Building Teacher Confidence and Intrinsic Motivation

  • On 2013-06-25
  • motivation, self-esteem, teacher confidence

Discovering the WHY

I am constantly inspired by the greatness of teachers and why they became teachers in the first place. In the process I go through when mentoring and coaching teachers I normally begin with finding out why they became teachers. For some they had family who were teachers and it seemed normal to do that. For others they played teacher with their friends as children – setting up their garages or rooms as a classroom and ‘teaching’ other kids in their neighbourhood. Others went off and had other careers but weren’t feeling fulfilled and wanted to contribute to the lives of young people.

Invariably I would discover that underneath all of this was the experience one or more teachers brought to the lives of these people at some point in their schooling career. That teacher who sat down with them when they were stuck and frustrated and who worked with them until they learnt the strategy and thinking necessary to no longer be stuck. The teacher, who by her generosity of spirit and caring, empowered them to feel confident enough to peer teach. Surprisingly enough, there were also ‘not so good’ experiences and the individual became a teacher because they didn’t want other students to have a teacher like that one!

Articulating the Vision

In the process of the sharing we would eventually be able to articulate what the teacher’s vision is and the WHY they are a teacher.  For example;

  • Developing people to be independent learners so that every person has the right to achieve and succeed
  • Leaving every child appreciated, knowing how great they are, and where to go next.

Rita Pierson in her recent TED Education talk articulated her Vision and stand beautifully: Every child needs a champion – Rita Pierson, TED Talk 2013

Expressing the vision is very powerful as it would has the teacher become clear about why they do what they do and why they have been passionate about certain aspects of education. Reconnecting teachers with why they are a teacher is the first step to reigniting their passion and reconnecting them to the intrinsic motivation that drove them to be teachers. Sometimes this passion and motivation gets lost in the ‘doing’ of being a teacher.

Developing Purposeful Action

The next part of the process is to support the teachers in developing projects within their role to fulfil that vision and this becomes part of their professional learning plan. As Daniel Pink tells us in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us if we can support individuals in having Autonomy, develop Mastery, and have a Purpose then they become intrinsically motivated to do their best and love what they do.

What we have discovered in the process of creating this is that not only does teacher self-confidence rise, but they begin to work better as a learning community because their communication improves.

If you want to read a bit more, check out …

How do Principals Really Improve Schools 

No One Likes to Be Changed – Daniel Markovitz – Harvard Business Review 

Patterson & Rolheiser – Creating a Culture of Change 

Secret Ingredient for Success – NYTimes



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