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Early childhood teachers’ self-efficacy and professional support predict work engagement

Early childhood teachers play a central role in children’s learning and development. Yet, they encounter stressors that can negatively impact their well-being, relationships with children, and, ultimately, job retention. To inform efforts to support early childhood teachers’ work-related well-being, the current study examines positive factors that predict work engagement. Participants were 50 early childhood teachers from Head Start (34%), center-based programs (32%), and licensed home-based programs (34%). Consistent with a resilience framework and the Job Demands-Resources model, we examined both a personal resource (self-efficacy) and a workplace resource (professional support) in relation to work engagement, or the positive, fulfilling connection to one’s work. Teachers’ self-efficacy and professional support predicted greater work engagement, accounting for job demands (teachers’ compassion fatigue/work distress and children’s challenging behaviors) and teachers’ education and professional development. Although not causal, findings are suggestive that supporting early childhood teachers with what they need to do their job effectively and feel that they can make meaningful differences in children’s lives may help them to engage in their work with passion, dedication, and positive energy. Ultimately, supporting teachers’ work engagement may in turn have developmental benefits for children as well. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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