Friday, July 6, 2018

Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) and Play-Based Classrooms: How can Administrators Effectively Support and Evaluate Early Childhood Teachers

 Today's post comes from the perspective of a teacher educator and focuses on how teacher educators can support early childhood educators through evaluation and an understanding of what is Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP).

Many administrators, particularly in the Chicago Public Schools, are tasked with the duty of evaluating the teachers in their school buildings using the Danielson Framework ( However, early childhood classroom (PreK-2nd grade) can look, sound, and feel much different than upper elementary grades. If administrators (or teachers) have not been trained in the field of early childhood education with the mindset of Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) and/or play-based instruction, evaluating an early childhood classroom can be quite difficult. Thankfully, there are some quick steps administrators and early childhood teachers can take in order to both implement DAP and evaluate DAP practices using the universal Danielson Framework.

   1. Understand the foundation of DAP:
Both child-guided and teacher-guided experiences are implemented in the classroom, while also providing substantial periods of time when children may select activities from a variety of rich choices. Additionally, incorporate sustained and high level play to promote the development of collaboration skills, impulse control, self-regulation, and problem solving. 

Resources available at NAEYC:

    2. Assess:
a.       How your early childhood classroom Sounds Like, Feels Like, and Looks Like:
Examples: children laughing, families and children feel welcomed through the displays and materials available, controlled chaos, music, singing, mutually respectful interactions

b.      The implementation and understanding of DAP
One way to assess this is by providing an anonymous survey. Here is an example:

3. Focus on the Danielson Framework as a way to professionally grow:
If you are struggling on how to “see” the various parts of the Danielson Framework in early childhood classroom, refer to this website: Under “Learning Modules” and “Teaching and Leading Toolbox” resources and videos are provided to “see” the Danielson Framework in action.

Have honest conversations:
It is important for teachers and administrators to have a mutual understanding when discussing DAP and played-based instruction. Using the resources and steps above will create an environment of honest conversations. Additionally, viewing the resources provided on the provided website together is a great way to develop a common language.

Implementing and evaluating DAP can be overwhelming at first, however with resources, open communication, and the developmental of a mutual understanding, the implementation and evaluation process can be less daunting and more achievable.

Post Author:

 Dr. Anni Reinking is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). She has degrees in Psychology, Early Childhood Education, and Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Reinking’s research interests include play-based and developmentally appropriate practice in birth-2nd grade classrooms, teacher preparation techniques, effective coaching and mentoring strategies, and multicultural education in early childhood classrooms.

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