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Kindergarten Teachers’ Instructional Priorities Misalignment and Job Satisfaction: A Mixed Methods Analysis


by Larissa M. Gaias, Manuela Jimenez, Tashia Abry, Kristen L. Granger & Michelle Taylor — 2018

Background: Instructional priority misalignment—the difference between how much time teachers would ideally spend on certain subjects/skills compared with how much time teachers actually spend on certain subjects/skills—is a novel measure addressing aspects of teacher autonomy that could have implications for job satisfaction. This misalignment may be particularly salient for kindergarten teachers, who have experienced recent shifts in instructional priorities as standards-based academic learning has been increasingly integrated into the classrooms of our youngest students. Thus, misalignment in teachers’ instructional priorities regarding Common Core academic topics (math, English) and socio-emotional learning skills may be especially important for kindergarten teachers’ job satisfaction.

Research Questions: (a) To what extent do teachers experience misalignment between their ideal and actualized instructional priorities in Common Core and socio-emotional domains? (b) Is misalignment in Common Core and socio-emotional domains related to teacher job satisfaction? (c) Which perceptions of the teaching profession contribute to job satisfaction for kindergarten teachers who report high misalignment but high job satisfaction? (d) How do their responses compare with the responses of teachers who report high misalignment but low job satisfaction?

Setting and Participants: A total of 911 kindergarten teachers (99% female, 83% Caucasian) from the state of Arizona participated in the study. At the time of data collection, Arizona had adapted the Common Core standards for math and literacy but had not implemented socio-emotional standards for kindergarten.

Research Design: Participants completed a survey in which they reported on their ideal and actual instructional priorities, their job satisfaction, and why they felt satisfied or unsatisfied with the profession.

Data Collection and Analysis: We used mixed methodology with concurrent data collection but sequential data analysis to answer our research questions.

Findings/Results: In the quantitative phase (Phase 1), we found that teachers experienced significant misalignment between their ideal and actual instructional priorities regarding socio-emotional development priorities, but not regarding Common Core academics. Additionally, a logistic regression demonstrated that for both domains of instruction, misalignment negatively predicted job satisfaction. Qualitatively, highly misaligned teachers who reported higher job satisfaction levels more often described psychological well-being, positive student characteristics, and the ability to tend to the needs of their family and friends as reasons for their job satisfaction than highly misaligned teachers with lower job satisfaction.

Conclusions: The present study has implications for teacher training, recruitment, and professional development aimed at supporting job satisfaction in kindergarten teachers.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 120 Number 12, 2018, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22501, Date Accessed: 10/19/2018 3:52:23 AM

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About the Author
  • Larissa Gaias
    University of Washington
    E-mail Author
    LARISSA M. GAIAS is a postdoctoral fellow at the SMART Center at the University of Washington. Larissa’s primary research interests focus on educational equity. She explores how school processes can better support marginalized youth, including students of color and youth affected by violence. Her recent publications include:

    Gaias, L. M., Gal, D., Abry, T., Taylor, M., & Granger, K. L. (2018). Diversity exposure in preschool: Longitudinal implications for cross-race friendships and racial bias. Applied Developmental Psychology. Advance online publication.

    Gaias, L. M., Lindstrom Johnson, S., White, R. M. B., Pettigrew, J., & Dumka, L. (2017). Understanding school-neighborhood mesosystemic effects on adolescent development. Adolescent Research Review. Advance online publication.

    Gaias, L. M., Abry, T., Swanson, J., Fabes, R. A., & Bradley, R. H. (2016). Considering child effortful control in the context of teacher effortful control: Implications for kindergarten success. Learning and Individual Differences, 45, 199–207.


  • Manuela Jimenez
    Arizona State University
    E-mail Author
    MANUELA JIMENEZ is an assistant research professor at the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University. Her research interest focus on understanding how to better support teachers to engage in effective practices by identifying teacher characteristics associated with their engagement in effective practice, as well as features of teacher education and professional development that are directly related to improvements in practice.


  • Tashia Abry
    Arizona State University
    E-mail Author
    TASHIA ABRY is an assistant research professor at Arizona State University’s T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics. Her research centers on the identification and promotion of learning environments that enhance teaching and promote social, emotional, and academic competence in children and youth. Her recent publications include:

    Abry, T., Granger, K. L., Bryce, C. I., Taylor, M., Swanson, J., & Bradley, R. H. (in press). First grade classroom-level adversity: Associations with teaching practices, academic skills, and executive functioning. School Psychology Quarterly.

    Abry, T., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Curby, T. W. (2017). Are all program components created equal? Relations between specific social and emotional learning components and teacher-student classroom interaction quality. Prevention Science, 18, 193–203.

    Abry, T., Bryce, C., Swanson, J., Bradley, R. H., Fabes, R. A., & Corwyn, R. (2017). Classroom-level adversity: Associations with children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors across elementary school. Developmental Psychology, 53, 497–510.


  • Kristen Granger
    Virginia Commonwealth University
    E-mail Author
    KRISTEN L. GRANGER is a research faculty member in the Department of Counseling and Special Education in the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. She received her Ph.D. in family and human development from Arizona State University. Dr. Granger’s primary research interests focus on understanding the relation between teacher, child, and classroom characteristics, teaching practices, and child well-being. Her recent publications include:

    Granger, K. L., Hanish, L. D., Kornienko, O., & Bradley, R. (2016). Preschool teachers' facilitation of gender-typed and gender-neutral activities during free play. Sex Roles, 76, 498–510.


  • Michelle Taylor
    California State University, Long Beach
    E-mail Author
    MICHELLE TAYLOR is an assistant professor of child development and family studies in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at California State University, Long Beach. She received her Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Taylor’s primary research interests include examining contextual and relational influences on young children’s school readiness. Dr. Taylor is currently the recipient of a Program Evaluation Grant funded by the Brady Education Foundation to examine the effectiveness of Books Can…©, an interactive public library program for parents and their preschool-age children.
 
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