|Institution:||University of Central Florida|
|Keywords:||Dissertations, Academic – Education and Human Performance; Education and Human Performance – Dissertations, Academic; Early childhood education; principals' hiring practices; prek 3rd continuum; young children; elementary education; primary grades; staffing teachers; hiring policies; training; teacher preparation|
|Full text PDF:||http://digital.library.ucf.edu/cdm/ref/collection/ETD/id/6234|
Principals are considered the educational leaders of their schools and face pressure to improve the quality of education across all levels and disciplines. Principals were interviewed to understand their beliefs, knowledge, and dispositions on staffing teachers in the primary grades. A purposive sample of elementary school principals was drawn from one mid-size suburban district in Florida. Data were analyzed using Bolman and Deal's four-frame organizational theory framework, Cohen's cognitive frame, and Boote's theory of professional discretion. The data strongly suggest that principals do not understand the foundations of early childhood practice. In addition, they do not understand the differences between Early Childhood Education (ECE) and Elementary Education (EE). The principals tend to hire teachers with EE certification as opposed to ECE training. This is partially due to their lack of understanding of ECE and to the perceived advantage of being able to place teachers in a wide range of grade levels. Although all principals stated that primary teaching requires specialized knowledge, most principals consider flexibility to move teachers into the upper grades more important. Three main implications for practice are suggested based on recommendations for advocacy and public education for young children within PreK-3rd continuum initiatives. (1) Professional development in ECE should be implemented at the district level for principals to learn and understand the differences in preparation between ECE and EE teacher preparation and to demonstrate the importance of the early years of child development and education. (2) Curriculum enrichment in ECE needs to be added to higher education, graduate teacher leadership programs to demonstrate the importance of the early years of child development and education. (3) The policy for hiring should be centralized at the district level and require teachers with training in ECE for the primary grades. The limitations of the study and recommendations for future research are also discussed.