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The Power of Collective Teacher Efficacy

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

Collective teacher efficacy (CTE) refers to educators' shared belief that together they can positively impact student outcomes and achievement. As research shows, cultivating strong CTE drives important benefits for schools. This article will define CTE, explain why it matters, and share tips on how administrators can foster it.


A girl illustrating the concept of the Power of Collective Teacher Efficacy.

What is Collective Teacher Efficacy?

The concept of CTE originated from Albert Bandura's work on self and collective efficacy. In schools, CTE involves teachers' shared:

  • Beliefs in their abilities to influence learning and behavior

  • Sense of responsibility for outcomes and motivation to meet expectations

  • Goal-setting and persistence in pursuing student success

These factors combine to drive greater effort and resilience in educators.


The High Stakes: Why CTE Matters

Extensive research on CTE highlights its pivotal impact:

  • Schools with higher CTE significantly outperform demographically similar schools on achievement tests.

  • Teacher efficacy accounts for more variance in student performance than any other factor like SES.

  • High-CTE teams set ambitious goals, persist despite challenges, and foster student drive.

  • Schools with robust CTE also have better attendance, behavior, teacher retention, and climate.

Clearly, strengthening teachers' shared efficacy beliefs and agency pays dividends.


Sources That Shape CTE

Research identifies two key sources driving teacher efficacy beliefs:

Mastery Experiences

  • Prior teaching successes and visible positive impact build individual and collective efficacy.

  • These mastery experiences convince teachers their efforts are making a difference.

Vicarious Experiences

  • Observing peers' successes reinforces beliefs in collective capabilities.

  • Seeing colleagues achieve goals suggests "if they can do it, I can do it."

Furthermore, CTE depends on:

  • Shared vision, values, and objectives

  • Structures enabling productive collaboration

  • Impactful coaching and modeling

  • Supportive leadership and feedback

  • Celebrating growth and wins

How Leaders Can Cultivate CTE

School administrators play central roles in building CTE. Strategies include:


Foster a Shared Vision

  • Facilitate consensus on core purpose and values

  • Inspire staff around your collective moral imperative

  • Build relationships beyond transactions

Promote Collaborative Structures

  • Enable peer observations to share effective practices

  • Structure time for co-planning, goal setting, and data analysis in teams

Recognize Progress and Growth

  • Celebrate both small wins and big achievements publicly

  • Note evidence of collective impact on outcomes

The key is structuring authentic mastery and vicarious experiences that build shared beliefs in teachers' capacity to help all students thrive.


Conclusion

In sum, extensive research shows collective teacher efficacy represents a powerful driver of student learning, engagement, and development. While CTE depends in part on individual self-efficacy, school leaders play pivotal roles in shaping collaborative cultures and experiences that strengthen educators' shared beliefs in their collective ability to make a difference. Prioritizing CTE leads to outcomes well worth the investment for students.

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