What motivates teachers? – An #ELTchat summary (21st October, 2015)

A PLN for ELT Professionals

What motivates teachers? – An #ELTchat summary (21st October, 2015)

This summary was kindly contributed by @MattEllman.


What motivates teachers?

A wide-ranging topic, but this ELTchat turned out to be quite fruitful! The answer? collaboration, whether it’s online, in school, or with teachers from the wider education sector.


Initial responses included “The wish to do a better job” (@SueAnnan), “A growth mindset and a love of learning” (@jascjasc), “constant challenges” (@GlenysHanson, @ShaunWilden) and “the language learning process” (@MattEllman). We then moved on to discuss whether these motivations were the difference between teachers who work while backpacking and those who stay in the profession and make a career of it, but @ShaunWilden made the point that many of those who start out backpacking end up becoming career teachers. One of those turned out to be @Marisa_C!

SueAnnan 2015-10-21T11:13:31 Could t be the difference between career teachers and the backpacker brigade? #Eltchat
Shaunwilden 2015-10-21T11:14:48 @SueAnnan though many of the later turn into the former #ELTchat
angelos_bollas 2015-10-21T11:18:13 @SueAnnan They start T as a hobby/excuse for travel but then they end up liking it, no? #ELTchat @Shaunwilden
Marisa_C 2015-10-21T11:22:05 @GlenysHanson @SueAnnan some of us ‘fell into teaching’ – was to be that halfway house job yea? and here we are #ELTchat

Continuing professional development


The importance of always learning was a recurring theme:

SueAnnan 2015-10-21T11:05:19 I think motivated teachers continue to learn for themselves #eltchat
theteacherjames 2015-10-21T11:18:43 @MattEllman Agreed. I never feel like I’ve mastered it, there are always things I could do better. #Eltchat
SueAnnan 2015-10-21T11:26:31 I love the constant discoveries from both my students and my peers #ELTchat
WordPerfectEng 2015-10-21T11:34:28 Motivated teachers are looking for new ways and materials to make learning more effective and relevant for students. Its a process. #ELTchat


And in particular, learning from teachers outside ELT:

Marisa_C 2015-10-21T11:30:46 I was surprised at how much I could get from watching non ELT Ts workshops #eltchat e..g. from science maths Ts
MattEllman 2015-10-21T11:31:38 @Marisa_C Absolutely – sometimes it’s the feeling that we’re in a TEFL bubble that is demotivating, I think… #ELTchat
Shaunwilden 2015-10-21T11:32:01 @Marisa_C And what sort of stuff do you take away from them? #ELTchat
Marisa_C 2015-10-21T11:29:29 Yes to going beyond our comfort zone – last week went to a general ed conference & learnt so much! ELT needs these links #eltchat #pracped15
ambartosik 2015-10-21T11:32:22 @Marisa_C This is v true. I also find K-12 educators motivating – what they do with children in classrooms is amazing #ELTchat
Marisa_C 2015-10-21T11:33:13 Have always thought so -ELT has foolishly cut off the umbilical cord connecting it w/ gen education studies #ELTchat https://t.co/B5QWbuEiTL
Marisa_C 2015-10-21T11:36:16 @Shaunwilden hmm – first of all their use of tech is streets ahead of any ELT outfit i have seen #ELTchat @ambartosik agrees  i think
MattEllman 2015-10-21T11:36:30 @Marisa_C Yes – I’m sure the lack of new research/methodology we’re missing out on is another factor in demotivated teachers #ELTchat
Marisa_C 2015-10-21T11:38:28 @Shaunwilden then they are more focused on principles – the big picture – than the nitty gritty of this or that activ or tool #eltchat


So not surprisingly, the absence of CPD was mentioned as a demotivating factor:

SueAnnan 2015-10-21T11:31:47 I have colleagues who switch off the minute they finish teaching. How can we help motivate them? #ELTchat
marcuspopus 2015-10-21T11:34:21 .@SueAnnan You can lead a horse to water… perhaps they’re happy standing still? #ELTchat
SueAnnan 2015-10-21T11:35:23 @marcuspopus I suspect they must be, but they aren’t growing #ELTchat
GlenysHanson 2015-10-21T11:36:31 @marcuspopus @SueAnnan Lol! If you’re standing still, it’s like being dead, isn’t it? #ELTchat
GlenysHanson 2015-10-21T11:38:22 If teachers are not interested in learning, can they be effective teachers? #ELTchat
racheldaw18 2015-10-21T11:42:35 Here it’s also hard to be motivated for some as we are poorly paid freelancers, so teachers need to LIKE teaching  #ELTchat
MattEllman 2015-10-21T11:46:40 @racheldaw18 This is definitely a problem with the industry as a whole – it’s hard to be motivated if you can’t pay the bills! #ELTchat
racheldaw18 2015-10-21T11:47:07 Yeah and of course also the unpaid planning time – that’s often why some teachers ‘teach then go home’  #ELTchat
Marisa_C 2015-10-21T11:47:31 Most Ts I know in countries where salaries low have to work non-stop hours to make ends meet #ELTchat  https://t.co/BrdtntHwBB


EdTech and Twitter


EdTech, including Twitter, came up as a motivating factor for some teachers:

ambartosik 2015-10-21T11:21:33 I find edtech to be v motivating. Excites me to see if we can do things differently/better in the classroom #eltchat
Marisa_C 2015-10-21T11:24:05 Agree – edtech revitalised my training/teaching esp connecting with colleagues like here and building a PLN #eltchat https://t.co/8L9m7IlLFL
ambartosik 2015-10-21T11:26:03 @Marisa_C I was getting disillusioned before incorporating tech and before joining Twitter. Different, now #ELTchat
Marisa_C 2015-10-21T11:26:04 I find the act of curating for sharing is a great motivator as well as great CPD #ELTchat  https://t.co/2SySV61S96
racheldaw18 2015-10-21T11:27:37 I agree with @Marisa_C – constant feedback w/ global ‘colleagues’ on ELT topics is v. motivating that you’re doing the right thing! #ELTchat


For others, the collaborative side of Twitter was a motivating factor:

jascjasc 2015-10-21T11:18:48 #eltchat Twitter collaboration is a great motivator – sharing with like minded people
GlenysHanson 2015-10-21T11:24:59 I retired 5 years ago & I’m here… I find helping people learn intrinsically motivating. #ELTchat
Marisa_C 2015-10-21T11:57:30 A great global staffroom for those who can’t have it around them just happening now 🙂 #ELTchat


Being observed


Observations were mentioned as a way of keeping things fresh:

racheldaw18 2015-10-21T11:25:31 I recommend being observed by CELTA trainees – this happened to me today for 1st time (only 6 months teaching) & was v. motivating! #ELTchat
MattEllman 2015-10-21T11:26:55 @racheldaw18 Nothing like an observation to keep you on your toes! 🙂 #ELTchat
racheldaw18 2015-10-21T11:27:56 Haha @MattEllman that’s very true! Only found out yesterday, so had to sharpen up my game! They asked such good Qs though 🙂 #ELTchat
MattEllman 2015-10-21T11:29:21 @racheldaw18 If you can chat with them about the lesson afterwards, it’s brilliant. New teacher enthusiasm is a great motivator! #ELTchat
marcuspopus 2015-10-21T11:31:15 & knowing that you’ll NEVER have all the answers, only more questions! Endless discovery #ELTchat
GlenysHanson 2015-10-21T11:33:16 My favourite students were other teachers – very, very challenging! #ELTchat




And finally, the importance of a supportive work environment wasn’t forgotten:

Marisa_C 2015-10-21T11:54:24 We should mention the positive effect of a creative and supportive school climate #eltchat this motivates many Ts more than pay
Marisa_C 2015-10-21T11:55:11 Great school leadership is a major factor in keeping Ts motivated #eltchat – unfortunately inspired leaders do not grow on trees
racheldaw18 2015-10-21T11:55:29 Definitely – I work in a wonderfully nurturing school, full of other Ts with great ideas to motivate us 🙂  #ELTchat
Marisa_C 2015-10-21T11:56:18 @racheldaw18 A great staff room yes!!! #eltchat – remember that inspiration as a novice teacher!


Everyone was able to agree on one thing: chatting about motivation had been very motivating!

melody_philip 2015-10-21T11:57:40 this chat is motivating me! #ELTchat
Marisa_C 2015-10-21T11:58:29 See? what I said! It’s also my weekly injection of motivation and energy! #ELTchat  https://t.co/AeWeUc42tI