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Master Teachers’ Use of the Reflective Cycle with Teachers:
Using the Early Learning Assessment System to Enhance Writing Instruction

The Abbott vs. Burke court decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court (1998) set out standards for the implementation of high quality preschool programs.  The master teacher position evolved to coach and support teachers in meeting these standards.

Master Teachers are funded in New Jersey’s Abbott districts’ early childhood departments to provide and maintain high levels of quality by supporting preschool teachers. One master teacher is funded for approximately 20 to 17 teachers; offering assistance to improve instructional effectiveness.  A list of their responsibilities include: visiting classrooms; administering structured program evaluation instruments to measure practices in preschool classrooms; planning and presenting training opportunities to improve programmatic areas; providing follow-up support individualized to the teacher’s level of development; planning procedures for performance based assessments to ensure reliable collection of child information through portfolio review meetings and professional development; and conferring regularly with administrators and other departments to establish collaborative goals (Abbott Preschool Program Implementation Guidelines, 2006).  Since the inception of Abbott’s master teacher position, the master teachers’ primary role is to visit classrooms and act as coaches using reflective practice.  Coaching is described as in-class support, designed to provide teachers with feedback on their teaching practices in relation to students’ learning, thereby encouraging self-reflection and self-analysis in order to improve instructional effectiveness (Veenman & Raemakers, 1995).

The primary coaching process for the master teachers in New Jersey involves a reflective cycle that is based on a pre- or planning conference, observation, and post-conference, which are derived from multiple models of clinical supervision and cognitive coaching (Costa & Garmston, 2002). This process focuses on teacher reflection and facilitating collaborative learning for self-directed learning to eventually occur. This reflective cycle consists of: the teacher establishing goals with the master teachers’ assistance, the master teacher observes and collects objective data relating to those goals, and the master teacher and teacher analyze the observed data to make future instructional decisions.   Because a supervisor is usually interpreted as an evaluator that can terminate teaching positions, master teachers have the advantage of coaching teachers in a non-threatening manner, using the reflective cycle, to reflect upon and improve teaching practices.

Master Teacher Icon  In the attached ten logs, a master teacher uses the reflectice cycle with one teacher over a period of time.  This sample represents the use of the New Jersey Early Learning Assessment System – Literacy to enhance writing instruction. 

References
Costa, A.L. & Garmston, R.J. (2002). Cognitive coaching: A foundation for Renaissance schools- second edition. Norwood: MA: Christopher-Gordon.

Veenman, S. & Raemakers, J. (1995). Long-term effects of a staff development program on effective instruction and classroom management for teachers in multi-grade classrooms. Educational Studies, 21, 167-185.