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Increasing Teacher Motivation in Schools

Increasing Teacher Motivation in Schools


This assignment presents a school X situated in Russia dealing with the challenge of lack of motivation of teachers. The aim of the paper is to propose methods to increase teachers’ motivation that could be implemented by principal, thus improving quality of teaching.

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The staff of the school is multi-aged, yet greater majority of teachers have worked in the school over 5 years which indicates high level of coordination of the team. However, only few of them are vigorously involved in pedagogical activity such as constant participation of teachers in competitions organized by the school, publication of research articles, participation in competitions of professional skill etc. and all the activities are performed by the same teachers. This assignments analyses the factors influencing teachers’ motivation and suggests practical steps of its advancement. The example of this school may indicate main challenges and constitute a valuable resource for schools in similar situations.

Outline of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The challenge
  3. The context
  4. Analysis of motivational theories
  5. Meeting the challenge
  6. Conclusions
  7. References


Excellent workplace management, realization of long-term plans of the educational institution and effective management strategy are counterproductive if the teachers lack motivation. Since the essence of management is the achievement of results through other people, it is essential for them to want to do what they are required to do. Mescon et al (1988) stated that the efficiency and effectiveness of organizations are directly dependent on the degree of motivation of workers. High employee motivation can compensate many of the shortcomings of other management functions: goal setting, planning, organization, control and others. However, it is almost impossible to compensate for the lack of labor motivation.

Motivation is the internal force that encourages humans to achieve their goals and it is directly connected with an individual’s needs. According to Greenberg (1999, p75) motivation is the process of arousing, directing and maintaining behavior towards particular goals. Both environmental and personal factors have impact on motivation in organizations, and needs, goals, attributions, beliefs, expectations, rewards and incentives all influence motivation anywise.

Motivation is extremely important when it comes to the field of education. According to Bhatia (1977, p124), no real education can take place without motivation, as it brings the teachers and learners to a proper frame of mind for teaching and learning, concentrating their attention and efforts on the tasks or knowledge to be dished out or acquired. Motivation acts as the key factor in education especially in the administration of school staff and the teaching and learning process as it implies the stimulation and sustenance of interest in education, and no education can be possible without the interest of stakeholders – staff and students.

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the challenge of lack of motivation in the school X on the basis of motivational theories and suggest an appropriate leadership response to meet that challenge. The factors influencing motivation shall be analyzed, and the proposed steps to be taken in particular school shall be presented based on author’s personal experience working in the school.



School X is a school situated in the city of Izhevsk in Russia. The school is relatively new comparing to other schools in the region – it was opened in 2005 and only one principal has worked there ever since. The school provides all three stages of general education: primary education lasting for four years; basic general education which lasts for five years and secondary education which is optional for those pupils who wish to enter the university and lasts for two years. The facility also provides paid educational services such as additional courses of visual arts, mathematics, physics, engineering, choreography, mostly led by the same teachers. Due to the amount studying activities it offers, the school has an extended number of teaching staff – 92 teachers including both full time and part time contracts. The school is situated in the area which has earned a reputation for antisocial behavior including robbery, aggressive driving and is regularly in the media.

The staff of the school is multi-aged. All 92 teachers are almost divided into 5 age groups, with the youngest of them being a 22-year-old and the oldest being a 68-year-old.

Age 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-…
Number of teachers 8 (9%) 19 (21%)  30 (32%) 24 (26%) 11 (12%)

As for the length of service, most teachers have worked over 5 years which indicates their high skill.

Length of service < 2 2-5 5-10 10-20 20>
Number of teachers 8 (9%) 23 (25%) 28 (30%) 22 (24%) 11 (12%)

The next table presents ranging of teachers by the level of their education and achievements. Teachers possessing technical and vocational education and training received degree in Vocational school or college. First and upper divisions are qualification category, which are assigned to the teacher by certification commissions formed by federal executive authority after passing the voluntary certification based on criteria such as 2 (first division) or 3 (upper division) years of teaching experience, demonstration of personal contribution to improving the quality of education and many others.

Education, category, awards Number of teachers
Higher education 60 (65%)
Technical and Vocational Education and Training 32 (35%)
First division 45 (49%)
Upper division 27 (29%)
Second higher education 28 (30%)
Teachers with honorary distinction 19 (21%)

These data indicate the stability of the teaching staff, a fairly high level of professionalism and at the same time, the possibility of professional burnout of teachers and aging of the team.




Today the professional development of school teachers can be observed from the position of analysis of their professional activities. At the end of the year, teachers complete diagnostic and self-analysis maps of their activities. Methodical council analyzes the work of each teacher and builds a rating of teachers of the school. It should be noted that main indicators of a healthy professional school environment and the motivation of pedagogical activity is the constant participation of teachers in competitions organized by the school, teaching master classes, conducting demonstration lessons for the parents, active participation and training of teachers for school seminars, pedagogical councils, methodical studies, publication of research articles by teachers, participation in competitions of professional skill at the municipal, regional and national levels. However, not all teachers actively transfer their work experience even at the institutional and municipal level and, as a rule, all the activities mentioned above are performed by the same teachers. The main cause for the issue of low activity is the lack of motivation. According to Jackson (1997, p28), lack of motivation among teachers has been manifested in teacher unwillingness to participate in school activities, lack of additional training, uncreative and non-stimulating teaching, lack of interest in meetings, unhelpful attitudes when assistance is needed, resistance to contributing more than what is required of them. All of these features are noted in the current school, and the principal needs to find factors influencing motivation and enhance them on condition that the financial provision of the school is not changing.



Analysis of motivational theories

There are two approaches to the study of theories of motivation: need-based theories and process-based theories. The first approach is based on the study of the substantive side of the theory of motivation.

The first need-based theory observed is called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Maslow, 1943; Maslow, 1954). It supports the idea that the subject of psychology is human behavior, not human consciousness. The basis of the same behavior are human needs, which can be divided into five groups: physiological needs necessary for human survival (food, in water, in rest, etc), needs for security and confidence in the future, social needs, esteem needs, self-actualization needs. The first two groups of needs are primary, and the next three are secondary. With the development of economic relations and the improvement of management, a significant role in the theory of motivation is assigned to the needs of higher levels. According to McClelland (NetMBA, 2002), the structure of the needs of the highest level is reduced to three factors: need for achievement, need for power, need for affiliation. Frederick Herzberg’s motivation theory emerged in connection with the growing need to find out the influence of material and non-material factors on a person’s motivation (Herzberg, et. al., 1959). Frederick Herzberg created a two-factor model that shows job satisfaction: factors that keep a person at work (hygienic factors) – company policies, working conditions, salary, safety, interpersonal relations with supervisors, colleagues, subordinates; factors motivating to work (motivators) – achievements, recognition, responsibility, opportunities for career growth. Hygienic factors are associated with the work environment, self-expression of the individual and their internal needs. Hygienic factors correspond to the physiological needs, the need for security and confidence in the future. According to Herzberg’s theory, the absence or lack of hygienic factors leads to a person’s dissatisfaction with their work. However, they are not capable of providing an adequate level of motivation by themselves. The second group of motivators is associated with the nature and essence of the work itself.

Thus, need-based theories of motivation are based on the study of needs and the identification of factors determining people’s behaviour.

The second approach to motivation is based on process-based theories. It refers to the distribution of the efforts of the workers and the choice of a certain pattern of behavior to achieve specific goals. According to first process-based theory, expectations theory, a chosen pattern of behavior, as well as needs, is a necessary condition for a person’s motivation (Vroom, 1964). Expectations theory establishes that the behavior of employees is determined by the following factors: behavior of a manager who stimulates an employee’s work and is willing to reward an employee under certain conditions; behavior of an employee who is confident that under certain conditions they will be rewarded and who compares the amount of remuneration with the amount that they need to meet a specific need. According to the theory, the employee must have needs that can be largely satisfied when receiving expected rewards and the manager should give such incentives that can satisfy the expected need of the employee.

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According to equity theory by Adams (1965), individuals are motivated by a sense of fairness in their interactions which is based on social comparisons employees make. Perceptions of inequity create tension and drive to action that will reduce perceived inequity. The theory of motivation by Porter – Lawler is based on a combination of elements of the expectations and equity the theories (Porter & Lawler, 1968). The theory presents the correlation between the reward and the achieved results. Porter and Lawler introduced three variables that affect the extent of remuneration: the effort expended, the person’s personal qualities and abilities and awareness of their role in the labor process. The elements of the theory of expectation here manifest themselves in the fact that the employee evaluates the remuneration in accordance with the effort expended and believes that this reward will be equally correlated to the efforts spent. Elements of the theory of justice are manifested in the fact that people have their own assessment about the fairness or unfairness of remuneration compared with other employees.

The theories observed help to create the model of all the needs necessary to be satisfied in order to build high motivation in the working team. Summarizing the motivational theories, the following needs were recognized as pivotal in building workers’ motivation: physiological, hygienic, safety, social (affiliation), esteem (recognition, achievement) self-actualization, power, responsibility, opportunities for career growth, satisfaction with the result, equity. The first group of needs is physiological needs by Maslow which correspond Herzberg’s hygienic needs. Physiological needs are the basic needs (food, drink etc.) which can mostly be satisfied by the means of financial resource (increased payment will lead to the higher satisfaction of need for food/drink, granting of additional holidays will help to satisfy the need for rest but affects the financial distribution of the school and etc). Since the aim of current work is to provide ways of increasing teachers’ motivation in the school X without interfering into the financial matter, the following needs shall not be observed. (chestnotes). Further research will focus on ways of finding methods of satisfying needs mentioned. However, it should be noted that the current paper does not examine every step to increase motivation by influencing one or the other factor and focuses on measures which have not yet been put in place by the principal, without mentioning actions which are already being taken in order to increase workers’ motivation and needs that are already satisfied according to author’s experience.



Meeting the challenge

Safety need expresses itself in protection from physical or psychological hazards from the outside world and confidence that the physiological needs will be met in the future (Maslow, 1943). Since there are still teachers who have not obtained any division which allows them to get more pay and secure their position in the school, it is essential for the principal to involve themselves more into the process of assistance in teacher’s certification. The principal also needs to strengthen the guarantee of teachers’ protection from encroachment by senior managers, school counsellors, parents.

Self-actualization In A. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is understood as the highest desire of a person. Professional self-determination and self-realization along with professional orientation and socialization act as constituent elements of the structure of professional and personal development of a teacher. [1, 66-68] A teacher seeks to realize their talent and abilities in their work. In order to increase self-actualization of teachers, the principal should consider giving teachers more freedom regarding the matter of organizing lessons as long as it does not affect academic performance of pupils. The following step will help teachers to find their individual way of teaching and express tutoring ambitions. Another key step is to provide assistance in obtaining a grant for the implementation of the teacher’s project of interest as this activity is crucial in self-realization. The principal should also encourage teachers to create their own teacher’s program and provide assistance in its development, approval and distribution.

Esteem needs (recognition, achievements)

Esteem needs refer to the desire to be respected by one’s peers, feeling important, and being appreciated. (Maslow, 1943). Recognition is a very rewarding experience for an excellent classroom teacher and their students. According to Andrews (2011), recognition awards of teachers is one of the four major factors providing quality improvements in classroom teaching and student learning. Achievement-oriented activity is activity undertaken by an individual with the expectation that his performance will be evaluated in terms of some standard of excellence. (Atkinson and Feather, 1966, p. 328). There are studies confirming the importance of recognition and achievements for teachers. Scherer (1983) conducted research finding out the reasons for experienced or veteran teachers of Teachers College at Columbia University having positive feelings about their job. Receiving recognition was one of the four most significant reasons, along with receiving respect, reinforcement and encouragement.

Since only 21% of teaching staff posses any honorary distinctions, the principal should give more recommendations for honorary distinctions which would also contribute in building recognition. The principal should also consider giving teachers more letters of appreciation to make them feel that their work is acknowledged. The other important step which the principal has not yet paid attention to is media recruitment, more specifically, introduction of school newspaper (or a site) which will highlight both teachers’ and pupils’ success and achievements.

Social needs (affiliation)

The need for affiliation implies a desire to belong to a social group and occupy a certain place in it, the desire to establish friendly or partnership relations with colleagues, to observe and enhance the traditions of the team and to follow accepted standards of behaviour (NetMBA, 2002). Baron (1983) suggests that employees have the need to feel that they matter in their work team and that they make a difference. Judging from personal experience, the principal of the school X is highly concerned about interpersonal relationship in the team and in order to maintain positive environment he takes such actions as supporting existing traditions, organizing joint leisure activities, events of interest, congratulation events. However, the principal should consider strengthening the involvement of teachers in the collective analysis of the issues of the organization. Since the organizational issues are discussed on school meeting which take limited time, not all 92 teachers have the opportunity to express their opinion on the matter, which is why it is essential for the principal to organize polls systematically so that everyone could contribute into decision-making.

Equity need

Adams’ Equity Theory calls for a fair balance to be struck between an employee’s inputs (hard work, skill level, acceptance, enthusiasm) and an employee’s outputs (salary, benefits, intangibles such as recognition) (1965). In order to satisfy the teacher’s need of satisfaction of the assessment, principal needs to focus on inputs and outputs of each individual teacher in the school being equal.

A peculiar feature of the school X is the prevalence of the teaching stuff having over 10 years of experience working in the school. The issue observed in the school lies in higher recognition and reward of the staff that have worked in the school longer and have proved themselves many times than recognition of relatively new teachers. It is essential for the principal to reformulate the principles of giving bonus award, paying more attention to the achievements of new teachers and expending more effort into equitable distribution of outputs.

In power and responsibility

Need for power is the desire to have control over others and to be influential (NetMBA, 2002). This desire is inherent in the teaching profession, since it implies the exercise of certain powers in relation to students. However, the need for power for some teachers may also be expressed in the desire to participate in the allocation of the institution’s resources, to influence colleagues and leadership. It is important for the developed need for influence being consistent with the desire to achieve the goals of the organization.

The problem with the school X lies not in the fact teachers’ desire for power is not satisfied, but, on the contrary, in the fact that most teachers are reluctant to take the lead and vast majority of responsibilities (for instance, participation of teachers in competitions, seminars, pedagogical councils and other activities) are taken by a small number of teachers. This is why the principal’s obligation is to inspire teachers more into the pedagogical activity by encouraging even little steps, indicating success of teachers who have just started involving themselves into team work and show inclinations to take the lead.




As can be seen from the above, the current paper provides analysis of the factors influencing motivation and ways to increase teachers’ motivation in the school X based on author’s experience and not mentioning the measures that are already implemented by the principal. It is also worth adding that in increasing teachers’ motivation the principal should appeal to the right stimulus which is a good purpose of teaching. Motivation of “improving the quality of teaching in order to increase ranking of the school” should be avoided, as prime concern of teachers should be nurturing and educating children, providing them with the opportunity to enter university and self-actualize, hereby influencing their future.

List of references

  • Adams, J. S. (1965). Inequity in social exchange. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 2, 267–299). New York: Academic Press.
  • Andrews, H.A. (2011). Board policies for teacher evaluation. Schooldays Magazine. Available at (Last accessed 28 November 2018)
  • Atkinson, J., & Feather, N. (1966). A theory of achievement motivation. New York, NY: Wiley and Sons.
  • Baron, R.A. (1983). Behaviour in organisations. New York: Allyn & Bacon, Inc.
  • Bhatia, K.K. (1997). Educational psychology and techniques of teaching. New Delhi: Kalyani Publishers.
  • Greenberg, J. (1999). Managing behaviour in organizations. (2nd Ed). New Jersey, USA: Prince Hall
  • Herzberg, F., Mausner, B., & Snyderman, B. (1959). The motivation to work. New York: Wiley.
  • Jackson, C. M. (1997). Assisting Marginal Teachers: A Training Model. Principal. 28-29
  • Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370–396.
  • Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper.
  • McClelland’s Theory of Needs (2002) NetMBA Business Knowledge Center. Available at: (Last accessed 27 December 2018)
  • Michael H. Mescon, M. H., Albert, M. and Khedouri, F. (1988) Management. Cambridge: Harper & Row
  • Porter, L. W., & Lawler, E. E. (1968). Managerial attitudes and performance. Homewood: IL: Irwin.
  • Scherer, M. (1983). Merit pay – the great debate. Instructor, 93(3), 22-25.
  • Vroom, V. H. (1964). Work and motivation. New York: Wiley.


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