Developing Self-Efficacy

Author: Walter Basnight, Secondary Learning Coach for the American International School Chennai, India
and member of the Thinking Collaborative Futures Team

Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the sources of action required to manage prospective situations. – Albert Bandura

In the 3rd edition of Cognitive Coaching: Developing Self-directed Leaders and Learning (2016), Costa and Garmston state that Efficacy may be the most catalytic of the five states of mind. A person’s sense of efficacy is a prime factor in determining how complex problems are resolved. Teachers with robust efficacy are likely to expend more energy in their work, persevere longer, set more challenging goals, and continue in the face of barriers or temporary failure.

As a new instructional coach, it is Efficacy that I rely on the most. I wonder, how does my own efficacy as a coach impact my ability to support teachers? Despite my training and the support I receive at school, I must consistently work on my own internal mindset. If efficacy is indeed an essential state of mind in my coaching, how might I further shape it?

One resource that has been particularly helpful is The Obstacle Is The Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage by Ryan Holiday. As Holiday shares, Stoic Philosophy encourages us to view the obstacles before us as opportunities. In my work I face “obstacles” with the teachers I serve in many forms: lack of interest, lack of understanding, and lack of time, to name a few. Holiday’s book has provided a different frame for approaching such obstacles (the Discipline of Perception), encouraged me to be persistent (the Discipline of Action) and prompted me to cultivate my own humility and flexibility (the Discipline of Will). Stated differently, Holiday’s book has supported me in being more efficacious and flexible in my thinking as a new coach. It has taught me that the essence of philosophy is action and that making good on the ability to turn obstacles upside down with my own mind. Efficacy is in my control. His book ends with these Stoic tenets:
See things for what they are.
Do what we can.
Endure and bear what we must.
What blocks the path now is a path.
What once impeded action advances action.
The Obstacle is the Way.

In the next three Sustaining the Journey posts, I will explore the Stoic Disciplines of Perception, Action, and Will as I see them applying to my work as an instructional coach.

As you move through this week, how might your perceptions influence your path?
How might knowledge of Holiday’s disciplines support you in this work?