Innovative practices in early childhood classrooms: what makes a teacher an early adopter?
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This basic qualitative research study focused on the internal constructions of ten early childhood education teachers who take new information acquired from workshops, coursework, or other educational venues and quickly incorporate it into their teaching. The participants were all women who work in a variety of classroom settings with two-through-six-year-olds in San Antonio, Texas. They were identified as teachers who are in the forefront in adopting new ideas in comparison to other early childhood teachers (Rogers, 2003). A wide range of experience and education levels were represented. Using the interpretive paradigm as well as the ideological framework of constructivism, a grounded theory was established in response to the research question. Of special interest were factors that can be addressed in pre-service and in-service instructional opportunities for early childhood students and professionals. There were three major findings. First, the participants expressed core moral values in relation to their jobs as early childhood teachers: they look upon their work as a moral endeavor; they have a spiritual connection to their work; and they care deeply about others. Second, they shared the character traits of a positive attitude, persistence, and flexibility. Third, they held two learning dispositions in common: they perceive and practice learning as a continual, on-going process; and they are highly reflective. Viewed together, these three findings form a continuous internal loop that impacts the external cycle of gaining new information and adopting it into classroom practice. The findings in this study parallel previous teacher knowledge research done with K-12 grade teachers in the United States and in other countries. It supports models of change that consider one's frame of reference in terms of individual belief systems and how this impacts the change process. The implication is that focusing on technical knowledge is not enough. Early childhood teacher educators must consistently employ specific strategies with their students that help illuminate and strengthen the tacit traits identified in this study.
Marshall, Ellen (2006). Innovative practices in early childhood classrooms: what makes a teacher an early adopter?. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from