An important skill for early childhood teachers involves conducting early childhood education research. Children change quickly, and so does their world. A good teacher must keep up with these changes in order to meet students’ needs. In a master’s degree in early childhood education program, teachers can learn how to initiate research, ask the right questions, note their findings and then apply new knowledge.
Research in Your Own Classroom
Teachers will find that their own classrooms are a source of data awaiting discovery. Children are always creating in the early childhood classroom. You can find relevant educational data in children’s drawings, journal entries, worksheets, narratives, photos, videos, block constructions, sand play, dramatic play enactments and performances — as well as in anecdotal notes on children’s activities. Studying the children’s output will reveal commonalities and differences. In a master’s degree in early childhood education program, degree candidates learn how to ask good questions about their classroom research, and enrich their discovery through applied theories of interpretation. Finally, they determine what their early childhood education research means and how it will affect their teaching going forward.
Teacher Research Tools
There are three important tools that teachers can use in early childhood education research:
- A notebook or word processing document: A teacher can use this to take notes while conferencing with students. The teacher might also save samples of student work and record insights and observations.
- A smartphone or tablet: Throughout the day, a teacher can take pictures and videos of students’ work. A teacher can also record conversations with students as they share their thinking.
- A teacher research team: Teachers need to find coworkers who will serve as sounding boards and help develop ideas.
Applying Research in the Classroom
Classroom research is a way to find out what works best in your own classroom so that you can improve student learning. When people begin teaching, they tend to do simply what others have told them to do, but after a couple of years of teaching, it makes sense for them to begin studying classroom data. You might think about what is currently working best or what has worked best in the past. You might discard lessons that did not go over well. This is all part of using your teacher action research to improve the learning in your classroom.
Early childhood education research can be the most interesting educational research because each child comes into an early childhood program with such a different set of experiences. After children have been in school together for a while, their differences normalize, to a degree. This gives early childhood professionals the opportunity to see how changes in teaching can affect different kinds of learners. A master’s degree in early childhood education program can help you do just that.