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A systems perspective on practicum experiences in early childhood teacher education: Focus on interprofessional relationships

High quality early childhood teachers have a wealth of knowledge and use a range of skills in their daily classroom practices, and research has consistently demonstrated the positive influence effective early childhood teachers have on children's development and long-term outcomes. Given the importance of practicum experiences in the development of effective teachers, exploration and understanding of these experiences for early childhood teacher candidates is warranted. The relationship between the cooperating teacher and teacher candidate can be viewed as a central element in the experience; this relationship influences and is influenced by additional elements within the practicum experience, including: communication, beliefs, fit, knowledge and learning. In this article, each of these elements is explored, and the interrelatedness of the elements within the practicum experience is discussed. A systems perspective is used to describe the multiple elements of the practicum experiences in early childhood teacher preparation programs, not only to explore the practicum experience, but also to develop recommendations and a research agenda. (author abstract)
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