Drivers to increasing teacher motivation and reducing stress

Drivers to increasing teacher motivation and reducing stress

Motivation guru and best-selling author Daniel Pink suggests three ways to increase motivation in schools. 

Pink advocates that schools and teachers should be more focused on engagement through self-direction. Pink advocates autonomy, mastery and purpose as key drivers for increasing motivation and reducing stress. 

He argues that today’s management approaches in schools tend to be designed around compliance. 

Whilst no one likes to be micro-managed or dictated to, leading educator Steve Francis says there is a fine line in implementing Pink’s approach and providing complete autonomy to teachers. 

Francis argues that one of the key roles of the leadership team is to ensure consistency of agreed good practices across the school. He argues that all students in a school deserve a good deal, no matter which class they are in or which teacher they have. 

Francis states: “Consistency is best achieved through agreeing what good practice looks like and then implementing those approaches through high functioning teams. There are therefore limits on ‘autonomy’. It can’t be ‘do whatever you want to do in your classroom’.”

Pink’s second driver, mastery, certainly resonates with educators. Francis argues the vast majority of teachers want to be the best teacher they can be. Most teachers are committed to continuous improvement and are constantly looking to refine their practice. 

The third of Daniel Pink’s drivers is Purpose. 

Educators know that the work they do is important. Further motivation for teachers should come through emphasising the purpose and significance of the important work we do in schools. Teachers have a ‘why’ (or purpose) bigger and more important than anyone in the country.

For almost all members of society, their children are the most important things in the world; more important to them than their car or their house. 

However, this presents a double-edged sword. Whilst it is a tremendous responsibility it is also a significant investment of trust. 

Parents entrust staff in schools with both the welfare of their children as well as preparing their children for the future. It is essential that educational leaders continue to emphasise the big picture for all staff working in schools.

Through his Happy School program, Steve Francis provides weekly articles to member schools. The single page articles are designed to boost staff morale and reduce stress through small doses of professional learning.

The popular Happy School program has been extended to include WELL Productivity, a 10 month program supporting staff in schools to improve their well-being as well as their productivity. 

According to Francis, “Schools are crazy busy. Time is a scarce resource. The program is helping staff better manage both their well-being and their use of time.”