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Does supervision influence teacher efficacy and commitment?

By By Sonya Rogers
Education columnist
Research implies that although formative evaluation is common in schools, very little is known about its direct or indirect effect on teachers and classroom instruction.
Yet, principal supervision of teachers is thought to influence individual teacher efficacy and commitment. For example, if teachers believe they have the personal teaching strengths necessary to overcome perceived environmental difficulties such as poor student ability and behavior, lack of parental support, and inadequate equipment, then strong efficacy beliefs emerge. As a result, these efficacy beliefs strongly influence actual teacher behavior, which affects student achievement. If supervision is to influence teacher efficacy, the principal must take an active role. However, active principal supervision in the form of frequent classroom observations and conferencing activities, does not directly influence a teacher's confidence, trust, or support of the principal. To better promote job satisfaction, morale, and committment, teachers must believe the principal is interested in and committed to supporting the teacher.
Effective principals serve as guardians of teachers' instruction time, they assist them with discipline matters, and support teachers' authority in enforcing discipline codes and policies. Teachers can better relate to their students when they feel their sense of self-determination and purpose are supported. In other words, teachers need to be nurtured and to feel valued. Their work ethic demands a sense of meaning and significance in contributing to a higher purpose or goal. When teachers are supported by their peers as well as their principals, they are likely to take greater risks to improve their own instruction, remain in the teaching profession, and show more interest in the students and the school.
Low teacher morale has been noted as a negative factor in many schools recently. This is predominately due to the extensive expectations placed on teachers. Morale relates to the professional interest and enthusiasm that a person displays towards the achievement of individual and group goals in a given job situation. It is the emotional and mental attitude attached to a person's work. Raising teacher morale not only makes teaching more pleasant for the teachers, it also enhances an environment more conducive to learning for the students. There is a direct correlation between morale and achievement. In addition, low levels of job satisfaction and morale can lead to decreased teacher productivity and burnout. This is also generally associated with a detachment from the people with whom one works, a decreased quality of teaching, depression and a dehumanized perception of students. Therefore, in a healthy school setting where morale is high, administrative support is evident, and teacher autonomy is present, there will also exist a higher level of student achievement.
As a parent, don't you want your child's teacher to be happy?
Sonya Rogers is an independent columnist for the Atmore Advance and may be reached by email at newsroom@atmoreadvance.com