Making music in early childhood classrooms : design and implementation of an individualized teacher development program
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At present there are no nationally agreed-upon training requirements for early childhood teachers who work in preschools and day care centers. Credentialing requirements vary widely from state to state, among institutions, and among school classifications, and required credentials range from a Master’s degree for some to the completion of a single orientation, course, or Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate for others (Cryer, Clifford, & National Center for Early Development & Learning, 2003). Additionally, typical Early Childhood Education degrees or certifications offer little or no music training, even though many graduates of these programs will eventually be responsible for teaching music as part of their professional responsibilities. A 2006 national survey regarding music in accredited early childhood centers revealed that 79% of classroom teachers were responsible for leading music in their classrooms (Nardo, Custodero, Persellin, & Fox, 2006). Non-musician teachers who engage in music-making with children require not only musical skills, but also the ability to structure and lead music experiences successfully. Previous studies suggest that a combination of hands-on practice, observation, and the development of self-efficacy are fundamental aspects of competence in any domain (Hodges & Coppola, 2015; Shea, Wright, Wulf, & Whitacre, 2000; Wulf & Lewthwaite, 2009). This combination of factors has yet to be explored with early childhood teachers and music; it is unclear whether workshops, training, or observations result in the development of teacher ability, or whether other personal characteristics play a larger role. This paper describes a semester long in-service early childhood teacher development program in music, including the program’s development and implementation and the experiences of the early childhood teachers who participated. The program included individualized goal setting, peer-learning opportunities, self-assessment, and in-class mentorship while teaching music to young children. Qualitative and quantitative data from participant questionnaires, observations, video recordings, and personal interviews provide a picture of the teachers’ learning, their music-making with children, their experiences in the program, and their plans for continuing to develop the musical environment of their classrooms. Reflections include recommendations for future in-service teacher development programs in early childhood music.