By Dalia Ibrahim
“People have always striven to control events that affect their lives. By exerting influence in spheres over which they can command some control, they are better able to realize desired futures and to forestall undesired ones” (Bandura, 1997, p.1).
It is generally said that teachers have a great impact on students’ lives, either being their role models or their greatest supporters. Does this apply to all teachers? Are all teachers focusing on the outcomes they want their students to reach? Are all teachers continually trying new methods and strategies, looking for new material to be implemented in their lessons and trying their best to develop their teaching skills? Only those teachers who believe they make a difference and have a great impact on students are those who really do. In fact, “[b]eliefs of personal efficacy constitute the key factor of human agency. If people believe they have no power to produce results, they will not attempt to make things happen” (Bandura, 1997, p.3).
Many studies have been conducted to test teacher self-efficacy, proving that it has a great impact on instructional quality, creating a positive learning environment, providing efficient classroom management, and cognitively challenging students’ minds. Teachers’ self-efficacy is not only related to their performance as teachers and their teaching and management skills, but also to what extent they believe they can make a difference in their students’ wellbeing and attainment. These teachers are those who challenge themselves all the time to experiment with new methods, implement new techniques and utilize new material to challenge their students’ minds and promote their learning, even when they encounter obstacles.
Teachers with high self-efficacy are more supportive and focus more on strategies that better meet their students’ needs. First, this supportive behaviour from the teacher’s side has a positive influence on the social interaction between teachers and students and on the general atmosphere of the classroom. Second, when a teacher has proper classroom management skills, this enables him/her to diminish students’ misbehaviour and disruption and, consequently, maximize the time of learning. In order to reach this goal, the teacher sets clear rules and procedures, and focuses on everything happening in the classroom. Moreover, being confident in their abilities, teachers with stronger self-efficacy can deal with difficult classroom situations, being always ready and organized, so that their students are engaged and have no time to interrupt the lesson. Third, by continually stimulating their students’ minds, engaging them in the subject, testing their prior knowledge, asking them to think critically, to compare and contrast concepts, to find solutions, to voice their opinions, and provide evidence, these teachers enable their students to be totally responsible for their learning process. Thus, teachers continually implement new strategies and utilize new challenging material to target their students’ high-order-of-thinking skills.
Reading about Bandura’s Self-efficacy Theory reminded me of an article I wrote at the beginning of the quarantine, when remote learning has taken the place of face-to-face learning. I remember that my ultimate purpose was that of being able to effectively teach my students, incorporating new strategies in my lessons so to overcome the obstacles created by distance. This is when I understood that “[p]eople's level of motivation, affective states, and actions are based more on what they believe than on what is objectively true. Hence, it is people's belief in their causative capabilities that is the major focus of inquiry” (Bandura, 1997, p. 2). Given all that, I realized that those who really love this profession are naturally teachers with intentionality and self-efficacy because our main aim is to let our students cognitively develop, acquiring new skills and knowledge, but also to enjoy the learning process in a positive and enlightening atmosphere where both teacher and students learn together.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy. The Exercise of Control. Freeman.
Slavin, R.E. (2018) Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice. Pearson.