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Teachers' social-emotional capacity: Factors associated with teachers' responsiveness and professional commitment

Early care and education has pronounced implications for young children's social-emotional learning. Although program structural and classroom process quality indicators have been widely explored, teachers' personal social-emotional capacity has only recently been recognized as an indicator of quality. This study reviewed and identified indicators of teachers' social-emotional capacity and established a two factor structure of psychological load and coping abilities. We also explored correlational associations between teachers' social-emotional capacity and their professional commitment and responsiveness to children's negative emotions. The sample consisted of 1,129 teachers in center-based child-care programs and public preschools in the US. We found that teachers' psychological load (depression, stress and emotional exhaustion) was associated with teachers' negative reactions to children and teachers' professional commitment after controlling for a wide range of teacher/classroom characteristics. Conversely, teachers' coping abilities (reappraisal emotion regulation and problem-focused coping strategies) were related to their positive reactions to children's negative emotions. Practice or Policy: The findings suggest further studies to identify training and professional development program components that might address early childhood teachers' psychological difficulties and coping strategies. Child-care programs may also need efforts that support teachers' social-emotional capacity as a way to improve teachers' responsiveness and professional commitment. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States
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