A friend of mine is working on her dissertation and suggested I read Frank Pajares’ article “Self-Efficacy During Childhood and Adolescence.” In reading, I was enlightened about teacher self-efficacy and its influence on students.
Teachers with a low sense of efficacy tend to hold a custodial orientation that takes a pessimistic view of students’ motivation, emphasizes rigid control of classroom behavior, and relies on extrinsic inducements and negative sanctions to get students to study. Teachers with strong self-efficacy create mastery experiences for their students, whereas teachers with low instructional self-efficacy undermine students’ cognitive development as well as students’ judgments of their own capabilities. (362)
This made me think about what I do in the classroom. There are those lessons, you know the ones you’re not as confident in teaching. Maybe I’m the only one who experiences this. While I am confident that I can complete all of the math in my curriculum, there are a few things I do not feel confident in teaching someone else to do. Those are the days I am more rigid in the classroom and rely on positives and negatives for management and discipline. I hold out the extrinsic “carrots” rather than building intrinsic motivation in achievement. I definitely need to avoid this. My students will never be as successful as they can be on those topics if I don’t believe I can teach it and they can learn it!
Pajares goes on to make the same connection between parent and student self-efficacy. Parents and teachers with strong self-confidence can transfer that same sense of achievement to their students. Unfortunately, the converse is also true. I’m going to try and be mindful of this fact in the next year. When I get to those topics I struggle to teach, I’ve got to go out of my way to build my own confidence so that I can build it in my students as well.