Kindergarten teachers' instructional priorities misalignment and job satisfaction: A mixed methods analysis

Larissa M. Gaias, Manuela Jimenez Herrera, Tashia Abry, Kristen L. Granger, Michelle Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTeachers College Record
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Kindergarten teachers' instructional priorities misalignment and job satisfaction: A mixed methods analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this