International Teacher Perspectives on Quality in ECE: A Case Study
The goal of early childhood programming is to provide children with high-quality early care and to support educators’ understanding and ability to implement high-quality practices on behalf of children and their families. Quality in early childhood care is an ambiguous concept, relative to various social and context-specific factors, making it difficult to define in standardized terms. A classroom teacher’s proximity to decisions in the early childhood classroom validates the need for teacher perceptions to be considered in practices regarding high-quality care. This paper presents a comparative case study that sought to explore teacher perspectives of high-quality care from two nations, Finland and the United States, and examined how these perspectives differed or aligned across the influences of culture. Using an interpretivist design for qualitative research methods, preschool and early year teacher participants completed pre-surveys in which they rated various indicators of quality. Survey responses guided semi-structured interviews. Additionally, participants discussed photographs of classroom and school activities that they felt exhibited quality. In vivo and values coding were used to analyze the interview data and generate themes in which teachers described high quality. Generating from both participant groups, the analysis resulted in various themes, such as child-centered classrooms, physical environment, and highly educated teachers. While language and terminology differed, teachers in Finland and the United States valued similar indicators of high-quality early programs.
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