Practices and reflections of experienced, expert early childhood coaches

Paula J. Thompson, Christine A. Marvin, Lisa L. Knoche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The qualities and practices of two experienced, expert early childhood (EC) coaches, working with Early Head Start teachers, were explored through analyses of 24 audio-recorded EC coach-teacher conversations and coach interview data. Audio-recordings from 2 years of coaching sessions were reviewed, identifying the coaches' use of specific conversation behaviors, modified from Early Childhood Coaching Conversations (ECCC; Knoche & Bainter, 2012). Coaches used all 12 ECCC behaviors. Conversational behaviors associated with establishing relationships and sharing observations were used at similar rates in beginning (first year) and established (second year) coaching relationships. Coaches in established relationships however used higher rates of behaviors associated with acknowledging and affirming teachers' feelings and behaviors, and planning next steps. EC coaches' reflections on behaviors they used in coaching sessions with the teachers provided an opportunity to further examine EC coaching principles and practices. Interviews revealed coaches' perceived benefits of coaching, as well as a value in advancing relationships, and using key conversation behaviors, documentation, and a structured coaching approach. A focus on evidenced-based strategies teachers have been previously trained to use in their work with at-risk infants, toddlers, and their families was important in the coaches' work with teachers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-355
Number of pages19
JournalInfants and Young Children
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Coaching
  • Conversational behaviors
  • Early childhood
  • Expert coaching
  • Professional development
  • Relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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