Commitment and effectiveness:
contexts which make a difference
Commitment is a key factor in teachers' work, and the level of this varies between primary and secondary teachers within and across each professional life phase and varies also, for a significant number of teachers in secondary schools, according to the level of socio-economic advantage and disadvantage of the school. It represents a significant emotional as well as cognitive investment; it is not static or necessarily stable and, as earlier chapters in this book have shown, it is affected primarily by teachers' sense of identity, professional life phase, the influences upon these and ways that teachers manage them. Commitment is thus located in the personal values, professional interests and micro-political, emotional, social and political contexts of their work (Kelchtermans 2005). It also has consequences for pupils' learning and achievement; and the VITAE research provided the data from which both perceived and statistically significant associations between teacher commitment and pupil attainment were able to be identified. This chapter focuses, therefore, on the connections between commitment, effectiveness and standards in teaching.
Teacher commitment has been defined as the degree of psychological attachment teachers have to their profession (Chapman 1982). It is a term often used by teachers to describe themselves and each other (Nias 1981; 1989) and is a part of their professional identity (Elliott and Crosswell 2001; Crosswell 2006). Its outward expression is to be found in teachers who are motivated, willing to learn, and who believe that they can make a difference to the learning and achievement of students. Such teachers also make huge personal investments in their work, such that their sense of personal worth