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Equipping Teachers with Naturalistic Teaching Strategies

Sarah Hawkins-Lear, Ed.D., clinical associate professor in the Department of Early Childhood, Special Education, and Rehabilitation Counseling, is working with doctoral candidate Meg Gravil on training early childhood teachers, who are not certified in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (IECE) or Special Education, to embed naturalistic teaching strategies to teach communication skills. The teachers are employed in classrooms that serve children 18-months to 2-years of age, and the majority of the children are at risk for, or have diagnosed disabilities, such as autism. All teachers and teaching assistants received an initial training on embedding naturalistic teaching strategies and were provided with brief performance feedback after each session. Equipping teachers with teaching strategies not only improves their teaching but leads to positive outcomes for young children with disabilities.