Teachers at work: The effect of supervision, collegiality, and effort on teachers' perception of "flow" and student learning

Robert Henry Holster, Fordham University


The “inner life” of teachers—their feelings and experiences—has been all but ignored by researchers in their rush to analyze teachers' behaviors, practices, and productivity. Yet life in the classroom is highly charged, human, and personal and deserves closer attention. And anyone familiar with teacher-student interactions knows that the way teachers feel, their joy and involvement, have a profound effect on their actions and motivation. This study surveys the total universe of teachers in a northeastern urban school system that we have called Urbanville, seeking to test the relationship between forces inside and outside the classroom and teachers, perception of joy and flow. This research tested (a) the differences in teachers, perception of supervision, collegiality, and effort by school; (b) the relationship between teachers with varying degrees of administrator supervision and their sense of joy in student learning and flow; (c) degree of effort and joy and flow; (d) collegiality and joy in learning; (e) the school environment and teacher sense of joy; and (f) the gender of teachers and flow, joy, professional development self-management, and assisting other teachers. The findings of the study of Urbanville's some 540 teachers in 14 different schools (12 elementary, 1 middle, and 1 high school) were as follows: All schools averaged 2.17 visits by supervisors per month, higher in elementary and lower in the middle and high school. Teacher perceptions of their effort in building professional relationships, vision, and mission were high overall. Joy and a sense of flow in the classroom were significantly correlated at the .000 level of probability. And as predicted, a sense of flow and perceptions of the work environment of teachers were significantly related. The implications of this study are many. First, school leaders and teachers themselves should pay greater attention to the environment of schools and how these conditions (supervision, colleagueship, involvement of staff) affect the way teachers feel about their work and their engagement. Further research should explore the effects of joy and flow on students: their excitement, engagement, and achievement in America's schools.

Subject Area

School administration|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Holster, Robert Henry, "Teachers at work: The effect of supervision, collegiality, and effort on teachers' perception of "flow" and student learning" (1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9938905.