25 ways to motivate teachers

25 ways to motivate teachers

By Idris Ahmad

Sometimes little things can make an even bigger difference! Administrators need to serve the worker and work hard at making things less difficult and complicated. They should try to cut down the amount of paperwork, limit the number of staff meetings and streamline procedures.

Administrators must try to show teachers that they care in many ways. They should have an open-door policy, once in a while the teachers should see administrators picking up trash and cleaning cafeteria tables, arrive before they do and still in school when they leave, and administrators do not have designated parking or other perks sometimes associated with management.

Administrators always have to put aside their own issues and do what is best for students and staff in a caring and sensitive way. They must try not to say no to teachers and should always treat them as adults.

The principal and the rest of his administrative team must try to do lots of special things for the entire staff, from special little gifts to Staff Family Day. The administrators must treat everyone as a professional and celebrate whenever they can. The motto of a good principal should be: My job as a principal is to make the teacher’s job easier, better, so they can teach and students can learn.

Remember, developing a positive school climate is critical to an effective school. Morale is a very tentative issue. You can do 99 things right and make one mistake that will shoot morale forever.


All teachers yearn for reassurance that they are doing a good job. Most principals recognize teachers’ efforts by offering positive feedback, both publicly and privately. Weekly memos or e-mails, and regular staff meetings, are the perfect forums for recognizing special contributions that teachers or other staff members make.

Such recognitions should be included in staff memos and during a special celebration portion of each month’s faculty meeting. Also, make a special point of spotlighting efforts teachers make to develop projects that involve students across grade levels or with other schools. Those special recognitions will encourage others to consider projects that extend learning outside the walls of individual classrooms.

With all teachers have to do, motivation is the key to keeping them focused and feeling worthy. Try this; at each month’s staff meeting; award two teachers with the “Golden Pen Award” for their above-and-beyond efforts. The neat thing about the award is that the teachers select its reciepients! Each of the winners of this month’s Golden Pen Award are responsible for passing on the award to another worthy teacher at next month’s meeting.

Many principals try to leave a little extra money in the budget to recognize outstanding efforts with small personal gifts such as prepaid phone cards or store gift certificates. I was told recently, one principal gave a phone card to a teacher who stepped in without being asked, and took over an after-school programme for a teacher who was stuck in a dentist’s chair having a tooth pulled.


1.    Plan noon-hour lunches for all staff members several times a year. (Don’t leave out the paraprofessionals, the school secretaries, or the custodians!) Those lunches can be ‘roving lunches’ in which people eat during their regularly scheduled lunch period or they can be whole-staff lunches that kick off professional development sessions.

2.    Organize small fundraising activities to raise money for an all-staff holiday or end-of-year banquet. For example, several times during the year, staff might be allowed to pay RM2 to dress casually for the day.

3.    Contact local restaurant, sports franchises, movie theatres, gift shops and other businesses to arrange for gifts, gift certificates, tickets or discount coupons that can be used as special prizes for teachers who volunteer their time or who go above and beyond.

4.    Encourage teachers to seek out professional development courses or workshops. Approve all reasonable requests. Set aside time during each staff meeting, or arrange a special professional development day, so teachers can share with their peers the main ideas they leraned from from each session they attended.

5.    Encourage teachers to ask for the instructional supplies they require to facilitate teaching and learning. Provide reasonable requests from the budget, or enlist local politicians or businesspeople tosponsor or help you track down other needed supplies.

6.    Include on each weekly staff memo a quick activity idea that might be tried out in the classroom, q quote related to education, or a short school-related joke.

7.    Send cards to teachers to welcome them back after an illness, celebrate a birthday or another important event, or recognize a special achievement. Add a copy of those “special achievement” cards to teachers’ personnel files.

8.    Once a semester, or once a quarter, provide all staff members with a come-late-to-work-no-questions-asked form. (Or give that form to staff members who logged one or no absences in the most recent quarter.) That form represents two hours of time that can be taken at the start or end of the school day for any reason, from sleeping in to getting a head start on the weekend. The only catch is that the form must be “cashed in” in advance so arrangements can be made to free an administrator or somebody else tocover the staff member’s responsibilities. Little things like this cost no money and demonstrate that administrators are willing togothe extra mile for the folks who work for them.

9.    Provide free coffee in the teacher’s lounge from 7.30 a.m to 2.30 p.m every day.

10.    Select a “Teacher of The Month.” Set aside a special parking space that is marked with a “Reserved for the Teacher of The Month” sign.

11.    To motivate professional development, arrange study groups to read a book or discuss and research a current hot topic.

12.    Set up a schedule to ensure that every educator makes at least two visits to other teachers’ classrooms or other schools during the year. Arrange coverage for those teachers. You might set up a special arrangement with other schools toopen their classrooms to your teachers.

13.    Feed the teachers! Celebrate the end of a busy week by arranging to have the cafeteria staff prepare a special breakfast, beverages and muffins,rolls, or cofee cake every Monday morning. (Even once a month would be nice!)

14.    Appoint a teacher to be “acting principal” when you are out of the building. (This usually convinces them that they love being a teacher!)

15.    Make sure that everyone is on a committee that meets regularly and that they have real tasks and opportunities for real input in school-level decision making.

16.    Arrange to have music played (or piped in) during staff meetings. Music stimulates the brain.

17.    Be sure topublicly commend staff members who go above and beyond outside of the school by voluntering to be part of district-wide or state-level committees, for example.

18.    Organize a social committee to plan events just for fun. One such even might be a monthly “Treat-Your-Friends Tuesday.” Each month a different groupof teachers brings themed food items to share during the day in the teacher’s lounge.

19.    During Teacher Appreciation Week hold a daily drawing for a “1/2-day off” certificate. The principal will cover the class when the teacher takes that time off.

20.    Make a spot on your weekly memo for a special thank-you or congratulations toindividuals or the entire team. For example: Thank you for organizing English Week! Thanks for the extra effort on parent teacher conferences! Thank you to the school magazine team, thanks for coming on Saturday for the cross country, and so on…..

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5 thoughts on “25 ways to motivate teachers

  1. Since motivation is an essential element of the function of direction. I hope it is pertient for headmasters, principals, head of departments and vice chancellor to motivate their staff to improve performance

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