Teacher Self-Efficacy: Confidence is Key in the Classroom

By Rachael Debnam-O’Dea

Educators know that enthusiasm spreads like wildfire in the classroom.  What teacher hasn’t had the exhilarating experience of watching one student’s spark of excitement set a whole class crackling with interest in an activity?  We know intuitively that student motivation matters.  In pursuit of building that for our students, we often overlook ourselves when thinking about how to ignite that magic in the classroom, but teacher motivation is key to classroom success.

Supportive work environments, manageable workloads, and community engagement all play a role in teachers’ desire to come to work and bring their A-game every day.  In addition to those factors, teachers’ sense of self-efficacy, which is the feeling of being capable of accomplishing the goals in front of you, is absolutely key to motivation, and teacher motivation is leads to benefits for students and educators.  A recent article in the Review of Educational Research confirms this.  

The authors of the article, Zee and Koomen, examined over 40 years of research into teacher self-efficacy.  Analyzing 165 research studies, they found that high teacher self-efficacy (TSE) is linked to a greater sense of job satisfaction and personal accomplishment.  Unsurprisingly, their results also showed that these effects of high TSE lead to lower teacher burnout.  But high TSE isn’t only good for the adults in the classroom—students also benefit from teachers who feel capable in their work.  Teachers who have high rates of self-efficacy tend to engage in student-centered teaching practices and have better relationships with students.  Moreover, high TSE is linked to greater student motivation and greater student academic success.  

With all these benefits of teacher self-efficacy in mind, what skills would you like to develop as an educator to improve your sense of self-efficacy?  Is there any area of your work you find particularly challenging?  What kind of support would be most helpful to you in those situations?  Are there any resources you’ve found helpful?  Take advantage of the comments section—hopefully we can help each other problem-solve and build a greater sense of self-efficacy in the classroom!

How to measure teacher motivation

By Xuedan Hu

Jan 18, 2017

If we know teacher motivation is important, how can we further understand the challenges and factors that influence it? How do we know whether salary or working environment matter most to teachers? How can we compare the motivation levels between teachers in Uganda and teachers in Indonesia? If you are interested in exploring the answers to these questions, you may find the following studies helpful.

The Work Tasks Motivation Scale for Teachers (WTMST)

The WTMST is designed to assess five motivational constructs(intrinsic motivation, identified, introjected, external regulations, amotivation) toward six work tasks (e.g. class preparation, teaching, evaluation of students, class management, administrative tasks, and complementary tasks). Complementary tasks include tutoring, involvement in extracurricular activities, and other activities outside the classroom. This study tests the validation of WTMST by conducting a pilot and full research study with 600 elementary and high school teachers.

Teacher Motivation Assessment Scale (TMAS)

This study develops and validates an instrument entitled the “Teacher Motivation Assessment Scale”. Similar to WTMST, the TMAS also assesses five motivational constructs: attitude, reward,commitment, punishment and interest. This study shows that TMAS is a stable instrument and does not discriminate across school location and job experience.

Teacher Motivation Theoretical Framework

This report summarizes the results of teacher motivation research through a literature review, survey, and interviews with education experts and practitioners. It presents a framework of analysis that can be used to diagnose threats to teacher motivation. This framework includes eight interconnected categories that influence teacher motivation: 1) workload and challenges, 2) remuneration and incentives, 3) accountability, 4) career development, 5) institutional environment, 6) voice, and 7) learning materials and facilities.

Teacher Motivation Diagnostic Tool (TMDT)

The Teacher Motivation Diagnostic Tool has been developed by the Teacher Motivation Working Group with support from Save the Children and World Vision. The tool is designed to capture a variety of factors hypothesized to influence and interact with teacher motivation and performance. It attempts to measure internal and external supports and challenges faced by teachers through five components: Self-Defined Motivation and Challenges, Self-Efficacy, Beliefs, Support, and Professional Development Needs. The TMDT has already been piloted in five countries and will soon be publicly available on our website.

These are only a limited number of studies that attempt to measure teacher motivation. Please share any other tools or measurement systems you might use in your work. The TMWG has been building a bibliographic database of key teacher motivation studies, and we are continually looking for more research about how to effectively measure teacher motivation. This database will also be available to the public soon on our website.

Participate in the Online Discussion on Teacher Motivation

The 9th Policy Dialogue Forum of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 is scheduled from 5 to 7 December 2016 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. In preparing for the forum, there will be an online discussion around this year’s theme « Motivating Teachers: What do we know and what do we need to achieve the Education 2030 Agenda? ».

Four sub-themes will be addressed during the forum:

  • Sub-theme 1: Motivation and teacher education
  • Sub-theme 2: Teachers’ motivation and their working conditions
  • Sub-theme 3: School governance and teacher motivation
  • Sub-theme 4: Profiles of teachers and learners and teacher motivation

Teacher Motivation Working Group will also be presenting at the forum. We invite you to participate in the online discussion by subscribing to the following website: http://www.teachersforefa.unesco.org/wtd/. You will find further information about the forum, the theme, and sub-themes on the website.

We hope that this online discussion will be both stimulating and enriching!

ICT Integration in Teacher Professional Development

By Xuedan Hu

Nov 2, 2016

Teacher professional development (TPD) is a necessary element to achieve educational change, especially when striving for the more effective application of technology to enhance student learning. A study developed from the discussions of the working group on TPD (TWG3) at EDUsummIT 2015 uses four case studies to address the challenges of providing TPD for ICT Integration in Education.

Among the numerous challenges of TPD for ICT in education, the working group emphasizes five major ones:

  1. Contextualization with sociocultural awareness: There are many variations and levels of access to technology, which can be influenced by specific school cultures.
  2. Sustainability and scalability of professional development: Barriers include social and cultural factors, lack of teachers’ knowledge, inadequate infrastructure, linguistic differences, and geographical separation.
  3. Empowering pedagogy through ICT: Effective application of ICT in TPD is expected to bring changes to the education system as a whole.
  4. Technology discernment: Educational decision-makers have to make wise choices about the deployment of ICT and about the content of TPD to support applications of ICT in the classroom.
  5. Systemic and systematic TPD: It normally takes a long period of time with constant reiterations to see substantial change in technology integration.

The case study showing how social networking is used for self-generating TPD in Australian schools, for example, mainly responds to the challenge of sustainability and scalability. This example addresses the issues of geographical equity for teachers who are separated by long distances across Australia. This TPD program enables teachers from any location in Australia to have an opportunity to form and contribute to a networked learning community. Teachers are involved in an “Action Learning Project” to develop a plan for implementing a new technology into their classrooms with the help of a mentor and the community of teachers. Although no face-to-face contact occurred, teachers were able to work collaboratively regardless of time and space.

Interested in learning more about how to integrate ICT into TPD programs? Check out the paper to read three case studies about technology integration in Kenyan schools, TPD through teacher initiatives in Israeli schools, and Sri Lankan pre-service internships. These cases provide a better understanding of how professional development programs can facilitate teachers’ use of ICT in education. While reading, think about other examples of integrating ICT through teacher professional development that you have experienced. Do teachers prefer online communication over face-to-face interactions? In what situations is it effective, and in what situations less effective? Can you identify additional challenges to integrate ICT in TPD, especially in low-income countries with limited access to technology and Internet?

Webinar: Exploring New Pathways to Teacher Professional Learning in India

Presenters: Anju Saigal & Uma Kogekar

Date: October 7, 2016

Organization: Centre for Equity and Quality in Universal Education

Exploring New Pathways to Teacher Professional Learning in India

View webinar recording HERE


Professional learning support for in-service teachers in India has been ineffective in building teacher skills for three important reasons:

  1. It is irrelevant to teacher needs. Offered as one-size-fits-all modules, professional learning is not responsive to teachers’ needs.
  2. It fails to reach the last teacher. Delivered in a hierarchical cascade mode, the content is highly diluted by the time it reaches the last teacher.
  3. It is unavailable on demand. Offered at most once a year, there are scarce avenues for professional support for teachers as and when they need it.

In an effort to make professional learning more relevant, demand-driven and personalized to teacher needs, our initiative, Teacher Pages, leverages on the best teachers to build a peer-learning professional learning resource and community. We work with great teachers who have developed innovative lesson ideas, coach them to refine and make these ideas effective and professionally film their lesson ideas real-time in their classrooms. The videos are edited to create high-quality films of 5-10 minutes’ duration, which are added to our repository and disseminated through our Youtube channel and Facebook.

This presentation features the Teacher Pages initiative, our learning through the three-year journey and how we envision its future pathway for teacher professional learning.

Webinar: A Study of Teacher Motivation in West Sumba, Indonesia

Presenters: ChangHa Lee

Date: September 22, 2016

Organization: Save the Children

A Study of Teacher Motivation in West Sumba, Indonesia

View webinar recording HERE

Abstract: This research sheds light on the issue of teacher quality and bases on the belief that higher motivation in teaching brings about better performance of teachers, which would further determine students’ positive learning outcomes. It examines the results of the fifth pilot testing of a Teacher Motivation Diagnostic Tool (TMDT) 2.1, designed to capture a variety of factors hypothesized to influence and interact with teacher motivation and performance in West Sumba, Indonesia. The information gathered from the study is meant to inform the contextualization of the Literacy Boost (LB) program to local school and classroom dynamics, especially the teacher training component of the program.

Seeking applicants for volunteer internship with TMWG and Save the Children US!

Teacher Motivation Working Group

Fall 2016 Volunteer Internship: Terms of Reference


Save the Children and colleagues from various development and humanitarian organizations (UNESCO Task Force for Teachers, EDC, IRC, Teachers College, Columbia University) co-
lead the Teacher Motivation Working Group (www.teachermotivation.org) to consolidate and disseminate existing knowledge on teacher motivation in low-income contexts as well as raise the voice of teachers from these contexts. The TMWG aims to advance the evidence on our understanding of the dynamics of teacher motivation in order to better support teachers and work with them as partners to attain student learning outcome goals. This internship will support the Teacher Motivation Working Group by helping collect and disseminate interesting work related to teacher motivation through the working group’s website and social media and contribute to the TMWG’s strategic development and expansion.


  1. Support Co-Chairs in overseeing implementation and reporting of strategic plan
  2. Research grants and related funding opportunities for which the TMWG may be eligible, which can be used for hosting events and conferences, etc.
  3. Support the development of a CIES workshop proposal and subsequent workshop content, overseeing timeline for members to submit all deliverables in preparation for the conference.
  4. Review existing literature reviews and resources from the Teacher Motivation Working Group
  5. Regularly gather articles, papers, and other work related to teacher motivation to share on the Teacher Motivation Working Group’s website and social media.
  6. Summarize literature and empirical findings via policy briefs and other formats to better reach external audiences
  7. Stimulate and facilitate discussion of shared content on the website and social media
  8. Organize bi-monthly blog posts with working group members and guest bloggers (create and manage content schedule, edit, publish and promote posts)
  9. Assist the working group with outreach to other organizations working on teacher motivation or related topics.
  10. Support the working group in identifying webinar speakers, organizing webinar calendar, and promoting webinar live events and recordings.
  11. Support Co-Chairs in identifying individuals and organizations to potentially invite as core working group members.
  12. Support Co-Chairs in developing roster of consultants and experts working on teacher motivation issues
  13. As necessary, assist the Secretary with maintaining the working group’s listserv, taking notes during Steering Committee Meetings, managing Google Drive document filing system, etc.
  14. Create a calendar of teacher motivation and teacher-related events, webinars, conferences, etc. to be shared with our listserv.
  15. Participate in monthly Steering Committee meetings.

Expected Deliverables

  1. Weekly posts to the Teacher Motivation Working Group website/social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  2. Regularly facilitated discussions on website/social media
  3. Calendar (6-12 months) of scheduled webinars (in collaboration with Webinar Coordinator)
  4. Draft invitation email and letter for new Steering Committee members
  5. Bi-monthly blog posts published in collaboration with all working group members and guest bloggers
  6. Consultant roster of teacher motivation experts
  7. Advocacy brief (1-2 pages) overviewing literature and empirical findings to be shared with external audiences


  • Advanced degree student or holder in International Education, or related field, preference for those already familiar with research related to teacher motivation
  • Strong interest in understanding dynamics of teacher motivation and well-being
  • Excellent communication and writing skills
  • Preferred prior experience as a K-12 teacher or working with K-12 teachers in low-income contexts (domestically or abroad)
  • Ability to work independently
  • Prior experience in a developing country preferred
  • Coursework and/or experience with qualitative or quantitative instrument creation and data collection preferred


    Please send resume and cover letter to jguajardo@savechildren.org and tmotivationwg@gmail.com. Start/end dates are flexible, but would involve at least three months, likely during the fall semester. Internship can be conducted remotely. Save the Children does NOT provide housing

How much influence does teacher motivation have?

By Yein Suh

July 13, 2016

To what extent has teacher motivation been influential to students? A working paper from National Center for Research on Rural Education gives us an intriguing idea about the influence, or impact, of teacher motivation for students’ behavioral outcomes. The question they attempted to answer was whether teacher motivation could moderate the effectiveness of Conjoint Behavioral Consultation (CBC) for improving student behavior, and what they found was ‘YES.’

More specifically, their results indicated that among students who received CBC, students whose teachers had higher levels of motivation showed lower levels of conduct problems than students whose teachers had lower levels of motivation. Additionally, students whose teachers reported higher levels of motivation showed greater improvement in their behaviors over time.

Yet, how did teacher motivation to participate in intervention actually affect students’ behavioral outcomes? Perhaps teachers who were willing to make changes were better at dealing with their students. Or those teachers may have showed students that they cared about, respected, and trusted them, which helped students improve their behaviors. Either way, the answer is simple: whether teachers are motivated or not matters a lot.

Now think about teachers you have met during your school days. Were there any teachers who showed, or didn’t show, motivation, willingness, or aspiration? How do you recall your experience with them? How much influence do you think their motivation had on your life as a student?

Irene Mtekateka, Malawi

Voices of Teachers

Irene Mtekateka, Malawi

July 2016

Name: Irene Mtekateka

Sex: Female

Grade: Form 1 (Grade 9), Form 3 (Grade 11), Grade 2 and Grade 3

Subject(s) taught: History, Social and Development Studies, Mathematics, English

Type of school: Government School and International School

Years of teaching experience: 3 years



Why did you become a teacher?

I’m attracted to teaching because it gives me a sense of service. Teaching gives me an opportunity to make clear tangible difference in the lives of children.  It enables me to see the fruits of my efforts every day. It also enables me to help mold the future through impacting students’ views and understanding.  Teaching allows me to foster creativity, develop character, give students lenses with which to view the world and provide my students with the skills they need to reach their potential and lead productive lives.


In general, what do like most about being a teacher? Or what do you think is the greatest benefit of being a teacher?

Teaching gives me an opportunity to make a difference in the world by enabling me to help my students’ to fully maximize their talents, imagination, skills and character.  My heart rejoice  as students gain new insights, become more interested in a subject and learn more about themselves. Teaching brings me so much joy that I cannot even describe. It is always great to see a student who was struggling with a certain concept to finally understand the concept, that brings peace to my soul.


In general, what do you like least about being a teacher? Or what do you think is the greatest drawback of being a teacher?

As a teacher, you are not always appreciated. People view teaching as a low class job. They do not really understand the difference that you are making in the lives of the children. It breaks my heart to see how other people including the government treat teachers. As a teacher I just have to understand that teaching is a calling and because of that I should not let what others think about it let me down.


Do you have your own personal teaching philosophy that you believe and try to apply in the classroom? What do you consider to be your own personal approach to teaching?

I believe that teaching requires patience. It’s easy to get frustrated with your students especially when they are not getting something that you are teaching them. As a teacher, you don’t have to give up on your students. Always put in some effort to help the students. Do not let the situation discourage you. I approach teaching with love, patience and having faith in my students.


What are your personal goals as a teacher or educator?

As an educator my personal goal is for every child to have an opportunity to go to school and learn. I want every child to be able to atleast know how to read. I believe that every child is capable of learning despite all the challenges that may be out there.


What is the largest challenge you faced as a teacher in the classroom?

The biggest challenge that I have had in my classroom is students not being able to read and comprehend what they are reading in Grade 11. You would assume that a child is able to read by this age, but I was surprised to walk into a classroom where a majority of them were not able to read. It was hard to give them materials to read. I asked myself how it was possible for them to come this far without having this important skill. I was stretched in different ways but still more this did not make me lose hope in my students. The other challenge was not having enough teaching resources in the classroom.


What makes you feel very enthusiastic or motivated to teach? Can you describe a time when you felt very enthusiastic or motivated to teach?

Children are willing to come to school and learn even though the schools do not have enough learning materials.  Children face a lot of challenges at home for example some of them come to school with empty stomachs; some even walk long distances just to attend classes. This motivates me because I know that the children have the heart to learn, it is just the circumstances that is hindering them.


What makes you feel less enthusiastic or unmotivated to teach? Can you describe a time when you felt less enthusiastic or motivated to teach?

The way teachers are treated by the Government and other school administrators.  Teachers do not receive the respect that they deserve. Teaching is not taken as a serious professional which is very sad.  The other thing is lack of teaching resources.


How capable did you feel of being able to help every student in your class achieve academic goals? What are the biggest challenges to doing so?

During my experience at the Government school, I was not able to help each student achieve academic goals. I had almost 100 students in my classroom and it was hard for me to give them one on one help. It was also hard to manage the classroom with all those students. I felt like I could do more but the situation was just beyond my control. Teaching at a private school gave me a new experience. I felt like I was making an impact because my students were able to achieve their academic goals. I was able to track the progress of all my students because I only had 20 students in my classroom.


What type of support did you most value as a teacher? How would you rate the support you received from your fellow teachers, headmasters, supervisor, etc.?

I value support from the parents and my fellow teachers, headmaster and the administration. When I was teaching at the government school, I did not receive much support as expected. Most of the times, I felt like I was alone with my students.


What type of recognition did you most value as a teacher? In what ways, if any, did the community or government recognize your work as a teacher?

I value recognition from the parents and the government.  Unfortunately, I was not recognized in anyway by the government, atleast the teachers were sometimes valued in the community especially by the students.


What issues do you wish your training had addressed that it never did?

I wish our trainings would address the issue of discipline especially in classrooms where we had more than 100 students.


Is there anything else you wish that everyone understood about teachers that you want to say?

Teaching is a special calling and a gift. Teachers need to be valued and respected.

Self-control vs. Productivity

By Yein Suh

July 6, 2016

When we talk about the issue of teacher motivation, many of us tend to focus on external factors that affect teachers’ motivation. It is largely because we know that teachers face many challenges at the classroom level, and because external factors are those that we can more easily tackle to make changes. However, the internal aspects of teacher motivation should not be overlooked; as internal and external factors go hand in hand in teachers’ everyday lives, we should also look at what motivates teachers from within. Today we will discuss the relationship between self-control, productivity and motivation.

A recent New York Times article by Sendhil Mullainathan, written from an economic perspective, sheds some light on the complex relationship between workers’ self-control and productivity. In order to find out more information about the role of self-control in productivity, Mullainathan and two Ivy-League economists conducted an experiment with data entry workers in India.

The workers were usually paid 2 rupees for every 100 fields of data they entered. The researchers offered the workers another alternative: the workers could either keep working under their current contract or choose to work under a new contract. The new contract would give the workers a target of data fields per day. If the workers hit the target, they would be paid the same amount of money that they would have been paid under the current contract; if they failed to do so, they would be paid only half the amount they normally earned. Interestingly, although the new contract did not pay the workers more, which they also knew, they chose to work under this new contract – because it encouraged them to work much harder, exercising more self-control to push them to greater levels of productivity, even though it did not lead to increased income.

This experiment is connected to the way that strict work rules were used to strengthen self-discipline among workers during the Industrial Revolution. Indeed, in the article we hear from Dr. Greg Clark at the University of California-Davis, who notes that ‘the Industrial Revolution was in part a self-control revolution.’

Factories imposed discipline. They enforced strict work hours. There were rules for when you could go home and for when you had to show up at the beginning of your shift. If you arrived late you could be locked out for the day. For workers being paid piece rates, this certainly got them up and at work on time. You can even see something similar with the assembly line. Those operations dictate a certain pace of work. Like a running partner, an assembly line enforces a certain speed.

At the end of the article, Sendhil acknowledges that the old-fashioned ways of operating factories may not correspond to the reality of life in the modern knowledge economy. Our jobs are more complicated, working conditions are important to employees, and there is an increased desire for autonomy in the workplace. Yet, the author suggests that “if employers could tackle the problem of self-control at work successfully, we might have another revolution in productivity”.

We can see many remnants of the industrial revolution in the way that modern school systems operate. Education activists have pushed back on this approach, leading to school reform. To what extent do external factors in school systems help motivate teachers to be more effective and productive? Is it human nature for us to need stricter rules to reinforce our own self-control? Or do we flourish within systems that allow more flexibility and less oversight? What do you think are the most effective ways to address the internal aspects of teacher motivation?


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