that highly skilled consultation and support of teachers by TA specialists can change classroom practices and meet the goal of improving infant and toddler experiences in early child care and education settings.
The pilot was operated by Child Care Services Association for the Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) network, funded through the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE).
Through the project, six TA practitioners across the state received frequent coaching to transform their coaching practices and improve how they modeled instructional strategies in the classroom. A TA mentor leader trained and supported this TA team to create “master TAs.” In turn, these TAs used their previous experience and their newfound knowledge to support not just infant and toddler teachers but also their program directors.
Thus, the Intensive TA Pilot was designed to be intensive in multiple ways and on multiple levels: (1) In addition to a simple TA to teacher coaching model, TAs themselves were also receiving regular support. (2) The classroom coaching took place for a longer period of time than is typical for technical assistance, a period of one to three years. (3) The classroom coaching was more frequent (weekly when possible), and longer in duration of meeting time, especially for those teachers who could receive in-person coaching before the pandemic.
We are happy to release the 2018-2021 Infant & Toddler Intensive Technical Assistance Model Pilot Project Evaluation report. This report discusses the results of the pilot, shares findings from data collected and reflects on the project’s successes and challenges considering the project’s initial goals.
We hope this report furthers discussion and encourages funding to support TA practitioners working with infant and toddler teachers and directors to enhance the quality of infant and toddler experiences in early child care and education settings.