How to Keep Teachers Motivated

Dr. Lyne Ssebikindu
Dr. Lyne Ssebikindu
Elementary School Principal; Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

The Importance of Teacher Motivation

As schools across the nation are announcing school closures, we need to empower and motivate our teachers. We have received several calls and emails from key stakeholders concerning the future of our education. Legitimate questions have been raised such as how long will the school closures remain; how will students complete their classes for the remaining school year; will classes be conducted online; how about students without internet access?

It is against this background that I would like to highlight the important role that teachers have in the lives of our students. At first, teachers were okay to stay home for a few days. But as days went on, more teachers started getting worried about their status, students, and resources needed. Teachers are not only worried about social distancing but also moving on to the online world because of the unfamiliarity of providing learning using digital platforms and lack of resources for some students.

Educators around the world are experiencing fear, anticipation, and anxiety because of the COVID-19 crisis. As school leaders we are called on to motivate our teachers by constantly staying in communication with them, acknowledging their dedication to students, while also exploring options for student learning.

This pandemic calls for teachers and teacher leaders to draw from their already deep well of motivation and flexibility. Teachers need to be motivated and flexible in order to meet their students and family needs. Motivation plays a big part in our education system.

What is Motivation?

Motivation can be conceived of as a cycle in which thoughts influence behaviors, drive performance affects thoughts, and the cycle begins again. Each stage of the cycle is composed of many dimensions including attitudes, beliefs, intentions, effort, and withdrawal, which can all affect the motivation that an individual experiences. Most psychological theories hold that motivation exists purely within the individual, but socio-cultural theories perceive motivation as an outcome of participation in actions and activities within the cultural context of social groups (Rueda, Robert; Moll, Luis C., 1994).

In this article, teacher motivation can be conceptualized in the following four ways:

  1. Professional Development: A need to provide professional development that is meaningful such as virtual lessons, ESL and SPED classes.
  2. Communication: Teachers need time to discuss what kind of things motivate them. They need to enhance intrinsic motivation among their teams.
  3. Collaboration: Opportunities for collaboration are very crucial. Teachers need time to share ideas and activities to enhance their profession.
  4. Decision Making: Teacher voice is very important. Teachers will be motivated if they feel part of the organization and decision-making process.

Strategies to Keep Teachers Motivated

With the coronavirus epidemic, a lot of our colleagues are finding ways to hold remote coaching sessions with the students. It is very important that we keep teachers motivated and acknowledge their efforts to offer learning opportunities for students. Below are some of the strategies we can use to keep teachers motivated:

Practice 1: Build Relationships

It is important for practitioners to continue building relationships with each other and students. We need to have social and emotional support during these times, which can be arranged using virtual platforms, Facebook, Instagram, and so on.

Practice 2: Communication

Communication is the key to a successful organization. Create a schedule where you are in constant communication with your teacher leaders.

Practice 3: Leadership Opportunities

Teachers want to feel that they are part of your organization. Assign different tasks to teacher leaders. Meet with your teachers and teacher leaders for a brainstorming session.

Practice 4: Encouragement

Schools need to create different ways to encourage teachers. Collaboration among team members is very important. Let the staff share different encouraging words. Here is an encouraging note from one of the team members, T. Jones: “We are all in this together! Our hope, love, and dedication for education are not going unnoticed. We as educators must continue to have a strong impact on these young men and women lives. These children will grow up to be our doctors, lawyers, nurses, presidents, or even our great grandchildren teachers. These students love the way we smile, laugh, and care for them.”

Practice 5: Support

As we move on to online teaching, some educators have been reluctant to provide online classes. As teacher leaders we need to support teachers by giving them resources and tools to be able to address the needs of their students.


Rueda, Robert; Moll, Luis C. (1994). “Chapter 7: A Sociocultural Perspective on Motivation”. In O’Neill, Jr., Harold F.; Drillings, Michael (eds.). Motivation: Theory and Research. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8058-1286-2.
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