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Early childhood teachers’ sense of community and work engagement: Associations with children’s social, emotional, and behavioral functioning


Teachers’ capacity to cultivate children’s social, emotional, and behavioral functioning in early childhood settings could depend on how connected they feel to their workplace as well as their work. However, the role of teachers’ perceptions of their workplace in their work engagement as well as children’s functioning (i.e., anger-aggression, anxiety-withdrawal, social competence, and behavioral self-regulation). Within this interdisciplinary study, we use self-determination theory and Job Demands-Resources Model of Burnout, which propose that when teachers perceive a supportive workplace that enables them to feel capable of handling their responsibilities, they perform better in their role, and thus, could more positively contribute to children’s development. The present study utilized a sample of 329 preschoolers and their 53 teachers. Using hierarchical linear modeling, we examined associations between teachers’ sense of community (as measured by collegiality and involvement-influence), their work engagement as a moderator, and children’s social, emotional, and behavioral functioning in early care and education (ECE) settings. As expected, we found that collegiality was negatively associated with children’s anger aggression (β =  1.79, SE = 0.86). Also, work engagement was negatively associated with children’s anxiety-withdrawal (β =  0.29, SE = 0.07). Unexpectedly, involvement-influence was positively associated with children’s anger-aggression (β = 1.78, SE = 0.67). Relationships in the workplace are valuable to teachers, including how they engage with their work duties and children. However, more responsibilities in the workplace may present challenges that contribute to a less positive response to children or a less positive classroom environment. We discuss implications and potential workplace interventions for ECE educators. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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