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Abstract Early Childhood Leadership: Leading For Change Karen Philips

Professionals from all academic disciplines have incorporated some type of internship, field placement or practicum into their curriculum before a student is allowed to graduate. If our profession really wants the children in our care to have a solid educational foundation we must develop and incorporate a strong mentoring or coaching program into our teacher training programs and centers. Collaboration-is also called mentoring and coaching is considered a successful strategy for preventing teacher isolation, supporting new teachers, reducing teacher turnover and improving the quality of care in early education. Mentoring is a strategy for supporting teachers as they learn and grow professionally (Love and Rowland, 1999). Coaching has been proven successful in increasing competency, and helping employees adapt to change (Starcevich, 2009). Mentoring is a relationship between an experienced person and a less experienced person. Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be (Reyes, 2010). Coaching is defined as one person guiding another person through a process, leading to enhanced performance. A coach has a set agenda to reinforce or change skills and behaviors. Coaches have an objective or goal for each discussion or meeting (Prydale, 2011). Both mentoring and coaching have been proven to enhance the quality of care offered in early care programs. The personal support given by mentors has been showed to help reduce isolation, increase job satisfaction, prevent burnout and help retain good teachers (McCormack, 2007).

When teachers return to school to learn current teaching methods they have a tendency to revert back to what is comfortable (Moore, 2011). The use of mentoring can help reduce this behavior by giving teachers the opportunity and support they need to put into practice the new skills they have learned. Pre-school education plays an important role in increasing school readiness and closing achievement gaps for children at risk. High quality pre-school programs include teachers who have been trained in early childhood education and have access to ongoing learning processes. Early childhood teachers professional development and support is a critical component in the education of young children. In the dissertation written by Carmen Sherry Brown she states that research clearly demonstrates the short and long term positive effects that high quality pre-kindergarten and pre-school programs have on childrens development. Research focused on the practice of mentoring suggests that mentoring programs can benefit the profession by cutting the dropout rate by 35%. Research also documents those teachers who dont receive mentoring leave the field sooner than those who receive mentoring (Moore, 2011). Conclusion Mentoring programs are not only good for teachers; they are good for the children and for the profession. Teachers that are mentored stay in the field longer than those who do not receive mentoring support. Children benefit from the new teaching methods that teachers learn and are allowed to practice with their mentors, thus children are better prepared when

they enter kindergarten. Mentoring programs are expensive, but the money and staff time put into mentoring programs are well worth the time an expense when we focus on the long term benefits our children will receive. Teachers and directors that I interviewed and surveyed expressed an interest in learning more about the benefits of mentoring. Developing and implementing a large scale mentoring program will take a lot of time, research and planning. Mentoring is more than showing someone how to do something; it involves allowing teachers the opportunity to explore, evaluate, and discover. Mentoring is a long term process, but the process is with the time and effort that is put into the relationship. Not only does the mentor and mentee again from the relationship, the children in our care will benefit from the new skills, renewed interest and enthusiasm that their teachers gain through a good mentoring program.