Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Mary Renck Jalongo, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Frank Corbett, Jr., Ed.D.

Third Advisor

George R. Bieger, Ph.D.


The purpose of this research study was to describe the characteristics and instructional practices of teachers certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) in the Early Childhood/Generalist category. The problem of the study is to examine if there are common characteristics that exemplary teachers use. The study rests upon the following considerations: 1) literacy learning is important and the early childhood period is prime time for language learning; 2) young children need effective and appropriate instruction which does not occur consistently; and 3) if we can describe how exemplary early literacy educators operate, it can shed light on ways to make early literacy instruction more effective. Data were collected through a series of in-depth and structured telephone interviews with NBCTs (N = 9) from California, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina and on-line teaching exhibits. The research indicated that NBCTs: 1) describe the certification process as a challenging experience that fulfilled the desire to improve their teaching performance; 2) promote early literacy through the creation of supportive classroom environments, instruction designed to meet the needs of their students, the use of developmentally appropriate practices, engagement of children in authentic literacy tasks, modeling of strategies, multiple assessment techniques, and reflection to enhance their practice; 3)grow professionally and receive support through collaboration with colleagues; 4) show characteristics of expertise in their instructional decision-making processes and through being flexible, metacognitive, and motivated to excel; and 5) describe a need for teacher education programs to provide more authentic learning experiences for preservice teachers. The study concludes that the characteristics and instructional practices of NBCTs have the potential to promote the development of expertise in early literacy educators.