Introduction: It is estimated that approximately 23 to 50% of teachers leave the profession within the first five years of teaching (Borman & Dowling, 2008; Keigher, 2010). Student misbehavior has been identified as a contributing factor to teacher turnover and burnout (Marinell & Coca, 2013), as new teachers often express concerns about lacking effective means to handle disruptive behavior (Browers & Tomic, 2000). Furthermore, teachers who have problems with behavior management report feeling ineffective in the classroom and high levels of stress and burnout (Espin & Yell, 1994). In fact, there is a growing literature on the prevalence and deleterious effects of teachers’ work stress. Taken together, these findings highlight the need for teacher training and support related to classroom management early in their careers, particularly in the context of disruptive students and work stress.
The current study presents findings from a randomized controlled trial of urban K-3 teachers in their first three years of teaching. We examined the impact of combined training in the Good Behavior Game, which focuses on group-based classroom behavior management (Ialongo et al., 1999) and MyTeachingPartner, a coaching support model that focuses on promoting positive teacher-student interactions (Allen, Pianta, Gregory, Mikami, & Lun, 2011; Pianta et al., 2008). This paper will present intent-to-treat results on observations of teachers’ classroom management practice as well as self-reported distress, efficacy, and felt support during the intervention year and a one-year follow-up.
Methods: Participants included 188 new K-3 teachers (i.e., within 3 years of entering teaching) from 72 urban schools in the northeastern U.S.; participants were randomly assigned to either a business-as-usual control or the combined GBG+MTP intervention condition. Across two consecutive years, teachers self-reported distress, efficacy and felt support, while classroom practices and student misbehavior were rated by external observers.
Results: Results indicated a consistent pattern of program benefits for GBG+MTP teachers in comparison to those in the control group, particularly when student behavior problems and teacher distress were high. Specifically, the intervention appeared to serve a protective effect for high distress teachers, reducing the negative relation between baseline student disruptive behavior and classroom practices, such as emotional support and classroom organization. Main effects of the GBG+MTP intervention were also evident on slopes for teacher distress (negative) and felt support (positive) into the follow-up year.
Conclusions: Implications for future research and support for early career teachers will be discussed, particularly in relation to the prevention of teacher turnover, burnout, and work stress.