Administrators’ Role in the Development of Teacher Self-efficacy

Wendy Anderson makes the case that administrators play the most significant role in making new teachers feel self-efficacious

A video clip where Wendy Anderson outlines the ways in which administrators can and should interact with new teachers and help them develop self-efficacy.


Wendy Anderson:

Administrators play a significant role, if not the most significant role in our new teachers, making them feel self efficacious. And I think there’s kind of a thought that, well, maybe the new teachers have mentors, they have induction coaches, they have instructional coaches, they have their departmental colleagues, so maybe the administrator doesn’t need to be as involved, but that’s actually not true. The administrator involvement is key to building self-efficacy for several reasons. If they start first with just simply being visible and present to those new teachers, just checking in with them every day on a regular basis, “How are you doing today? What do you need? What are your students going to learn today?” Or even, “After school, I saw a student a in the hallway and they told me all about blank that you were learning in your class today. That builds self-efficacy because teachers feel seen and heard and valued, and they know that they’re there for a reason.

So just that check-in from the administrator, because many times that teacher’s evaluator as well as they’re the lead learner of the building. So we know self-efficacy theory says a lot about the importance of a model. And so that’s what that administrator serves as very important in developing those foundational self-efficacy skills. Secondly, administrators need to make sure that they share their expectations with new teachers, and I’m not talking eight to 10 expectations, but maybe two to three very basic expectations that they would have. So one might be we expect you to have a work-life balance because many times, new teachers don’t understand what that should look like. So most of the time putting in way too many hours and becoming burned out and then wondering why did that happen? So we need to be very clear about those expectations for them. For our new teachers, this morning, we talked about our expectation for them is to speak up.

So in our collaborative teams, we are expecting a balance between step up, step back, because they have a voice and there’s a reason that they’re here. It’s not to sit back and just listen to the other teachers talk, it’s to share their voice. And so we expect them to do that. And we call that today our theme was being impact players. And so we were teaching them all about what that means in their collaborative teams. So when you set those expectations with them, then you can give them feedback throughout the year. “So we’re going to be visiting their collaborative team meetings, and then we can give them feedback… You know what, what I heard you say X, Y, and Z about this topic, great job that really helped push our practice forward. Or conversely, did you hear when your colleagues said this? That would’ve been a perfect opportunity for you to share about blank. So when you give that feedback to them throughout the year on those expectations, they get a sense of where they are on their own professional learning journey.

And then finally, I think it’s very important for administrators to support innovation and risk taking.

I’m thinking in particular of a teacher that we interviewed, she’s a world language teacher. In her first year that she came in, she was basically handed a curriculum from the prior teacher who went on to teach a different grade level, and said, Here’s what we did. We have always done it this way. You need to continue doing it this way.” And so the new teacher figured out very quickly that was not working at all. And so she went to her administrator and said, “I would like to try something different. I think that I could help the students learn better if we did small groups, if we did self-paced learning at some learning stations.” And he said, “Why don’t we pair you with the instructional coach? You can do some co-teaching, and until you feel comfortable handling that on your own? Well, the result was…

At the end of the year, all of her students were proficient on a Spanish exam, and she had a lot fewer discipline referrals to the office because students were engaged. And so rather than at the end of her first year saying, “This was terrible. I did not like this,” at the end of her second year, her exact words were, “I can do this.” So that’s kind of the embodiment of self-efficacy right there. So I don’t pretend that any of those things are, well, I just blew your mind by some things that I shared, but I do think those things need to be done on a consistent basis because they build that over time, that self-efficacy that’s very powerful.