Teacher self-efficacy development in an international school in the Dominican Republic
As the teaching profession becomes increasingly challenging and teachers leave the profession at an alarming rate, school leaders need to understand the factors that influence teacher resiliency and longevity. A teacher's self-efficacy beliefs have been found to affect teacher's emotional and physiological well being (Bandura & Locke, 2003), job satisfaction (Caprara, Barbaranelli, Steck, & Malone, 2006, Hoigaard, Giske, & Sundsli, 2012), and stress management (Bandura, 1997). Self-efficacy also impacts effort and performance (Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy, 2001), professional commitment (Coladarci, 1992; Ware & Kitsantas, 2007, 2011; Klassen et al., 2013), and longevity in the profession (Wentzel & Wigfield, 2009). In consideration of the value of teacher self-efficacy, there is a lack of qualitative research explaining how self-efficacy develops in teachers. The present study used a qualitative phenomenology methodology to explore beliefs, factors, and experiences that influence the development and strengthening of self-efficacy in teachers. The choice of a phenomenological study reflected my belief that the best way to grasp the very essence of individual teacher beliefs was to dialogue with teachers about their lived experiences in the context of a particular situation (Moustakas, 1994; Creswell, 2013). The present study utilized focus groups and individual conversations with teachers in a K-12 international school in the Dominican Republic. This study also embedded a quantitative teacher self-efficacy survey instrument to select participants and to describe their perceived self-efficacy levels. The results indicated emerging themes of Connection, Support, Knowledge and Growth, Balance, and Gratification as factors shaping self-efficacy beliefs. This study contributes to our understanding of how self-efficacy develops by illuminating a self-efficacy growth cycle with eight stages: The Gold Standard, Teaching Challenges, Dissonance, Perspective, Teacher Behavior Change, Intentional Practice, Equilibrium, and Self-Efficacy Growth. The study also revealed cognitive processes of self-reflection, self-regulation, cognitive flexibility, growth mindset, intentional positivity, reminding oneself of calling/commitment and mental models of prior success and growth as catalysts to develop, change, and strengthen self-efficacy. In conclusion, the results from this study may inform administrators, teachers, mentors, instructional coaches and university programs about intentional, proactive ways to guide teacher self-efficacy growth.