Effective professional development in music for early childhood educators.

2017-01-31T04:46:38Z (GMT) by Bainger, Lucy
This study explores the experiences of three early childhood educators working in preschools taking part in a year long music collaboration. The aim of the research was to gain a deeper understanding of how best to provide practical professional development in music by listening to how the participant educators perceived and identified their needs throughout the collaboration. The aim of the collaboration was to increase the participant’s music skills and confidence through a collaborative model of professional development, to instigate long-term changes to music teaching practice. In this longitudinal, phenomenological study, the researcher acted as a consultant and mentor to the participant educators, offering materials, suggestions, guidance and expertise. Data was collected through a series of semi-structured formal interviews, regular observations of the participant’s working, followed by informal discussions. In addition, each participant kept a reflective journal which contributed to the data. The data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. This study does not attempt to generalise, but rather to gain a deep understanding of a small group of educators in the hope of identifying the essential aspects of an effective collaboration model of professional development in music, finding directions that may prove to be applicable to other early childhood educators. The study makes practical recommendations for a more systematic and effective implementation of professional development in music to improve the provision of music in early childhood education in Australia. This study found that a collaborative model of professional development, when conducted over a twelve-month period and located in the educator’s working context, was efficacious in improving and establishing the participant educators’ music skills, understandings and confidence, resulting in sustained improvements in teaching practice. To meet the educator’s needs, a music collaboration needs to address eighteen specific understandings, described here as the ‘Group of Music Confidences’, of which the first and key step was to identify and interrogate educators’ negative self-beliefs around musicality. The study’s focus was on the participants, and it is recommended that further research needs to be done which would include the impacts of changes to music teaching practice due to collaborative PD on student outcomes.