How to Motivate Teachers to Be More Effective: Part Two

In a non dual teacher the focus was on the most common method of motivation, reinforcement or incentives. This post will focus on methods that are just as effective as incentives, but rely more on environmental factors for teachers and leaders.

Environmental factors or job contexts that affect teacher motivation require more effort from leaders in the district than offering incentives. School district leaders must be willing to step beyond quick fixes and be willing to communicate and listen to what teachers are saying or the data received in climate surveys. Incentives and rewards can increase the quantity of behaviors, but have not been found to increase the quality of performance. Reorganizing teachers’ job context in factors beyond rewards, have been found to increase both quality and quantity of performance for employees.

The Effect of Job Context

Job context or environment is a combination of the following: physical environment of work, the design of tasks that teachers perform, social norms within the district, and the organizational culture. Individual attributes of the teacher and the context in which teachers work combine to influence motivational processes. Below is a path analysis that illustrates correlations between various factors that lead to job satisfaction or the decision to leave a school district.

As you can see, feeling valued, having a good report with school leaders, and strong relationships with colleagues combine to strongly affect a teacher’s sense of belonging. The sense of belonging is shown to have a significant correlation with job satisfaction. Meanwhile, time pressures and discipline problems combine for a strong relationship to emotional exhaustion among teachers, which in turn is strongly correlated to the motivation to leave. Also notice the negative correlations between emotional exhaustion and belonging, emotional exhaustion and job satisfaction, and motivation to leave and job satisfaction. Negative correlations simply indicate as one factor increases the other decreases. For example, as the sense of belonging increases, feeling of emotional exhaustion decreases, or as job satisfaction increases the motivation to leave decreases. What’s interesting here is how some of the factors are seemingly unrelated, but have significant consequences on teacher motivation. The feeling of belonging has little to do with the mental and physical strains of teaching that lead to exhaustion, yet if a teacher feels like they belong within their school district and feel like they are part of the team, they are less likely to feel exhausted, even if job factors are overwhelming.

Expectancy and Self-Efficacy

Expectancy in motivation is exactly what it sounds like. It is a theory that asserts people tend to make rational decisions of whether their effort will lead to outcomes they value or expect; it is a probability assessment. The factor of expectancy combines with a few other factors to help educators decide how much effort they should put forth. If teachers and principals feel helpless in reaching the goals the school district or state has put before them, or if the rewards that are being offered, i.e. pay, bonuses, recognition, or other forms of reinforcement, expectancy levels will be low. If school districts break up large goals to smaller and more achievable goals, if they ensure basic resources for teaching are in place, and promote a community of everyone working together to achieve common goals, the district is more likely to be successful. This environment of support along with valued rewards, such as pay, can combine to encourage educators to persevere in the face of challenging circumstances.

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