Promoting emotional support in Head Start classrooms through teacher peer coaching

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University of Delaware
The emotional environment in preschool classrooms is an important context contributing to children's development, especially for children from economically disadvantaged families who often demonstrate deficits in social and emotional functioning. The current study describes the development of the Colleague Observation and Coaching (COACH) program, a peer coaching intervention, and evaluates the program's effectiveness for improving classroom climate by assigning teachers in 24 Head Start classrooms to either the COACH program or to a control condition. Teachers in the intervention condition received a training workshop on strategies for peer coaching and for enhancing classroom emotional support. They also participated in peer observation and coaching sessions. The effect of the intervention on classroom environment and teacher perceptions was explored. Teachers who received the intervention demonstrated significant increases in classroom observations of both emotional support and classroom organization. The peer coaching model addresses the need for cost-effective and sustainable models of professional development that are designed to improve the environment in preschool classrooms.