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EFL teachers’ enjoyment

Supportive schools make teachers happier and more effective.

School climate is a stronger predictor of teachers’ enjoyment than self-efficacy or wellbeing, according to a recent study by Lawrence Jun Zhang, Jalil Fathi and Farnoosh Mohammaddokht at the University of Kurdistan, Sanandaj, Iran.

In line with a movement towards ‘positive psychology’, which looks for positive influences such as what is going right rather than wrong, Zhang et al set out to examine how well EFL teachers’ enjoyment could be predicted by assessing three aspects of their experience: perceived school climate, self-efficacy and psychological wellbeing.

Teachers’ perception of their school’s climate was measured using the 21-item ‘School-level Environment Questionnaire (R-SLEQ)’, which asks about collaboration (co-operation and team-work), student relations (are they positive, respectful and trusting?), school resources (materials, technology and support), decision making (are teachers involved?), and instructional innovation (is there support for new approaches?).

Self-efficacy was measured using the 24-item ‘Teachers’ Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES)’ that asks how competent and effective teachers see themselves in different aspects of their teaching practice. Psychological well-being was measured using the 25-item ‘Index of Psychological Well-Being at Work’ which investigates feelings of competency, involvement and recognition and whether they feel valued and appreciated.

Teaching enjoyment was measured using the nine-item ‘Foreign Language Teaching Enjoyment Scale (FLTES)’ which assesses how teachers’ rate their personal enjoyment from teaching, whether they feel appreciated by their students, and how well they enjoy their social interactions in the classroom generally.

These questionnaires were answered by 335 EFL teachers (188 female and 147 male) at language institutes and schools in Iran.

Using structural equation modelling, while higher scores on all three scales positively predicted teachers’ enjoyment, perceived school climate was found to be the strongest direct predictor of teachers’ enjoyment, as well as also influencing self-efficacy and wellbeing. Wellbeing was also influenced by self-efficacy.

That school climate, self-efficacy and well-being all predict enjoyment is hardly surprising, but what is interesting in this study is the relative contributions made, both directly and indirectly. Teachers who felt competent and effective were more likely to enjoy teaching and have better psychological wellbeing; but having better psychological wellbeing did not predict better competence, or self-efficacy.

Positive psychological wellbeing directly predicted enjoyment, however, supported by self-efficacy and a good school climate.

But the biggest predictor overall was perceived school climate, suggesting that a co-operative and supportive working environment is the best way to promote teaching competence, wellbeing and enjoyment.


REFERENCE

Zhang, L. J., Fathi, J. and Mohammaddokht, F. (2023) Predicting Teaching Enjoyment from Teachers’ Perceived School Climate, Self-Efficacy, and Psychological Wellbeing at Work: EFL Teachers. Perceptual and Motor Skills https://doi-org.ezp.lib.cam.ac.uk/10.1177/00315125231182269

Image courtesy of Library
Gill Ragsdale
Gill Ragsdale
Gill has a PhD in Evolutionary Psychology from Cambridge, and teaches Psychology with the Open University, but also holds an RSA-Cert TEFL. Gill has taught EFL in the UK, Turkey, Egypt and to the refugees in the Calais 'Jungle' in France. She currently teaches English to refugees in the UK.
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