Understanding Early Childhood Educators' Well-Being: Links to Professional Development, Teacher-Child Interactions and Child Outcomes

Roberts, Amy, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Locasale-Crouch, Jennifer, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Hamre, Bridget, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

This dissertation presents three independent studies that all focus on understanding early childhood educators’ well-being. The first study identifies characteristics of pre-kindergarten teachers that relate to teachers’ responsiveness to the professional development program MyTeachingPartner. Teachers’ anxiety and readiness to change related to multiple indicators of responsiveness. Teachers who were more anxious and less ready to change were less responsive to the intervention. The second study examines how Head Start teachers’ depressive symptoms relate to their provision of emotionally supportive interactions and children’s social and emotional development. A direct association was found between teachers’ depressive symptoms and children’s social-emotional outcomes. Children in classrooms with more depressed teachers made significantly fewer positive gains in problem behaviors and social skills. The third study utilized a mixed methods approach to explore if and why preschool teachers’ self-efficacy, burnout, and stress, changed in the Effective Classroom Interactions online professional development intervention. Teachers who took the online course experienced increased emotional exhaustion and decreased self-efficacy when not provided opportunities to express emotions and/or receive supportive feedback. Collectively, these three studies demonstrate the importance of teachers’ well-being in (1) engaging in professional development (2) supporting children’s development, as well as (3) how professional development impacts teachers’ well-being.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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