Title

Authentically Preparing Early Childhood Special Education Teachers to Partner with Families

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-2020

Abstract

Engaging parents in their children’s education beginning in early childhood leads to improved academic and social outcomes for children (Brannon and Dauksas in PRISM: A Journal of Regional Engagement 1:94–105, 2012). In the field of early childhood special education (ECSE), teachers are likely to have frequent contact with diverse families, as the parent or guardian of a child in special education is a member of the individualized education program (IEP) team. A teacher’s confidence level, or self-efficacy, is associated with the quality of the learning environment, student academic outcomes, and the teacher’s ability to set and reach meaningful goals (Demirtas in Journal of Education and Training Studies 6:111–125, 2018). Therefore, ECSE teachers would greatly benefit from beginning their teaching careers with high levels of self-efficacy about collaborating with diverse families. The purpose of this study was to quantitatively measure, (a) ECSE student teachers’ self-efficacy building partnerships with families, and (b) how adequately ECSE student teachers felt their teacher education program prepared them to partner with families. The results of a national survey of ECSE student teachers are presented. Overall, respondents indicated they had high levels of self-efficacy partnering with families and that they were well prepared by their teacher education programs. Student teachers reported lower levels of self-efficacy working with families whose language differed from their own and partnering with families in the IEP process. Implications for practice are discussed by presenting various ways for teacher educators to prepare teachers to build partnerships with all families through authentic experiences in their teacher education programs.

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