Teacher Motivation

There is a lot of research on 'motivation' and most of it is associated with student motivation in education. Further the issue seems to be addressed (especially in ELT) more in terms of extrinsic mode (like provide interesting material, appropriate method or fun activities) than taking into consideration the intrinsic part of it. There is little research (as far as I know) done on the issue of teacher motivation. It has been observed that the main focus of teachers are students and for students it is teachers. In my part of world (Central India) teachers often complain that students are not interested. Students, when asked, replied that teachers are not interested in teaching. So for me, the puzzle is how to motivate teachers for making teaching learning-friendly.

Amir A. Ravayee's picture
Amir A. Ravayee

 Dear Friend,

I do agree with you on the point that students can sense it when the teacher himself is not interested in the subject he is teacheing.

I think the reason is that teachers try to to teach the way they did some years ago.

It goes without saying that modern students have different tastes and we must respect them. That's we must change our methodology. If we provide our teachers with modern facilities such as smart boards, data projectors, CDs and DVDs they 'll be more and more motivated to attend their classes.

Imagine you have to teach the same book with the same method for years. Every teacher might loose his interest. That is the problem we had in our center but as an ELT manager I asked teachers to:

1-  Prepare power points for the subjects they want to teach.

2- Browse the internet to download games, crossword puzzles, worksheets and ....

3- Take part in OJT(On the Job Training) courses and they were praised.

In conclusion we tried to motivate our teachers and the results are woderful.

Best regards,

Amir Abbass Ravayee


bendriss's picture


I do agree with you that if teachers are unmotivated they would surely pass on that attitude to their students. There is an Arabic proverb that says:'He who doesn't have a thing won't give it'. The question is, then, how to get teachers motivated or as Jeremy Harmer put it'motivating the unmotivated'. well, I think that many teachers do come into this job just because they can't get another one. For this category teaching is mainly a source of income. They come to the classroom because otherwise they won't be paid their salary. I think that we can't talk about intrinsic motivation in this case. They surely lack it. However, there is another chance of getting these people motivated. It's by providing some extrinsic motivation. In this case, it's usually some inspection and an obligation to respect deadlines and do their job well. 

The probelm is that students do feel whether their teacher is intrinsically motivated about his/her job or no. Being just extinsically motivated, the teacher has nothing to teach the students on being motivated and loving one's job and all that... In this case, the teacher would rely more on the extrinsic motivation of the students to get them do their class work. Exams are usually a source of extrinsic motivation for students. Since their teacher, sometimes their ideal person, is not interested in the subject they won't be, too. What we get then is an extrinsically motivated teacher working with extrinsically motivated students.

How much learning would take place in circumtances like these? I don't think much.


EFL teacher

Safi, Morocco.

monicabirchall's picture

Hi Brahim, Amir and Krishna,

Reading your commnets made me think about my own motivation as an English teacher.

From my own experience, I can say that many are the facts that keep me motivated! One of them is being recognized as a teacher, not only financially but also professionally speaking.

 Not being too overloaded is also crucial and this has to do with payment. If we got decent wages, we wouldn´t have to work our fingers to the bone, like most of us do in our country so as to manage to survive!

Having some time off to relax and do other things can be extremely enriching and motivational as well!

Students´ interest might also contribute to our motivation. How many of you can remember those groups that you simply loved , loved teaching?! Entering those groups was inspiring! Whereas there were those who were like a nightmare! So students energy do play an important part in our motivation!

I also believe that our openess to accept the new is also important!I feel really motivated when I´m learning new things! But then we need to be given the space to do so! Some teachers are so loaded that when they come back home they just want to sleep!

Flexibility and openness to the new also keep me motivated.I  try to be open  to hear the students and attend to their needs! Games, humour, technology give a nice spice to my teaching! When preparing a class I try to picture myself  as a student and ask  if I would enjoy it! If not,I throw my plan away and start from scratch! That is the advantage of once being a foreign English student, we know how boring it is to endure tedious lessos!

 So teachers, in my view, are not the only ones   responsible for their lack of motivation, the whole enviroment plays its role!

But let not deny that good wages can do wonders to our motivation!Why should judges, politicians, doctors get so well-paid whereas we teachers who form them are so badly-paid?




Mi's picture

Hi, Krishna

I loved reading you post and your query and isn't it amazing what the net can do to open up our minds and hearts? Just by reading the insightful replies to your questions I got  much more enthusiastic about the topic and willing to share my view as well.

As much as I agree with Monica and Amir, I still stick to the idea that intrinsic motivation comes from within and, no matter the circumstances; it can even dwindle and sometimes be no more than a sparkle of the fire that set it into motion; but it has to be there at all times.

So, teachers have to be reminded of what made them choose to be where and what they are. And these choices, be it for money matters or otherwise, have to be firmly acknowledged by them as such, because in life, you only stick  to what you believe in and being reminded of your choices leads to a renewal in your commitments thus a new found resilience and, hopefully, better teaching.

Teachers are constant learners and once reminded of their status they will soon resort to doing what they should do best, that is, to learn! As in tandem comes good teaching that can happen anywhere and anyhow as long as there is true interest and commitment.

What do you think of that?

Mirela Ramacciotti

ZedZero's picture

Thankyou everyone above for your insight.I starting reading the above posts because I admit I am de-motivated at work. I want some advice. I'm not just teaching for the money, I'm doing it because I love learning and teaching. But I've lost my heart for it and want to find my way back.Without going into too much detail I think I'm burnt out. I'm doing 40 plus classes a week and have little to no prep time.My only solution is to keep trying new things, but I just don't have the time. Is it really worth it sacrificing my weekend for sanity in the classroom, but insanity outside?Let me know your thoughts. 

girishseshamani's picture

Hi KrishnaI can clearly identify with you purely because I am presently teaching students down South India over the last 4 years and you have bought up a very critical issue for discussion.I personally feel that we need to look at this issue from two angles. Teachers need to be trained continuously and groomed to become better teachers. This would require lot of initiative by the concerned school or college. Teachers should be sponsored to ensure that they participate in programs which will expose them to the latest methodologies and thus ensure value addition, which will get reflected during the teaching process. It will not only add on their qualification and expertise but also build up their loyalty and motivation.The other side is the salary package. The role that a teacher plays in shaping up the life of a student cannot be compensated at all, without the slightest exaggeration. Ultimately when you finish the training process, you make the participant ready to take on any kind of challenge with lot of confidence. Moreover his family is also taken care of automatically. Teachers need to be paid handsomely on par with other professions. Even teachers shoulder lot of domestic responsibilities which needs to be respected.  

Eva Büyüksimkeşyan's picture
Eva Büyüksimkeşyan

Dear colleague,I do agree with you. To be able to motivate our students we must be motivated. For me, teaching English is a great opportunity to improve yourself. Because in no other profession you are expected to be aware of what's going around. You must always update yourself. The world is changing very quickly so we must adapt ourselves to these improvements. We, the language teachers, can see the world from a very wide perspective. If we are not lucky enough to be praised regularly, then we must adapt a new way to motivate ourselves. It's very important. Without motivation success won't come and we will just be ordinary teachers. I truly believe students will whisper ''thank you'' whenever they think about their highly motivated teachers when they grow up.

teacher1390's picture

Dear teacher,There is lots of debate over why students have motivational problems. But little do they talk about teacher motivation which, I believe, is as important as student motivation.  The problem is greater in EFL situations where the administration and the teachers of English are in conflict due to contradictive objectives. The teachers of English have to put up with pressure groups of different sorts: 1. Unmotivated students, who fail to realize the importance of learning English, 2. The administration, which thinks of English as a marginal subject, 3. Parents, who are concerned about their children’s progress, 4. The teachers who, for a variety of reasons, resist change and innovation, 5. The management, which mainly resists change and innovation, and 6, The community, which does not  find many plausible reasons for language learning. Financial problems can be a big problem as well. However, affective factors play a far greater role in boosting teachers’ self esteem.

Susan Lotoa's picture
Susan Lotoa

What keeps a teacher motivated?Passion for teaching, enthusiasm for learning, been student centred, knowing the learner and devising ways to assist them in on their learning journey.  The teacher needs to have that 'spark' that will ignite in the learner the passion for and enthusiasm for learning.  The learner needs to 'feel' that the teacher has respect, empathy and believes in their ability to make gains in their learning.  Getting alongside the learner is a powerful tool.  For a moment, reflect on your own learning experiences as a child at primary or secondary school.  is there a particular teacher that stood out for you?  We will either recall that teacher who gave us a 'bad memory' or we will recall someone who made us feel we were of value, who believed in our ability, who cared, who motivated us, made us feel inspired to learn, who had a passion for teaching and learning.  What qualitites did that teacher demonstrate?  Hopefully, this will be a guideline to your own personal motivation.