Happy teachers, better students: 3 ways to motivate your teachers and engage your students

Teachers who are motivated have a greater positive impact on the lives of their students and are less likely to jump ship.

Teacher in classroom speaking to pupils

Edited on: July 24, 2023

Have you ever asked your teachers why they show up to work every day? If you have, you probably heard something like “for my students” and “because my kids are my purpose”. Most educators are selfless in their pursuit of bright, promising futures for their learners, so having tools to ensure teacher motivation is essential.

When pupils score well on projects and exams, demonstrate critical thinking, and display signs of empathy and compassion, teachers are happiest. Why? Because well-rounded and engaged students are proof of a job well done.

But, the road to student achievement isn’t an easy one. Today’s teachers are expected to handle larger classrooms and, often, under tighter budgets. They have strict lesson plans that allow little wiggle room for innovation and spontaneity. Furthermore, teachers are held to higher and higher standards while retaining little autonomy over curricula.

This is to say nothing of the strain that was put on them by the pandemic and remote learning.

It’s no wonder why many educators get burned out. Luckily, there are numerous things you can do to address teacher motivation. At the end of the day, happy teachers produce better-performing students and high-achieving students lead to grateful, supportive parents. 

By the end of this article, you’ll know three different ways to support your faculty that will ensure an academic environment that is beneficial for teachers and students.

3 ways to increase teacher motivation

Motivated teachers perform better. They're more attentive to their students, more creative and thorough in delivering lessons, and more engaged with their work and peers. Accordingly, boosting teacher motivation helps everyone – students, parents, society, and the teacher's themselves. 

But motivation isn't something that can be flipped on like a switch. To help faculty become and stay motivated requires a long-term, sustained, and targeted effort by the administration in the shape of trust, support, and understanding. It may be challenging at first, but the results will be well worth it. 

Let's get into three practical methods on how to increase teacher motivation. 

1. Give teachers autonomy

Teachers drive student learning. Which is why solutions to increase teacher motivation must include a degree of autonomy.

By factoring in the expertise of your staff, you are incorporating valuable insight into the decision-making process. The more you encourage teachers to contribute their knowledge and ideas, the more information you’ll have to make decisions that benefit the entire school.

Most importantly, reports demonstrate that when teachers feel more control over their work, they perform better and achieve positive student outcomes.

First, ask your teachers what they need. For instance, many teachers today want to incorporate technology into their classrooms. Young students are drawn to tech like flies and nobody knows it better than teachers. Plus, with the edTech tool boom that came with the pandemic, teachers have more options and digital resources available than ever before. In the classroom, tools like tablets, SMART boards, throwable microphones, and other pieces of kit provide interactive and unique learning experiences that can be tailored to student needs.

Plus, they make lesson plans engaging and fun. Studies show that the more students have a good time while learning the better they are at retaining information.

Technology aside, no teacher motivation strategy is complete without letting instructors make some decisions over lesson plans. Most curricula are scripted and require little more than implementation. But, there are opportunities for enhancement and, if you’ve ever witnessed a student nod off during a lecture, you’ll understand why classrooms benefit from a bit of spontaneity and interaction.

Do any of your teachers use games to reinforce lectures? Competitions like Jeopardy and debates infuse energy into a classroom and provide opportunities for students to reflect on what they’ve learned.

When teachers feel they have autonomy and trust to deliver lessons in the way they best see fit, they'll be motivated to put their best foot forward and find ingenious ways to teach. For example, some teachers are leveraging both tech and the debate style to get the most out of their students – they're using a Catchbox throwable microphone to quiz students, give them a platform to express themselves, and have fun while doing it. 

Indeed, when it comes to tech, it doesn't have to be all about screens. There are a myriad of ways to use our throwable mic, from a vocabulary game to a debate competition; teachers can toss the mic to students and gauge how well they know the material.

2. Encourage teachers to work and grow together

Teachers are lifelong learners. A key way to fuel teacher motivation is to provide opportunities to learn and collaborate – in the school and beyond it.

Next time your school is facing a crucial decision, why not let teachers get together to think up some solutions? Letting staff members work together is great for two reasons: to drive teacher motivation and to provide valuable learning opportunities.

If you have several new teachers on staff, try implementing a mentoring program. Newer, inexperienced teachers will benefit from opportunities to shadow and learn from more experienced teachers. Issues like classroom management, curriculum concerns, and scheduling are easier to address and solve in a friendly one-on-one environment.

Mentoring programs are useful to acclimate new teachers, but how do you motivate veteran teachers?

Train them. Seminars and training programs are necessary for professional development at all stages. No one wants to feel like a dinosaur in the face of new technologies and instructional methods. But more than that – just like their students – teachers want to grow, progress, and improve both personally and professionally. So encouraging them to attend workshops, conferences, training, and mentorship programs can help them discover new and better ways to educate.

So, to keep teacher motivation high, think about the most relevant activities that will engage and inspire your staff.

3. Offer recognition and respect

Next to student achievement, teachers desire recognition and respect from administrators and society at large. 

Think about the last time you had to give a performance review. Did your staff turn critical and defensive? That’s because listing everything a teacher is doing wrong will hardly motivate them to do better. But, you know what will? Compliments.

That’s right, spark teacher motivation with a few words of affirmation. As one educator wrote, “Compliments are motivating. When teachers are told what they are doing well, they will keep doing what they are doing well.”

Spend a few moments each day recognizing excellence through staff memos, emails, and at meetings. Celebrate teachers for trying out new projects and educational initiatives. Create team-building and knowledge-sharing exercises where staff can talk about their successes. 

While compliments are always appreciated, teachers understand assessments are necessary. In fact, they want to be assessed. But, feedback, comments, and suggestions need to be fair; furthermore, standards and requirements need to be achievable.

One way to make assessments fair and balanced is to ask your staff. Another way is to allow teachers some time to reflect on their activities. Having a bit of quiet time will enable them to think about ways to improve lectures and research new ways to meet the needs of their students.

Be who your teachers need you to be

Teacher motivation initiatives are necessary to maintain happy and efficient schools. The more you recognize teachers for their experience and expertise, the more valued they feel.Inspired individuals inspire others, and schools are the best place to foster this cycle as much as possible. 

Of course, how you motivate teachers isn't limited to the points discussed above – those are just a few key ideas and suggestions. While it may be recommended that you practice them, you should also find the best ways to support your staff in a way that works for them. So before you go and give your teachers free rein, send them off to a seminar, and shower them with praise, it might be wise first to sit down and discuss how they feel you can best contribute to boosting their motivation. 


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