Professional Development/Practice Based Coaching (PBC)

Practice-based coaching (PBC) helps people learn what to do and say to support young children’s development and learning and their families. Coaches support anyone who interacts regularly with young children, including practitioners and families. Anyone can benefit from receiving PBC, because what people learn to do or say as they support young children is matched to their strengths, needs and goals.

PBC is recognized nationally and internationally as a recommended practice. The Anita Zucker Center and our collaborators have received continuous support to develop and study practice-based coaching from local, state, and national sponsors since 2007. Our research focuses on helping people learn to do PBC and looks at how PBC supports positive outcomes for those who interact regularly with young children and for children’s development and learning.

“The whole coaching framework has led to a more reciprocal relationship between [myself] and caregivers. Now I am comfortable asking questions and waiting for answers. And parents trust me and feel comfortable enough to ask questions, too.”
Early Intervention Provider

PBC Spotlight on Effective Practices

Effective practices are at the center of PBC. They are things people do and say that have been shown to have positive results for children and families. Read more about some of the many practices we study at the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies:

PBC has four parts. Coaches use the four parts of PBC to help people who interact regularly with young children learn effective practices.

1. Collaborative Partnerships

Working together to learn and use practices.

2. Shared Goal Setting and Action Planning

Making decisions together about what practices to use and when, where and how to use the practices.

3. Focused Observation

Working together to learn and use practices.

4. Reflection and Feedback

Talking about when, where and how practices were used by reflecting and sharing feedback.

“I found coaching to be really helpful because it helped my coach also understand the context [in which] I teach. It helped her see what our classroom is actually like and give me feedback that was tailored to my classroom, and that was actually realistic and doable, which I really appreciated.’”
Early Childhood Teacher

Center Priorities

Generating Knowledge
Research on PBC has led to its identification as a recommended practice in early childhood and its use by local, state, national, and international partners.
Engaging with Partners
Our work developing, studying, and using PBC has engaged local, state, national, and international partners who use PBC to support young children and their families at home, in early learning programs, and in the community.
Preparing Leaders
Early childhood leaders from undergraduate through post-doctoral levels at the University of Florida and at collaborating institutions of higher education have been participating in or helping to expand and refine the use PBC since 2007.
Making an Impact
PBC has helped teachers, service providers, and families throughout the United States and the world learn to use effective practices.
“It was just nice to get some on-the-spot feedback, which made me feel more reassured about the practices I was using”
Early Childhood Teacher

Impact

Research on Practice-Based Coaching shows:

  • PBC helps people learn a variety of practices to support young children and their families.
  • People who have participated in PBC say it increased their confidence to support young children and their families.
“As a coach, I am able to point out the practices teachers [are] using with the children during their everyday learning opportunities. Sharing this feedback boosts their confidence to continue to educate and nurture our young ones.”
PBC Coach

Related Content

Practice-Based Coaching

Learn about the basics of PBC and its research basis as a professional development strategy. Find out how PBC connects to the Head Start Program Performance Standards.

Our Work in Professional Development and Practice-Based Coaching

Early Childhood Policy in Institutions of Higher Education

The Early Childhood Policy in Institutions of Higher Education (ECPIHE) initiative seeks to enhance the study of early childhood policy in U.S. institutions of higher education (IHEs). The initiative aims to establish a new field of inquiry, Early Childhood Policy (ECP), and prepare leaders to design, analyze, and advocate for constructive early childhood policies driven by research and evidence-informed practices. Through the development of easily accessible, open-access sample tools, the creation of a community of IHEs and early childhood policy leaders, and the establishment of centers modeled on the National Center for Children and Families, the ECPIHE team collaborates with various institutions of higher education around the country to develop early childhood policy.

  • Funding Source: Heising-Simons and the Buffett Early Childhood Fund through Teachers College, Columbia University (subcontract)
  • Funding Period: 7/1/2021 – 6/30/2023

Team:

  • Representatives from several IHEs are members, including:
  • Chris Curran, Principal Investigator, University of Florida
  • Patricia Snyder, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Florida
  • Maureen Conroy, Faculty, University of Florida
  • Herman Knopf, Faculty, University of Florida
  • Erica McCray, Faculty, University of Florida
Practice-Based Coaching: Data-Informed Decision-Making (PBC-DIDM): Model Demonstration

This project is one of three early childhood model demonstration grants focused on coaching in early childhood. Funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), PBC-DIDM involves building a data-informed decision-making model for use with practice-based coaching (PBC). PBC is foundational to the work at the Center, including use in Embedded Instruction, BEST in CLASS, and Pyramid Model. This project’s team from the University of Florida, Vanderbilt University and six model demonstration sites are implementing and evaluating the PBC-DIDM model across three states and several diverse early childhood sites that serve young children with or at-risk for disabilities.

Read more about practice-based coaching here.

  • Funding Source: Office of Special Education Programs
  • Funding Period: 10/1/2020 – 9/30/2024
  • Funding Number: H326M200021

Team:

  • Patricia Snyder, Principal Investigator, University of Florida
  • Darbianne Shannon, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Florida
  • Maureen Conroy, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Florida
  • Jennifer Harrington, Project Coordinator, University of Florida
  • Mary Louise Hemmeter, Co-Principal Investigator, Vanderbilt University
  • Kiersten Kinder, Site Coordinator, Vanderbilt University
  • Sarah Basler, Educational Consultant, Vanderbilt University
South Carolina Child Care Resource and Referral Network

The South Carolina Child Care Inclusion Collaborative (SCIC) provides individualized learning experiences and technical assistance for child care providers to support the inclusion of children with or at risk for disabilities in early childhood education centers. Center members worked with the program director and lead implementation coach to adopt an online coaching platform for inclusion specialists to engage in virtual practice-based coaching, enhance their capacity to consistently collect meaningful data about their practice-based coaching efforts and measure the effects of these efforts on practitioners’ use of evidence-informed practices.

  • Funding Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, South Carolina Department for Social Services, Office of Early Care and Education through University of South Carolina (subaward)
  • Funding Period: 10/1/2020–Present

Team:

  • Darbianne Shannon, Principal Investigator, University of Florida
South Carolina Child Care Resource and Referral Network (Past)

The South Carolina Child Care Inclusion Collaborative (SCIC) provides individualized learning experiences and technical assistance for child care providers to support the inclusion of children with or at risk for disabilities and developmental delays in early childhood education centers. Center members worked with the program director and lead implementation coach to pilot and scale up their practice-based coaching initiative by (a) learning experiences for all inclusion specialists within the program to use practice-based coaching as intended when working with practitioners and administrators to increase the use of evidence-informed practices and (b) establishing internal systems for providing ongoing coach supports and quality assurance.

  • Funding Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, South Carolina Department for Social Services, Office of Early Care and Education through University of South Carolina (subaward)
  • Funding Period: 09/1/2016– 9/30/2020

Team:

  • Herman Knopf, Principal Investigator, University of Florida
Child Care Accessibility Index: Leveraging South Carolina Child Care Administrative Data to Inform State CCDBG Subsidy Policies (Past)

Dr. Herman Knopf supported the University of South Carolina Child Development Research Center team to ensure the utility of the Child Care Accessibility Index in informing policies that strive to increase child care access for children and families. Dr. Knopf also supported project implementation.

  • Funding Source: U.S. Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning Research and Evaluation through University of South Carolina (subaward)
  • Funding Period: 9/1/2016 – 2/28/2018
  • Funding Number: 90YE0176-01-00

Team:

  • Herman Knopf, Principal Investigator, University of Florida
Preparing Leaders in Early Childhood Studies and Implementation Science (PLECSIS) (Past)

PLECSIS was a doctoral leadership learning opportunity that provided doctoral scholars with combined expertise across four core areas: 1) Special Education, 2) Early Childhood Studies, 3) Implementation Science, and 4) Research and Evaluation Methods. Through coursework, seminars, mentoring, and situated community-based leadership experiences, PLECSIS was designed to produce doctoral students with the advanced knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to assume leadership roles in higher education. Whether in research, administration, policy development, or professional practice, PLECSIS prepared these leaders to implement programs or support others to implement and sustain services and recommended evidence-based practices that improve outcomes for young children, ages birth to 5 years with or at risk for disabilities, and their families. Upon completing the program, scholars graduated with a Ph.D. in Special Education with a concentration in Early Childhood Studies. While this is no longer a funded project, the Center continues to use this apprenticeship model with its current Doctoral Affiliates.

  • Funding Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs
  • Funding Period: 1/1/2016-8/15/2020
  • Funding Number: H325D150079

Team:

  • Maureen Conroy, Program Director/Principal Investigator, University of Florida
  • Patricia Snyder, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Florida
  • Brian Reichow, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Florida
  • Mary McLean, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Florida
Preparation and Retention of Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education Personnel: Preparing for Evidence-Based Practice in High Need Early Childhood Settings (Past)

This project, also known as Project Prepare, included students from the Unified Early Childhood (UEC) program at the University of Florida, which began during junior year and included a fifth-year master’s degree as well as state licensure in early childhood education and early childhood special education. Project Prepare emphasized evidence-informed practices using recommended practices identified by the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children professional organization and prepared students to work in high-need communities. After completing the program, the transfer of learning into practice was facilitated during the first year of teaching for each cohort through a combination of mentoring and peer group support across the year.

  • Funding Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs
  • Funding Period: 1/1/2015-12/31/2020
  • Funding Number: H325K141235

Team:

  • Mary McLean, Program Director/Principal Investigator, University of Florida
Postdoctoral Research Training Fellowship in Early Intervention and Early Learning in Special Education at the University of Florida (Past)
This transdisciplinary postdoctoral research fellowship program was funded by the National Center for Special Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences and provided core competencies and apprenticeships in various research areas for specialization learning experiences in early intervention and early learning in special education. The Center supported the professional development of these postdoctoral scientists by preparing them to conduct rigorous and relevant research and contribute to the advancement of knowledge, theory and methodology in early childhood studies. While this grant-funded postdoctoral fellowship has ended, the Center continues to use this model with its Postdoctoral Associates.

Read the IES abstract here.

  • Funding Source: National Center for Special Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences
  • Funding Period: 5/15/2012 – 12/31/2016
  • Funding Number: R324B120002

Team:

  • Patricia Snyder, Principal Investigator, University of Florida
  • Maureen Conroy, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Florida
  • James Algina, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Florida
  • David Miller, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Florida
  • Walter Leite, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Florida
National Head Start Inclusion Center (Past)

This national center was a collaboration between the University of Washington and the University of Florida to advance recommended practices in early childhood inclusion. Resources and materials to support effective inclusion practices were created and shared throughout the national Head Start network.

  • Funding Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families through University of Washington (subaward)
  • Funding Period: 9/30/2008 – 9/29/2011
  • Funding Number: 90YD0270
The National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL) (Past)

The National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL) was a large, national center created to improve practices in Head Start programs and helped more than a million young children make gains in early learning and development. Supported by a grant from the U.S. Office of Head Start, this nationwide effort brought early education research and practical knowledge together to identify the research-based curriculum, instruction, and assessment tools that improve child outcomes and promote school readiness. NCQTL also supported the application of new instructional techniques and curriculum through coaching, feedback, and other professional development. The Center collaborated in this effort by developing resources for practice-based coaching for leadership teams and practitioners to support children with or at risk for disabilities in Head Start programs nationwide. In addition, the Center contributed to materials to support the implementation of effective assessment and teaching practices.

  • Funding Source: U.S. Office of Head Start
  • Funding Period: 2000-2015