09 SES 04 C, Attitudes, Beliefs and Competencies of Future Teachers and Practicing Teachers
Educational effectiveness research has proved the importance of teachers’ beliefs and attitudes for student learning. Beliefs strongly determine teachers’ thoughts and actions. A change of beliefs is a necessary prerequisite for changing practices and behaviours (e.g. Woolfolk Hoy, Hoy, & Kurz, 2008; Reynolds et al., 2015).
Teachers’ beliefs and attitudes have been confirmed as the key factors in educational effectiveness with respect to disadvantaged students. According to Benard (2004), the strategies for developing resilience strengths in young people include the quality of the environment, the presence of caring relationships, high expectations, participation, and meaningful contributions within the child’s environment. Apparently, only teachers who believe that those factors really matter can demonstrate them in their daily routines through their relationships with students in schools. Benard (2004) emphasises that “one of the most important and consistent findings in resilience research is the power of schools, especially of teachers, to turn a child’s life from risk to resilience”. A teacher’s interpersonal relationship styles, supportiveness, and mindset with regard to students’ abilities to succeed are found to be predictive of students’ engagement in school, learning motivation, and academic achievement, as well as positive social development.
Beliefs that influence teachers’ attitudes and expectations with regard to students can be conceptualised in many ways. We chose the concept of academic optimism, which seems to be very powerful in explaining teachers’ attitudes towards disadvantaged students. Moreover, the analysis carried out on the TIMSS & PIRLS 2001 data (Strakova & Simonova, 2015) showed that the construct of academic optimism works well in the Czech context. Academic optimism emphasises the potential of schools to overcome the power of socioeconomic factors that impair student achievement and focuses on potential, rather than pathology, with its emphasis on weakness and helplessness (Hoy, Tarter, & Woolfolk Hoy, 2006a, 2006b). It has proved to have a positive impact on student outcomes. The concept of academic optimism stems from positive psychology (Pajares, 2001) and consists of teachers’ sense of efficacy, trust, and academic emphasis. It encompasses teachers’ beliefs about themselves, their students, and their instruction. Academic optimism is a latent construct comprised of three closely related concepts – teachers’ sense of efficacy, teachers’ trust in students and parents, and teachers’ focus on creating a positive and challenging academic environment for their students (e.g. Hoy, Tarter, & Woolfolk Hoy, 2006a; 2006b; McGuigan & Hoy, 2006; Woolfolk Hoy, Hoy, & Kurz, 2008).
The topic is highly relevant to the Czech education system, among other reasons because the Czech Republic is not able to provide good-quality education to Roma children, who are, in many cases, diagnosed as mildly mentally retarded and educated outside the mainstream system (e.g. Amnesty International, 2015). The policy attempts to move children with mild mental retardation to mainstream classrooms faced strong opposition from Czech schools. We believe that one of the important reasons for the inability of the Czech system to provide Roma and other minority children with good-quality education is teachers’ beliefs related to student motivation, learning capabilities, and trustfulness. Reseach of this topic is relevant also in European context because it enables to explore and appreciate the differencies in the manifestation of this important phenomenon in different societies.
The aim of the paper is to answer the question whether the schools that are able to achieve good results and especially good results with disadvantaged students show a higher level of academic optimism among their teachers. We use the data from the Czech Longitudinal Study of Education that follows the TIMSS & PIRLS 2011 students till the end of their compulsory education (grade 9).
Amnesty International. (2015). Must Try Harder. Ethnic discrimination of Romani children in Czech schools. London: Amnesty International. Benard, B. (2004). Resiliency: What we have learned. San Francisco: WestEd. Boonen, T. Pinxten, M., Van Damme, J. & Onghena, P. (2014). Should schools be optimistic? An investigation of the association between academic optimism of schools and student achievement in primary education. Educational Research And Evaluation, 20(1), 3-24. doi:10.1080/13803611.2013.860037 Hoy, W. K., Tarter, C. J., & Woolfolk Hoy, A. (2006a). Academic optimism of schools: A force for student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 43, 425-446. doi:10.3102/00028312043003425 Hoy, W. K., Tarter, C. J., & Woolfolk Hoy, A. (2006b). Academic optimism of schools: A secondorder confirmatory factor analysis. In W. K. Hoy & C. G. Miskel (Eds.), Contemporary issues in educational policy and school outcomes (135-158). Greenwich, CT: Information Age. McGuigan, L., & Hoy, W. K. (2006). Principal Leadership: Creating a Culture of Academic Optimism to Improve Achievement for All Students. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 5(3), 203-229. doi: 10.1080/15700760600805816. Pajares, F. (2001). Toward a positive psychology of academic motivation. The Journal of Educational Research, 95 (1), 27-35. Reynolds, D., Sammons, P., De Fraine, B., Van Damme, J., Townsend, T., Teddie, C., & Stringfield, S. (2015). Educational effectiveness research (EER): a state-of-the-art review. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25:2, 197-230, DOI:10.1080/09243453.2014.885450. 79 Straková, J., Spilková, J., Simonová, J., Friedleanderová, H., & Hanzák, T. 2013. Názory učitelů základních škol na potřebu změn ve školním vzdělávání (Opinions of basic school teachers on the changes needed in school education). ORBIS SCHOLAE, 2013, 7 (1) 79-100. Strakova, J., & Simonova, J. (2016). Beliefs of Czech teachers as a prerequisite for effective teaching. Studia Peadagogica, in print. Woolfolk Hoy, A., Hoy, W.A., & Kurz, N.M. (2008). Teacher´s academic optimism: The development and test of a new construct. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 821-835.
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