What motivates a school staff? I would venture to say this question will probably produce a different answer from each person asked. Teachers who posses internal drive or are self-motivated in most cases enforce the dress code, turn in lesson plans on time, strive to improve instructional practices (including technology integration) or simply do their job without having to be motivated by the leader. Those not self-motivated require extrinsic motivation from leaders to consistently do the things just mentioned. Extrinsic motivations can be in the form of recognition, special privileges, competition, money or fear.
Wikipedia defines motivation as a psychological feature that induces an organism to act towards a desired goal and elicits, controls, and sustains certain goal-directed behaviors. It can be considered a driving force; a psychological one that compels or reinforces an action toward a desired goal. For example, hunger is a motivation that elicits a desire to eat. Motivation is the purpose or psychological cause of an action. So what motivates everyone to work hard, follow directions or do their job? Face it, school leaders are only in classrooms a fraction of time compared to teachers throughout a school year. There has to be a high level of trust between the principal and teachers. Leading a team requiring a variety of motivation strategies is no simple task. When it comes down to it, procedures must be in place to monitor what is expected from all. What makes it more difficult is when members of the team do not understand why they need to be monitored for following expectations. Hopefully teachers might have a better understand after reading this post!
Effective leaders find a balance of positive and negative reinforcers to motivate a TEAM. Sounds like a theory or approach to student discipline doesn’t it? Or to say it a different way, intrinsically motivated teachers simply need support without the leader having to provide “something” for motivation. Others need competition, rewards or a kick in the pants (figuratively speaking of course). One important factor the self-motivated staff member must understand-have patience while the leader is positively motivating those who need it during a staff meeting!
Wikipedia states Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on external pressures or a desire for reward. The old saying, “I had a higher calling to be an educator” comes to mind when thinking of many intrinsically motivated educators. Extrinsic motivation refers to the performance of an activity in order to attain an outcome, whether or not that activity is also intrinsically motivated. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of the individual. Common extrinsic motivations are rewards (for example money or grades) for showing the desired behavior, and the threat of punishment following misbehavior. Competition is in an extrinsic motivator because it encourages the performer to win and to beat others, not simply to enjoy the intrinsic rewards of the activity. A cheering crowd and the desire to win a trophy are also extrinsic incentives.
So, what motivates you? Do you know? I would guess very few of us are completely intrinsically or extrinsically motivated for everything we do but both depending on the task. I believe we all need to reflect and determine what drives us to show up at work and teach kids in order to keep our motivation at a level worthy of an educator. As school leaders, we have to determine what each individual needs and work to provide it. Not an easy task but essential none the less.
If you want to be inspired, view the video through the link below.