Date of Award

6-8-2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Mary Renck Jalongo, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Beatrice Fennimore, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Laurie Nicholson, D.Ed.

Abstract

Early childhood teachers are reporting increasing concerns about young children who appear to need significant support in developing the social and emotional skills necessary for school success and lifelong learning. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine early childhood teachers’ self-reported experiences and attitudes that have shaped their beliefs about guiding young children’s behavior, as well as the strategies they use to promote children’s self-regulation and their reflections on those practices. The 11 participants who volunteered to participate in this study taught in preschool programs in three early childhood settings; a public school, a Montessori school, and a center-based childcare program. The two methods of data collection used to gather information from the 11 participants were semi-structured interviews and Anderson’s (2007) Behavioral Challenges in Early Childhood Education: Professional Survey (BCECE: PS). Hatch’s description of typological analysis was used to analyze the interview transcripts. Descriptive statistics and frequency tables of the 11 strategies the participants recommended in response to the three types of challenging behaviors (e. g., physical aggression, verbal aggression, and noncompliance) were created using the SPSS 16.0 statistical software. The interview data suggested that whether the 11 participants in this study primarily cited positive or negative experiences with their first teachers, those early experiences influenced their child guidance approaches in the classroom and the ways they incorporated these experiences into their teaching. Participants also cited self-regulation skills as important behaviors critical for young children’s transition into kindergarten. The survey data indicated that when addressing verbal aggression and noncompliance the teachers were least likely to recommend suspension. However, when addressing physical aggression, several of the teachers indicated they would likely recommend suspension citing safety concerns for the other children in the class. Modeling appropriate behavior was the most frequently recommended strategy for addressing both verbal aggression and noncompliance. The findings of this study have implications for teacher education programs and childcare providers. This study stresses the need for teachers to become reflective practitioners so they can respond helpfully and appropriately to young children’s challenging behaviors.

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