In Parts 1 and 2 of “The Impact of Collective Efficacy on Student Achievement” we discussed the definition, effect size and influences on teacher efficacy. Part 3 of this series explores what supports need be in place to increase teacher efficacy.
Support and Self Efficacy
There is strong evidence that the level of support teachers receive has a significant impact on their effectiveness and job satisfaction. Support also impacts job stress, satisfaction, school commitment, health, and the intent to stay in teaching (Littrell & Billingsley, 1994). House’s Theory of Social Support (1981) outlined four types of support:
- Emotional support – empathy, caring, and trust
- Instrumental support – behaviors that directly help the person accomplish the task
- Informational support – information to help coping with personal and environmental problems
- Appraisal support – provides data for self-evaluation and reflection
A real problem of practice is the lack of congruence between teachers’ and school leaders’ perceptions of being supportive. In order to provide a tool to assess teachers’ perceptions of support, DiPaola (2012) employed House’s framework to apply the construct of support to schools. In the school context is conceptualized based on two general categories of support:
- Expressive support—the degree to which teachers in the school view their principal as providing emotional and professional support.
- Instrumental support—the extent to which teachers perceive their principal as providing support in terms of time, resources, and constructive feedback to effectively accomplishing the teaching task.
In recent studies (Cagle, 2012; Krug, 2014; Tindle, 2012) the level of principal support predicted the level of efficacy, openness to change, and citizenship behaviors of teachers
But in order to provide quality feedback and other forms of support, school leaders must be instructionally efficacious and know or learn:
- to support teachers based on their individual needs
- to recognize quality instruction when they see it in practice
- to collect classroom data and collegially share them with teachers with the goal of improving instruction
- to provide instructional strategies that can help teachers differentiate and find success in working with all learners, and
- to provide targeted, job-embedded professional development for teacher growth.
Principal Preparation for Providing Support
Expecting school leaders to have the knowledge and skills required to provide these levels of support is unrealistic unless they are provided opportunities to grow and hone their own skills. Sustained, job-embedded, focused professional learning for principals designed to improve their instructional leadership practices should be a priority for school districts looking to improve student outcomes (Darling-Hammond et al., 2010).
The question is how to provide principals with quality professional development experiences? In previous eObservation blogs support for assistant principals has been discussed. In Part 4 of “The Impact of Collective Efficacy on Student Achievement” we will introduce you the series of professional development activities that support new building leaders that was designed by the School University Research Network (SURN) at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.