Over the last decade, researchers at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) have been developing and testing supports geared to improve the quality of teachers’ instruction in classrooms. The result of this work centers on MyTeachingPartner (MTP), a suite of professional development support including individualized coaching and video resources.
MTP is now a program that is used around the world in classrooms from pre-Kindergarten to Secondary. With a new push for early learning initiatives, CASTL is partnering with stakeholders to support the successful use of MTP going to scale.
“We know a lot about the types of interactions that are most effective in the classroom and ways to support teachers in implementing these interactions,” explains Bridget Hamre, the lead investigator on the new project and an associate research professor at CASTL. “But we also know that delivering supports to teachers at a larger scale brings along a new set of issues and challenges. We need to better understand these so that we can best support programs like MTP in practice.”
In this new project, CASTL is helping to support the Nebraska Early Learning Initiatives. In partnership with Building Brighter Futures (BBF) and the Buffett Early Childhood Fund (BECF), researchers at CASTL have trained 12 coaches to deliver MTP to up to 180 early childhood teachers across the state of Nebraska.
Partners in Nebraska have completed an initial training, bi-weekly support calls, monthly group coach calls, and interact regularly though a website that steps teachers, coaches, and coach specialists through the MTP process. Lisa Wagley, an education specialist at CASTL, is the led support provider in these efforts.
“Implementing supports to enhance fidelity with a large group of teachers can be challenging,” Grace Funk said, the project coordinator and a research scientist at CASTL. “We are learning a lot about the best ways to support the coaches on the ground working with teachers.” The project also promotes a clear feedback loop of what is working or where barriers are in these partnerships.
Funk also described some of these barriers. “Some of the challenges are related to the culture or relationships already present in the preschool programs, while others center around technology and time needed to support teachers’ learning of new technology.”
This CASTL project will continue throughout the next year. Hamre hopes that the lessons learned in this work will be transferable to the other research happening at CASTL and throughout the country.