In the past year, NC Birth-to-Three Quality Initiative (B-3QI)’s statewide team of Specialists began using a Practice-Based Coaching (PBC) approach in their support for the birth-to-three workforce throughout the state. This intensive cyclical change model required in-depth training, piloting, and learning through experience. Specialists met weekly in a virtual format to reflect on each component of the PBC cycle while members of the pilot group provided insights to the team as they continued to strengthen their burgeoning skills. The team encountered challenges and successes along the way, reflecting on the many lessons learned.
What did we learn this year?
Above all, we learned the crucial role of team bonding and peer support to navigate everything from creating SMART goals in tandem with providers to understanding individual preferences in how feedback could be best provided and received. We noted that shifts in quality using PBC were more easily attained when administrators assumed an active rather than passive role in collaborating with Specialist coaches and the teachers they supported. Patience was fundamental to our continued growth; we remained flexible to accommodate daily center staffing concerns and teacher relocations. Notably, Specialists often had opportunities to work with many younger educators who were brand new to the field, and partnered with them on foundational skills in high quality birth-to-three care. The New Infant Toddler Teacher Orientation-Revised (NITTO-R) developed by B-3QI and offered through DCDEE’s Moodle site was often suggested to these fresh faces and offered fertile ground from which Specialists and providers could grow together. Unpacking NITTO content with providers as they moved through the course was rewarding, as was the focus on teaching practices drawn from ZERO TO THREE Critical Competencies for Infant-Toddler Teachers ™. For administrators, Specialists found that the Program Administration Scale (PAS) was a helpful framework for sharing and developing high quality practices to foster a positive child care and education climate.
What would starting PBC with a Birth-to-Three Specialist coach look like?
Each Specialist has a signed coaching agreement with each coachee that outlines the parameters of the partnership, the roles of each party within the partnership, and the plan for ongoing transparency and communication throughout the coaching process. Each visit is flexible, driven by the coachee, yet guided by the Specialist coach with resources, supportive feedback, and hands-on modeling. The Specialist and coachee celebrate every goal achieved and milestone reached to acknowledge the skill development taking place within their partnership.
What are providers saying about their experiences as PBC coachees?
[Our coach] is able to work within the classroom and see what’s actually happening. She’s able to give pointers based on what she’s seeing and what the teachers are telling her. She validates the teacher’s experience and is happy to step in to model different approaches. – PBC Participant, Child Care Administrator
My coach was very transparent and willing to give me and my co-teacher honest advice and pointers about goals in the classroom and awesome suggestions. – PBC Participant, Toddler Teacher
[My coach’s] knowledge and support have given me the confidence to become the teacher that I want to be. [My coach] is very engaging, and I love this about her and her honesty. I love her visits and she provides us with awesome resources, materials, and knowledge. – PBC Participant, Infant Teacher
I learned valuable information that I was not aware of before this experience. I feel so much better walking into my classroom now that I’ve been able to learn what I was doing incorrectly and what I could improve on. Also, seeing my kids enjoy the new room arrangement and toys/materials has been extremely rewarding. I’m very thankful for all the help and knowledge that I have received. – PBC Participant, Twos Teacher
[My] coaching experience was and still is valuable because [my coach] always provides valuable constructive feedback. Everything I have asked of her, she has either been able to provide or send me the resources that I needed. – PBC Participant, Administrator