Professional development can provide opportunities to develop new skills and knowledge, and to apply them to practice in a sustainable way. However, delivery of professional development needs to consider the philosophies and pedagogies of training recipients, and activities should be tailored to meet their needs. This article reports on an exploratory study of an embedded, service-based model of professional development for early childhood educators (educators), targeting children's speech, language, and communication skill development. This innovative model, conducted by speech and language therapy (SLT) students and a SLT professional practice educator, utilized co-teaching strategies to facilitate the professional learning of educators and SLTs in this context. A qualitative research design was employed and data gathered through focus group interviews with educators and individual semi-structured interviews with centre directors. The data were triangulated with some observational data of educators' practices with young children several months post program completion to explore their application of skills and knowledge that had been covered in the professional development program. The data contained four main themes: Communication, relationships, environment, and translating knowledge into practice. Observational data lent further depth and validation to the results by confirming the presence or absence of expressed practice values and experiences in the educators' everyday interactions with children. The observational data supported the themes relationships and translating knowledge into practice. The results contribute to our understanding of educators' and childcare centre directors' perspectives on their knowledge, skills, and practice in response to this embedded professional development program. This model of professional development may be appropriate to facilitate knowledge and skill development about children's speech, language, and communication skills for educators working with young children in a childcare setting. Benefits for educators and SLTs were found where good working relationships and communication had been established.
- early childhood education and care
- professional development
- speech and language therapy