Motivation and Staff Development

Dr Mark Dowley September 27th, 2019 · 3min

Motivation is the key trigger for activated behaviour, that is, to help our colleagues to act we must first motivate them. There are many theories of motivation: Expectancy- value Theory (Eccles and Wigfield), Social-cognitive Theory (Bandura), Goal orientation Theory (Dweck) and Self-determination Theory (Deci & Ryan). Daniel Pink also describes his theory on intrinsic motivation in his book ‘Drive’.

The two theories we will focus on today are Daniel Pink’s theory and Self-Determination Theory because in my opinion they are the most relevant to teacher professional development. These theories suggest that motivation is a product of key factors — if colleagues are not interested in our professional learning program it may be because one of these factors of motivation are not being met.

In Pink’s work, motivation is a product of Autonomy, Purpose and Mastery, whereas Deci & Ryan’s Self —Determination Theory suggests that motivation is a product of Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness.

We can merge the two theories to create four factors that impact motivation:

  1. Autonomy,
  2. Mastery and Competence,
  3. Purpose and,
  4. Relatedness.

These factors can be used as a lens to critique a professional development or coaching program.

  1. Autonomy is the ability to choose how to direct our own lives.

A professional development program must allow for choice and autonomy. This can be done by allowing colleagues to choose the development areas they work on (within reason). For example, the coaching program could be optional and be made flexible regarding time, frequency and duration of coaching meetings. You will have noticed this is closely related to Jim Knight’s partnership principle of choice.

2. Mastery and Competency is the desire to continually improve at something that matters.

Are your colleagues clear on what is mastery in teaching? Some teachers are unsure of the next steps in becoming an expert, or may already consider themselves competent. Having a map (or competency framework) to indicate the skills and behaviours of an expert teacher is beneficial.

For example Stephen Dinham (2017) argues that expert teachers do the following things:

  1. A relentless focus on teaching and learning.
  2. Use pedagogic terminology, models & theory.
  3. Have exceptional pedagogic content knowledge.
  4. A recognition that they need to improve, this requires change and effort.

Providing a model of evidence informed practice (e.g. Playbook) can help teachers use pedagogic terminology and add high impact strategies to their teaching repertoire.

3. Purpose is the desire to be part of something larger than ourselves.

Colleagues need to be reminded of the greater purpose of teaching, including changing lives and improving society. This can be done by sharing reflections from past students, letters of gratitude from parents, linking our teaching with the global issue of providing education for all children across the world. (I recently watched ‘He named me Malala — highly recommended).

4. Relatedness is a sense of belonging to or affiliation with others to whom they would like to be connected.

This includes taking the time to build connections between staff. It can be done through morning teas, staff functions, things based on team goals or training staff in the better conversation habits. As part of our PL program we have whole staff workshops that combine better conversation training for all staff with Arthur Aron’s questions to help our colleagues get to know each other — teachers are such interesting people and it’s worth hearing their stories.

Overall, if we are trying to motivate our colleagues, having a model of motivation will help guide our decision making process.

Happy Coaching.

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