Teachers' pedagogical leadership in early childhood education

E Fonsen, T Szecsi, P Kupila, T Liinamaa, C Halpern, M Repo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Background: Although the contexts, structures and administrations of early childhood education (ECE) may differ internationally, effective pedagogical leadership remains an essential component in supporting young children’s development and learning. This paper reports on a comparative study which considered ECE in two different settings, Finland and Florida, providing insight into teachers’ perspectives on the characteristics of pedagogical leadership. Purpose: This study sought to investigate and compare the perspectives of ECE teachers and directors in Finland and Florida via their discourses about teachers’ pedagogical leadership. The goal was to provide an overview of the ECE teachers’ and directors’ discourses in each location, in order to allow comparison and a better understanding of the influence of aspects including locational contexts, curricular guidelines and teacher preparation on the ECE teachers’ and directors’ perspectives. Method: A comparative case study design was used. The data consisted of semi-structured focus group interviews and individual interviews with ECE teachers and centre directors in Finland and in Florida. Data from the two locations were first analysed separately to identify the main discourses; secondly, discourses were compared collectively to reveal major themes. Findings: The analysis indicated a similar conceptualisation of distributed pedagogical leadership. However, differences were identified in teachers’ expectations of independence in instructional decisions, and the extension of pedagogical leadership practices within and beyond the ECE centres. The analysis of discourses led to the identification of three major themes, which generated implications for teacher preparation, curriculum development and implementation, and ECE programme directions. Conclusion: The study enables a more comprehensible conceptualisation of teachers’ pedagogical leadership as it emerged from teachers’ and directors’ discourses across two locations. Pedagogical leadership is recognised as an indicator of high-quality pedagogy in early childhood education and the findings highlight the need to continuously support and strengthen teachers’ pedagogical leadership.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Issue number1
Early online date24 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Early childhood education (ECE)
  • Analysis of discourses
  • Curriculum
  • Distributed leadership
  • Education policy
  • Teacher pedagogical leadership

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2


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