As a part of its Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant award, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) has funded several initiatives to support the professional growth of the early education and care workforce and increase program quality. Among these are projects to design a model for peer assistance and coaching (PAC). The goal of coaching in Massachusetts is to help programs improve quality as evidenced by their ability to meet criteria on the QRIS. The QRIS Standards are linked to a set of educator competencies and practices which enable educators to support young children’s growth in all domains, as defined by the Early Learning Standards.
There are different types of coaching models. In Massachusetts, EEC is currently supporting coaching and mentoring through the statewide Educator and Provider Support (EPS) Grant. These coaches are content coaches, or outside coaches/consultants that support program-wide improvement by helping administrators and educators learn new ideas and concepts and put those into practice.
The focus of the Massachusetts peer coaching (Peer Assistance and Coaching – PAC) model is colleague coaches, which define and enhance the colleague-to-colleague relationship to support individual educator growth and change. This type of peer coaching combines the promise of coaching as an effective strategy to improve quality and the reality that the existing early childhood teachers and directors may be well-equipped to support one another’s practices. It will take elements from the Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) coaching model used in many K-12 school districts, but focus is on development and not review (Coaching instead of Review).