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Self-confidence – the key to teacher success?

August 2022

An image visualising teacher success through teacher confidence.

If we look up the definition of confidence in the dictionary, we can see that it comes from the Latin word fidere, which means “to trust”, therefore having self-confidence is having trust in oneself. More specifically, it’s having trust in one’s ability to perform a certain task or role successfully and this trust, or self-belief that we have, isn’t fixed. Confidence is an attribute that can be both acquired and improved throughout our lives. You also have different levels of confidence depending on the activity you’re undertaking and its perceived difficulty.

The beliefs we hold about ourselves regarding our ability to be successful matter. This psychological construct is referred to as self-efficacy and it has been shown that people who are more confident in their abilities to perform a role successfully tend to do better in their job, and this also includes teachers.

Alongside this, numerous studies have demonstrated that  stronger self-efficacy beliefs have a positive impact on teacher motivation and work satisfaction, leading to reduced levels of stress and teacher burn-out.  As a caveat, although stronger self-efficacy beliefs can positively affect work performance, it’s important to recognise that performance, or effectiveness, is also influenced by other factors, such as the complexity of the role and the context of the work undertaken.

If we accept that stronger self-efficacy beliefs can improve teacher effectiveness, then how can we help teachers to become more confident?

The first thing we need to recognise is that teaching is hugely complex. Teacher effectiveness very much depends on the ability of the teacher to successfully draw on the ‘correct’ tool or pedagogical approach to achieve the desired objective, which is ultimately for pupils to learn. Knowing and evaluating which strategy, approach or tool is ‘best’ to select for a given situation is tricky and is very much context dependent; what works for one pupil or situation may not work for all. In the classroom, lots of studies have shown that having the confidence in your own ability to be able to draw on what you know/can do as a teacher to achieve a specific goal or outcome leads to greater success.

Just as confidence can be grown, teacher self-efficacy beliefs are not fixed and can be strengthened. To do this, a number of strategies could be used e.g. simulations or scenarios provide opportunities for teachers to practice their skills and apply knowledge and develop mastery.

T-Insight provides teachers with such a space, and access to realistic work-based simulations developed by experienced practitioners.

Engaging with Realistic Classroom Scenarios Can Boost Teacher Confidence

The scenarios developed and used in T-Insight, provide participants with the opportunity to reflect on challenging classroom situations in a virtual environment, whilst receiving instant and tailored feedback and suggested strategies for practice from experienced colleagues in the form of a detailed feedback report. Open text boxes provide space for participants to justify their decisions, which can be used as a stimulus to support developmental feedback.  T-Insight modules are widely-tested, highly reviewed, and can be used in multiple educational contexts.

They can be text based or video/animations but all are designed to fit the role or job they are related to. They’re valuable tools for selection of applicants, as they demonstrate high validity for predicting future job performance, and are also useful for training and development purposes.

The scenarios in T-Insight, provide low cost experiences that can be used to good effect as a confidence building tool. They provide space for beginning teachers to respond to scenarios that may be very new to them. Developing “performance accomplishments” or “mastery” is a proven way of strengthening self-efficacy beliefs as outlined by Bandura in his Self-Efficacy Theory published in 1977.

T-Insight courses can be integrated into existing programs or be offered as a stand alone course with minimal input from mentors or tutors. Courses have been designed for use in initial teacher education and for early career teachers.

We also offer a consultancy service to develop bespoke versions for specific educational and geographical contexts, please get in touch for more details.


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