Merging Policy and Practice: Powerful Teaching and Learning in Preschool


  • Dr. Emily Brown Hoffman Ball State University
  • Dr. Colleen E. Whittingham University of North Carolina Charlotte



early childhood policy, early childhood protocols, compliance, instructional practices, classroom interactions


This research to practice summary describes how an 8-week case study used field notes, interviews, and video-based fieldwork to examine local instructional practices and to investigate the policies and protocols which facilitate these practices. We describe how one Head Start classroom successfully navigated external accountability mandates while privileging students’ academic development and overall well-being when they attended to organizational infrastructure, instructional capacity, and the factors at their intersection. Findings indicate that while policies and protocols necessitated by external mandates impacted the organizational infrastructure, their intentional integration with sound pedagogy and the Center’s mission facilitated instructional capacity in a climate where children thrive. We therefore discuss how such decisions can be replicated in other Head Start locations.





Research-to-Practice Summaries