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PERSONALITY TRAITS AND PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS SATISFACTION AS PREDICTORS OF EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHERS’ JOB SATISFACTION

S. Tatalović Vorkapić

University of Rijeka, Faculty of Teacher Education (CROATIA)
Even though there is a lack of systematic and longitudinal studies in the field of an early and preschool care and education, contemporary educational discourse emphasizes the significance of teacher’s personality and well-being as the major factors influencing the children’s well-being, overall kindergarten’s climate and teachers’ job satisfaction. Exploring the link between students’ well-being and students’ achievements in which the teachers’ role is the significant one, McCallum and Price (2010, p.20) stated: “…that well teachers promote well students.“, what has the potential to shape the healthy kindergarten. Therefore, the relatedness between children's well-being and early childhood teachers' well-being is of utmost importance for the high quality of the process of an early learning and teaching as a crucial indicator of the healthy kindergarten. However, this is not an easy job at all, regarding the strong continuity in pedagogical practice modifications, very fast ICT-development and family/society changes, and changes in an early and preschool care and education policy and curriculum. Having in mind that teachers' well-being is the multidimensional concept, in this study, the focus has been given to teachers' personality traits and their psychological needs as their well-being indicators. This study contribution lies in the fact that it would be possible to objectively analyze the prediction power of these two well-being indicators regarding the early childhood teachers' job satisfaction. The additional contribution is that there is no similar research run in the Croatia, so this study could serve as a solid preliminary ground for future similar studies. Finally, determined results should serve to create clear implications for an early and preschool care and education practice enhancement. So, early childhood teachers’ characteristics, such as personality traits and psychological needs satisfaction showed to be significant correlates of their job satisfaction. Therefore, the main aim of this research was to analyze the relationship between these variables and to explore if personality traits and basic psychological needs satisfaction could significantly predict early childhood teachers’ satisfaction at work. A total of 179 early childhood teachers (all women, averaged age of 43 years) from Primorje & Gorje county in Croatia have participated in this research. Results showed that early childhood teachers are moderately to slightly high satisfied with their jobs, have moderate to slightly high level of all basic psychological needs satisfaction and personality traits except of neuroticism. All psychological needs satisfaction and personality traits showed significant and positive correlation with their job’s satisfaction, except of neuroticism which demonstrated significant negative correlation. Finally, as it was expected, regression analysis revealed significant main effect of personality traits (conscientiousness) and satisfaction of relatedness in predicting early childhood teachers’ satisfaction at work. The determined results are discussed within implications for early childhood practice quality enhancement through various life-long learning programs.