At a recent technology conference, surrounded with swirling lights, flashing sounds and gadgets, virtual experiences, and robots, my brain began bursting with possibilities. My thoughts changed quickly to my desk tumbling with a mound of papers awaiting my return. The tabs open on my computer that held tasks awaiting completion. Most of all my daily frustration of not feeling effective or “enough” for my school created a panic. Anxiety swelled up and I wondered, “Why am I failing?” Once I was fearless and jumped to conquer any task that was set before me. Suddenly, the following words from the speaker sliced through all my thoughts like a flash; “Stop finding reasons to fail.”
What has changed?
Am I finding reasons to fail?
Have I developed poor self esteem?
Then it hit me, I have heard repeatedly the idea of self efficacy and the need to develop this in our students and teachers–I AM MISSING IT!
Self efficacy is different from self esteem. Self esteem is simply feeling good about yourself and how you perform. Self efficacy is when you believe you have the necessary skills to reach a goal or complete a task and feel capable of success. Thinking again of the words, “Stop finding reasons to fail,” it occurred to me that I have become so anxious in my own abilities that I stopped striving to conquer things I once would have.
Every word spoken during that particular technology session, after the quote above, was completely lost while I juggled a hundred thoughts and dozens of emotions. What has happened to my self efficacy and how do I restore it? As educators, we are working in a time of both change and road blocks. Change can bring frustration but, also, great possibilities. Road blocks are opportunities waiting for our creativity. Somewhere I have lost sight of my abilities to conquer the difficult tasks that once inspired me to take action.
I read several articles about self efficacy to see how I could restore my own and wanted to share my findings in case there are others who are feeling the same way. Sarah Silverman (2009) shared, “Thomas Guskey (1950–) characterizes teachers’ perceptions of control as based primarily in the teacher (internal) or other factors (external) and variable across situations. If control over an outcome is attributed internally, individuals are more likely to engage in a behavior.” This statement reminded me that I cannot let a turbulent time in education make me believe that I have no control over the situations in our schools. I have become so overwhelmed, I have started to sit back and believe that only others can make change. This is simply not true.
Silverman wrote, “Teachers with higher levels of efficacy are more likely to learn and use innovative strategies for teaching, implement management techniques that provide for student autonomy, set attainable goals, persist in the face of student failure, willingly offer special assistance to low achieving students, and design instruction that develops students’ self-perceptions of their academic skills.” After reading this statement, I realized I do have control and have the ability to reach students and teachers with quality strategies and teaching practices. I have the ability to share data that may have camouflaged a problem or uncover a learning need that was once undiscovered. I have knowledge to share and skills to combat many problems that our students and teachers face.
Can I do this alone? No! Surrounded by my colleagues, each with unique and special gifts, we can make change and face obstacles before us each day. In fact, we can create collective efficacy, “Goddard, Hoy and Hoy (2000) define this as the “perceptions of teachers in a school that the efforts of the faculty as a whole will have a positive effects on students with the faculty in general agreeing that teachers in this school can get through to the most difficult students,” at a difficult time. We, as a school, can make positive change if we believe we have that ability. Together, lifting each other’s gifts and abilities, we can meet any challenge before us and help our students’ succeed.
I, for one, will rebuild my self efficacy by changing my small space in the world and helping to make those around me stronger and better. I will no longer “find excuses to fail” but will seek opportunities to attain and succeed.
This video was an inspiration. I am sure you have seen it before but what a great reminder that we can make a difference by making change as an individual and that it does matter.
Resources accessed for this blog article:
Article accessed on March 5, 2016: http://www.naesp.org/resources/1/Pdfs/Teacher_Efficacy_What_is_it_and_Does_it_Matter.pdf
Article accessed on March 4, 2016:
Article accessed on March 3, 2016: http://www.forsyth.k12.ga.us/cms/lib3/GA01000373/Centricity/Domain/31/Self-Efficacy_Helping_Children_Believe_They_Can_Suceed.pdf