What keeps you motivated in the classroom?

jumping fish 255A school needs self-motivated teachers like a pen needs ink. Their energy flows through the corridors and classrooms, motivating the pupils and creating a ‘can do’ attitude.

We are models for our students to follow, and when we are feeling motivated and energised, it’s infectious. A growth-mindset tends to emanate from the motivated teacher. Sadly, the same may also be said when we are feeling demotivated, stressed or dissatisfied.

Motivation is with us all of the time. But it is often only in our workplace that we can do something about it. And if we don’t, then sadly it is not at work that we see the effects of being demotivated, it is when we get home that we so often vent!

So how do we stay motivated? Motivation is a funny thing. Too many of us live in our head and use our body to transport our brain from one lesson to the next, so it’s very easy to believe we can rationalize what motivates us.

But motivation doesn’t lie in the head. Like so many important drivers, it is deeper within us and not so easily rationalized. It’s instinctive, invisible. We know when we feel motivated and we certainly know when we are not. But we may not always know exactly why one thing motivates us over another, or why some tasks are put off again and again until deadlines loom.

Motivation, like so many other ‘invisible’ elements of the school environment, has a significant impact on what we think, why we think it and how we feel. As the educationalist, Erik Jensen, tells us, ‘How we feel is what’s real; it’s the link to what we think.’

But addressing those invisible drivers can have very visible, physical benefits. Talking to one another in the language of our motivators raises morale, increases productivity, and reduces absenteeism. Identifying our intrinsic motivation means knowing what ‘makes us tick’ and such insight can bring enormous benefits, both for ourselves and for those around us.

Arguably, we all have the same motivators within us, but we rank them differently, depending on our wants and needs and our current circumstances. Unlike our personality, motivation is dynamic, it changes in response to our situation.  But it is possible to identify common motivations in all of us.

Such motivations are identified very neatly in the Motivational Maps, designed by James Sale. These show the nine motivators that are in all of us. Using a series of questions, the Maps identify how each of us rank them – from our top motivators down to our lowest.

Motivators include:

  • The Searcher

Motivated by meaning and benefit to others; likes to see the bigger picture and ultimate purpose in what they are doing (many teachers record this as their top motivator!).

  • The Creator

Motivated by creating new ideas and solving problems; change-friendly. Creators are at their happiest when facing new problems to solve.

  • The Defender

Motivated by security and stability; change-averse; Defenders seek the security and reassurance of long term friendships and predictable futures at work.

  • The Spirit

Motivated by autonomy – the freedom to make independent decisions, regulate their work and manage their own time.

There are others. Knowing what motivational type you are is very liberating. It explains why you react the way you do in certain situations.

It’s easy to dismiss such invisible things as of less importance to the visible work we do, or the visible rewards around us.  But let’s face it, we don’t all enter teaching only for the money or the holidays (despite what our friends outside the teaching profession may say). There must be something else that drives us on to do this most challenging of jobs and the Motivational Map helps us rediscover it.

Which of these motivators drives you, or are you motivated by something different?

The full article is on the eteach website

About the author

Andrew Hammond works with school leaders, teachers and pupils, to identify the individual motivations driving them, to achieve more effective communication, better teamwork, greater productivity and ultimately more satisfaction at work, and therefore at home. Andrew helps to ensure teachers are placed in the right roles and given the right responsibilities – so they can continue to get out of bed, commute to school and face the challenges of the day, whilst radiating that all-important energy for the children.


Contact andrew@hammond-consulting.co.uk to see a demo Motivational Map.

One thought on “What keeps you motivated in the classroom?

  1. Teaching and motivation are interlinked with the duty of care and responsibility. I have been working as a teacher since so many years and I see my own motivation for the job comes from the duty of care and responsibilty. Since the 1990s – the Ofsted body, political interference, and other accountabilities for the teaching job has increased and it had damaged the morale of teachers because successive governments came and gone but they never Thanked Teachers for their motivational and serious contribution to the nation’s future. However, I must say one thing about this mysterious link of rewards like our pay awards, pension and few other rewards are also linked to most of teachers’ motivation. Motivation is not an empty glass – it is still half full with self respect, care, accountability, and professionalism.

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