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To whom little is given, much is expected: ECE teacher stressors and supports as determinants of classroom quality

Early care and education (ECE) teachers are paid strikingly low wages, yet are increasingly expected to advance children’s learning by offering high-quality classroom environments. Teachers’ capacities to provide high-quality instruction should be affected by the stressors they encounter and the supports they receive. However, ECE stressors and supports related to classroom quality, particularly those dimensions of quality reflecting the promotion of students’ self-regulation, are understudied. The capacities teachers draw on to promote student self-regulation, such as patience, planning ability, positive affect, and scaffolding of peer interactions, may be precisely those abilities most likely to be impacted by their own stressors and supports. The current study measures the prevalence of a range of stressors (depressive symptoms, household chaos, less than very good health, teacher salary, food insecurity) and supports (in the workplace and at home) in a sample of ECE teachers serving low-income preschoolers in Tulsa, OK. Multilevel regression models then test for associations between those stressors and supports and observed measures of classroom quality – both the widely-used CLASS and newer measures that assess classroom management, social-emotional instruction, scaffolding of peer interactions, and use of power assertive and dismissive behavioral control – or “red flag” – strategies. The majority of associations from stressors and supports to classroom quality measures were non-significant and effect sizes were small (ranging from 0.17-0.30). Of the stressors, only low teacher salary was significantly associated with quality outcomes, and only for just 2 of 8 outcomes tested (worse classroom management and poorer quality of instruction). Out of the 48 associations tested between the 6 workplace supports and 8 quality outcomes, fewer than one-third were statistically significant and not always in expected directions. Results underscore a need for replication with other samples, using direct measures of teacher stress, so that the field can better understand how these aspects of teachers’ experiences translate into classroom quality, and ultimately, to child outcomes. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

Related resources include summaries, versions, measures (instruments), or other resources in which the current document plays a part. Research products funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation are related to their project records.

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