Energy Bus for Schools

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Study from Dr. Julia Yoo at Lamar University on ‘Teacher Efficacy’ The Effect of Professional Development on Teacher Efficacy & Teacher’s Self-Analysis of Their Efficacy Change”

The positive effect of professional development training programs are known to be positively associated with teacher efficacy (Kazemanpour & Sadler, 2015)
Participants said that it could either positively or negatively affect their teacher efficacy. For instance, after gaining more knowledge about contents and instructional strategies, they found themselves overrated with confidence or underrated with the feelings of uncertainty. This is consistent with Bandura’s (1997) view that found that teachers efficacy is directly tied to an engaging and specific training program.

Positive Schools contains programs that will address teacher efficacy by offering them strategies to assist in their personal development. When we address vision, purpose, and positive thinking, it is meant to help teachers and staff develop habits that will reinforce the training principles all year. We want our teachers with a strong and confident belief in themselves that they can positively impact all students and staff they encounter.

Dissertation Highlights from ‘Exploring Teachers’ Perceptions of the Energy Bus Curriculum on School Culture & Staff Morale’ by Dr. Jim Van Allan

This dissertation, written by Positive Schools Director Dr. Jim Van Allan, focused on one model school in 2017 who was one of the first to complete a training program with the Energy Bus for Schools Leadership Journey (now rebranded as Positive Schools). Dr. Van Allan interviewed all staff and teachers on campus one year after they complete the professional development. During that year, teachers were exposed to the Energy Bus principles in two separate sessions as well as developed activities and initiatives to reinforce the principles during the school year.
The purpose of this study was to explore how the implementation of the following The Energy Bus principles: desire, sharing the vision and focus, fuel your ride with positive energy, enthusiasm and love attract passengers, drive with purpose and enjoying the ride impacted staff development and sustaining a positive school culture and teacher morale. This study explored how teachers felt specific Energy Bus principles affected their staff development and helped to avoid complacency with the school’s culture. In addition, this study contained information related to employee motivations to determine what makes teachers operate from a mental and attitude standpoint. Teacher attitude was linked to teacher morale as the study contained questions looking to understand how Energy Bus impacted their overall morale and attitude toward their school.

Ambrose Elementary’ has shown consistent scores indicating a strong culture; thus, another purpose of this study was to understand how Energy Bus material helps to sustain this culture. Readers can understand from reading this study whether professional development activities are worth the price of investment as far as time and money. Professional development often is used to address school culture issues because most programs target teachers and present information about how to improve their teaching and attitudes (McNeill & Knight, 2013). The one question this study addressed with regards to Energy Bus professional development was: Did it work?

Impact of a High-Performing School on Various Community Issues:

Community & Housing Market

Research shows one of the main reasons people decide to move to a certain neighborhood is due to a high performing school district (Ducay, 2015).
Additional research suggests evidence of school rankings is valued by homebuyers and may have lasting distributional implications (Martinez, 2010).

Research related to themes and topics Positive Schools program provides:

School Culture

School Culture While the physical structure of a school can have direct influences on the health and wellness of teachers, a positive culture goes beyond just the physical nature of the school and resources inside of it (Fox, 2014). Another element includes the way people interact with each other permeates the working and learning conditions inside the school (Fox, 2014). Relationships are an integral part to defining school culture.


A positive school culture develops teachers and administrators into individuals who want to actively talk and work with others (Guo, 2012).
Teachers have a need to feel close to their colleagues and even to administrators. A positive school culture has teachers and leaders who actively work to create respectful and caring behaviors toward their colleagues and students (Weissbourd et al., 2013).
A connected teacher, whether it be toward others or themselves, will be more committed to their profession (Thapa et. al). They have an investment in the process for how the school culture is created. In a study by Guo (2012), data from 12 middle schools revealed teachers who had strong relationships with each other and their administrators were on a positive path to a better school culture. Researchers saw relationships as a driving force to real, positive school change by collecting interviews and other data.


A good administrator models, motivates, and empowers all teachers to reach their fullest potential (Rodriguez, 2010). A Perumal (2011) study included researcher visits to many schools to investigate how to raise morale and school climate. Data indicated strong leadership with clear guidelines and loving support helps improve school culture and staff morale.

Teacher Morale

Nationally, teachers are leaving the profession at high rates, with 40% to 50% leaving after their first five years (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2014).

There are many causes for this epidemic and low teacher morale remains a central reason (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2014). Teachers begin to lack trust in their environment and leaders when they do not feel supported or they become micromanaged by school administrators (Ward, 2015). A Sabin (2015) survey indicated teachers felt a lack of collaboration with colleagues, in addition to pressure from administrators, as a reason for low morale. Nationally, morale is suffering due to some of the same reasons. Teachers are devoid of opportunities to examine and improve instructional practices by interacting and collaborating with each other (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2014).

Environment, Output, and Goals

School administrators can help their employees avoid a burnout by understanding learning habits, employee needs, and motivational tactics. In schools, burnout is often a result of work overload, role problems, school climate and policies, conflicts with employees, and student problems (Fernet, Guay, Senecal, & Austin, 2011).

When school administrators implement sustainable professional development, teachers & staff believe they are working toward a purpose. Their work effort rises to between 85% and 90% of their abilities. (Rodda, 1997).

Tailored and Fun Professional Development

Knowles (1973) developed six aspects of adult learning, which need to be followed to gain buy-in from teachers with regards to professional development material:


  1. needs to be self-directed and autonomous at times
  2. must use knowledge and life experiences
  3. needs to be goal-oriented
  4. must be relevant to their current experiences
  5. needs to highlight practical solutions for change
  6. must encourage collaboration

Sustainable Professional Development

Single-sessions professional development may not have the desired response unless it is connected and weaved through the fabric of the school (Harris, 2002). Professional development needs to accurately reflect the vision and desire of the principal and speak the language of the school. (Van Allan, 2017) Ongoing professional development helps schools to focus on problem prevention rather than problem solving (Freiberg, 1999). Ongoing professional development reaffirms school goals and dreams, which is a common thread of schools looking for sustainability in their culture (Freiberg, 1999). Schools need to be a collaborative environment where the skills and expertise of its members are shared and celebrated, and ongoing professional development can be a tool with which to achieve that. (Van Allan, 2017).

Drawing Conclusions from the Dissertation on Energy Bus for Schools Professional Development

-One of the most significant aspects of this study’s results is there was evidence showing The Energy Bus training worked to sustain Ambrose Elementary’s positive school culture, and staff morale, and was actively helping them to avoid complacency. It appeared to be time and money well-spent by Ambrose’s administrators since participants had positive things to say and showed support for the training, Energy Bus principles and their impact on school culture, and overall training format.
-Other schools in similar situations to Ambrose Elementary can use these results to help sustain their positive culture as well. Schools who are looking for additional information can inject new life into an already great atmosphere and can read the results of a model school who has laid the groundwork for them. These results provide a roadmap for other schools to use when looking at different forms of professional development.
-Additionally, if there are schools who are struggling from a culture standpoint, these results are significant because they showed the Energy Bus training material does have a positive impact. Even though it showed a positive impact on a positive culture, it was a positive impact nonetheless and can be tried in a school whose culture is not where they intend it to be. The results can give schools a blueprint for what to expect when they use the material and the kind of ideas that can be implemented on campus. The results almost act as a review of the material based on the interviews from teachers who have used the material.
-Another area of significance of this study was the power of positive thinking present at Ambrose. Teachers mentioned numerous times their own shifts in thinking related to their communication and attitude, which, in turn, are leading to shifts in student thinking too. The results suggest a link between teacher attitude and student attitude as a result of using training principles in the classroom and around campus. Teachers were able to describe scenarios and provide examples of how students are using the material as well.

-Sometimes, there is a feeling that professional development is looked at only for the teachers. Evidence shows much of professional development for schools is content-focused and subject-matter-focused. The Energy Bus principles are meant for the entire school and surrounding community. The principles are designed to be embraced in a genuine and ongoing fashion, and Ambrose has flawlessly executed the plan. Ambrose has created many new ideas as a result of the training, which now can strengthen Energy Bus principles moving forward for other schools.


While The Energy Bus trainings are not the sole reason for ‘Ambrose Elementary’ sustaining their positive culture and avoiding complacency, it did help teachers and administrators discover a genuine, common bond to share. Numerous stakeholders, coupled with district, state, and national mandates, can create a challenging environment for many schools. Furthermore, schools also must handle a changing demographic of student as well as parental involvement or lack thereof. A school culture can only be transformed or sustained with an intentionality that permeates the school. All school stakeholders must be aware of the changes and learn to genuinely embrace them. Schools need to realize that one-day in-services at the beginning of the year with limited to no follow-up are not as effective as ongoing training with multiple follow-ups throughout the year or even years. This gives all teachers a chance to thoroughly and, hopefully, genuinely embrace training principles that will help them enjoy the ride of their lives.

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