First Steps Professional Development: Its Effects on Teachers’ Ability to Understand and to Implement First Steps in their Classrooms
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AbstractThe purpose of this study was to document and to determine how First Steps professional development was helpful to teachers in their understanding of First Steps. This study also examined how First Steps professional development has impacted the ability of teachers to implement First Steps in their classrooms and incorporate First Steps strategies in their teaching. Furthermore, this study provided suggestions for how to further support teachers in their understanding and ability to implement First Steps. The subjects of this study included a variety of teachers from grade levels ranging from kindergarten through fifth grade. The subjects also included special education teachers, reading resource teachers and an administrator from a suburban elementary school in upstate New York. There were thirty teachers who could have participated and fifteen handed back the questionnaire. The instrument used to gather the data was a researcher-designed questionnaire. The purpose of this study was discussed and the research questions were clarified. Then, a questionnaire was drafted for teachers to address the research questions. The draft instruments were refined until they asked the research questions in a clear concise manner in which they would be understood by the teachers using them. A group of 29 in-service graduate students provided feedback and helped to refine the questionnaire. Due to a poor response, twenty more questionnaires were made available on two separate occasions. They were again made available to faculty members following an oral presentation by the investigator at a faculty meeting. Finally, they were placed in a central location with a reminder note, thanking those who had replied and urging those who had not to send in their completed questionnaire. Responses to the questions about the effectiveness of First Steps staff development training in teachers’ ability to implement and understand First Steps and other resulting data were analyzed and then described in this report. The responses to the questions were listed separately and then analyzed for similarities. Similar responses were categorized and grouped together. The results were compiled for the district and the building principal to use in their decisions relating to First Steps and future staff development needs. The data were obtained by questionnaire and interview, of which thirty were distributed and fifteen were returned. Responses were collected, categorized, and analyzed for similarities. Limitations of this study were pointed out. Suggestions for school applications and implications for further research were discussed.