TMWG Steering Committee Seeks New Co-Chair

Working Group Co-Chair, Terms of Reference 

The Teacher Motivation Working Group is seeking applications to fill a Co-Chair leadership position starting in August 2018. Interested applicants should contact and submit CV and cover letter to Co-Chair Emily Richardson,


The Teacher Motivation Working Group (TMWG) is comprised of individuals across various sectors interested in advancing the understanding of teacher motivation in order to uncover the factors (both intrinsic and extrinsic) that have an impact on teachers providing quality instruction as a channel for improving student learning outcomes.

The TMWG was conceived of during a workshop that was held at the annual 2013 Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) conference in New Orleans. During this conference, workshop organizers from Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee, the Center for International Education at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and New York University presented their work and literature on teacher motivation issues in developing and emergency education contexts. TMWG membership has grown to include interested individuals from FHI 360, Education Development Center, Chemonics, UNESCO, Asia Advisory, GPE, UNHCR, Childfund, RTI, INEE, USAID, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Columbia Teachers College, and Stanford University, and many other organizations and institutes. The TMWG has officially partnered with UNESCO’s International Task Force on Teachers for Education for All.

The Teacher Motivation Working Group (TMWG) focuses on teachers and the teaching environment to achieve the following goals:

  • Understand teacher motivation and well-being—what it is, why it is important, and how it affects teachers’ desire and ability to provide quality instruction in low-income contexts;
  • Contribute to the global knowledge base on teacher motivation and well-being, and elevate teacher voices in the process of producing that knowledge; and
  • Serve as a research hub and knowledge dissemination platform for a wide range of stakeholders including policymakers, practitioners, and researchers.

We use the following strategies to achieve our goals:

  • Consolidate research and evaluation studies on teacher motivation and well-being;
  • Develop and openly share tools, resources, and formal learning experiences that help us better understand and measure teacher motivation and well-being; and
  • Build a community of stakeholders invested in advancing policy and practice that is informed by teacher motivation and well-being research.

Role and Responsibilities

  1. Co-lead the Teacher Motivation Working Group, collaborating with a leadership team of 5-7 working group members representing a variety of international institutions.
  2. Co-host monthly working group conference calls to manage regular business and advance the mission of the working group.
  3. Co-lead the strategic planning process to update the overall vision of the working group and provide leadership in working towards the achievement of all identified goals.
  4. Supervise the work of any interns hired by the working group.
  5. Research grants and related funding opportunities for which the TMWG may be eligible to amplify the impact of the working group.
  6. Network with leading individuals and institutions in the field to support teacher motivation research through a variety of strategies, including webinars, conferences, co-hosted events, etc.
  7. Lead proposal development and submission for the working group’s participation in the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) annual conference (pre-conference workshop and other sessions, as applicable). Attend and present at the conference with working group members.
  8. Stay up to date on teacher motivation research and share with the working group and its membership (e.g. research articles, papers, blog posts, and other media).


  • Advanced degree in relevant field with expertise in research and practice related to teacher motivation.
  • Prior team leadership experience through professional or volunteer channels.
  • Preferred prior experience as a K-12 teacher or working with K-12 teachers in low-income contexts (developing countries preferred).
  • Excellent communication and writing skills.
  • Strategic vision and ability to organize team members around the achievement of shared goals.

Applicants should be available to commit for a term of two years. This is a volunteer leadership position and is not compensated.

Webinar: The UTeach Approach to Recruiting and Preparing Teachers to Improve Student Learning in STEM Disciplines

Presenters: Kimberly Hughes

Date: November 2017

Organization: UTeach Institute, University of Texas at Austin

View webinar recording HERE

Abstract: UTeach is an innovative teacher preparation program that increases the number of qualified STEM teachers produced by universities. UTeach prepares teachers with deep content knowledge and inquiry-based pedagogical strategies. More than 7000 students are currently enrolled in UTeach programs at 46 U.S. universities and more than 3800 graduates have been produced. UTeach programs produce teachers at a lower cost than other leading programs, and their graduates stay in teaching longer, improve student performance in math and science, and influence students to enter STEM fields. During this webinar, Kim Hughes discusses UTeach impact and describes the UTeach approach to recruiting, preparing, and supporting professional development of secondary STEM teachers.

Presenter Bio:  Kimberly Hughes oversees national expansion of the UTeach secondary STEM teacher preparation program as Director of the UTeach Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. Forty-four U.S. universities enroll nearly 7000 students in UTeach programs. Kim has strategically expanded the work of the UTeach Institute to address national STEM education challenges. She founded the UTeach STEM Educators Association (USEA), a professional association dedicated to developing STEM literacy for all students through innovation and excellence in university-based teacher education. In 2015, she launched a national UTeach computer science education initiative to expand access to high quality computer science coursework to teachers and students in Texas and nationally.

Improving Teaching by Listening to Learners

Student Voice Research, Possibilities, and Opportunities

By Sophia D’Angelo


In my three years of teaching in the Dominican Republic, I would begin every new term by asking my students to open up their textbooks and explore. They would flip through the pages and find images or texts that caught their curious eyes. Then I would ask them to raise their hands and share—share what sparked an interest in them, something that made them excited, shocked, or at times intimidated. I would write a list on the board of everything my students mentioned and that list would be the curriculum content that guided my lesson planning for the new term.

Students having a say in what they learn about can have a remarkable impact on their learning experiences. An interest, or intrinsic motivation, proves to engage students and consequently improve learning outcomes. It seems commonsensical, but is also supported by research. It was in 1993 that Sally Brown and Donald McIntyre, in their book Making Sense of Teaching, identified student participation and consultation as the missing link to informing quality pedagogy. Yvonna Lincoln later pointed out that one lens through which to interpret student voice is that of a social or legal perspective. Student voice is a notion of human rights; children and adolescents, regardless of age, have the right for their voices to be heard. After all, Article 12 of the 1989 Convention of the Right of the Child states, “when adults are making decisions that affect children, children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account.”


Since the turn of the century, research on student voice and participation has expanded. In 2001, the research magazine FORUM published a special issue that illustrated a variety of methods to incorporate student voice in public education in the United Kingdom. And, while most of the research continues to come from British authors such as Donald McIntyre, Jean Rudduck, Julia Flutter, Michael Fielding, and Sarah Bragg, the concept of student voice has slowly started to trickle its way into discourse in the Global South. Researchers of student voice have proven the many opportunities for students to inform and improve the quality of their education. Examples of this include studies of immigrant students in New Zealand, female students in Tanzania and student activists in Chile. And though the latter example suggests a voice that is heavy and strident, Katherine Schultz writes an excellent book, Rethinking Classroom Participation: Listening to Silent Voices, which recognizes how the voices of students can also be quiet and restrained. Voice, as a concept, transforms across cultures. In Confucian heritages of the East, for example, silence is an act of deep consideration, so students from Asian cultures tend to take time before responding and sharing their thoughts. Teachers who are courageous enough to seek the opinions and feedback of their students, therefore, must also allow for students to express themselves in alternative forms.

Arts-based methods are another alternative form of incorporating student voice. Photovoice has gained special popularity as a way in which students can portray their own personal narratives through photographs. Perzines, or “personal magazines,” allow students to combine texts and images to share their stories and feelings. These creative and personalized artifacts then serve as data from which research questions are extracted and answered. It is a form of participatory youth research. Researcher and educator, Eve Tuck, uses what she calls a problem tree for students to illustrate complex issues and the ways they manifest themselves in schools. In a Canadian secondary school, Dr. Leila Angod did similar work with her students, who later publish their work on an interactive blog and online journal, leaving their mark in the digital space forever.

While there are numerous innovative ways in which researchers are using student voice to inform and improve practice, it doesn’t always have to be so sophisticated. For me, it wasn’t until after my years of teaching in the Dominican Republic that I actually learned the concept of “student voice.” However, it never occurred to me that it should be any different; of course the learners of my classroom should decide what to learn in the little time we had together. Yes, researchers and practitioners are doing some amazingly creative activities to incorporate student voice into discourse and action, but it doesn’t take some farfetched skill to cultivate student voice inside the classroom. Talk to your students. Ask them what they think. You may be surprised by what you learn.

Head Teachers as Teacher Motivators

How professional learning communities of head teachers drive teacher intrinsic motivation in Rwanda

By: Jean Pierre Mugiraneza and Alex Mahe Mukizwa, VVOB Rwanda

Motivated and competent teachers are fundamental for learning to take place. Head teachers play a powerful part in this. By applying core leadership practices they create an enabling working environment, and they support and motivate teachers, who, in turn, improve teaching and learning outcomes (Leithwood et al.,2010).

But how do head teachers acquire these practices and become effective teacher motivators? In Rwanda, professional learning communities (PLCs) of head teachers are proving to be a successful tool. VVOB Rwanda has a new paper that provides insight.

How are Rwanda’s teachers motivated?

In 2007 the government of Rwanda agreed on a Teacher Development and Management Policy that articulates the need to “develop and install a framework for motivation that will enhance the socio-economic and professional status of teachers” (MINEDUC, 2007). Important reforms were implemented in the last decade, such as improved teacher management (recruitment, deployment, transfer), better working and living conditions, etc. But it has not been easy to address the fact that Rwandan teachers earn considerably less than other similarly qualified civil servants. The introduction of a teaching profession career structure has also met with some delays.

Research shows that Rwandan head teachers play a crucial role in bringing about improvements in teacher motivation and performance: 68% of the teachers surveyed by Muvunyi (2016) report that the quality of school leadership was an important work environment motivating factor.

Why a study?

VVOB Rwanda has been a strong supporter of school leadership development, which is why we wanted to know more about how head teachers make their influence felt. We were also curious to find out whether participation in the professional learning communities of head teachers that we had piloted and rolled out had a positive effect on teacher motivation. As Rwandan head teachers have little authority over typical “carrots and sticks” (salaries, promotion, etc.) our attention quickly turned to teacher intrinsic motivation. Our understanding of this concept is shaped by self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000) – a theory that focuses primarily on people’s innate psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness.

What difference do professional learning communities of head teachers make?

Professional learning communities provide head teachers with an environment where they can share and create knowledge with trusted colleagues. In Rwanda, these PLCs are facilitated by sector education officers (SEO). The SEOs’ role is to stimulate professional inquiry and growth in an atmosphere of collaboration, keep the discussions focused around improving student learning outcomes, hold the PLC members accountable and distribute leadership.

Our study adopted a qualitative approach using focus group discussions in which a total of 39 head teachers and 64 teachers participated. Six sectors were purposively selected – the sampling criterion being that the last PLC session took place less than 100 days prior (“active PLC”). The research opted for open ended questions. This allowed the relevance of the self-determination theory to be tested without projecting the theory onto participants. 
Interestingly, head teachers’ own improved intrinsic motivation emanated as an important conduit for improving teacher motivation. Because they themselves received support from colleagues and engaged in more collaborative relations with their supervisors, head teachers felt encouraged to make positive changes in their behavior that, in turn, have a positive effect on teacher intrinsic motivation.

Head teachers as teacher motivators: What are the key drivers?

Six key drivers emerged from the analysis :


  • Encouraging head teachers to foster caring working environments.
  • Changing dynamics and focus of relationships between headteachers, schools, staff and communities to make these more professionally targeted, less hierarchical, more open to challenge and support.
  • Fostering collaborative environments for head teachers and teachers to work in and the opportunities for learning that this provided.


  • Head teachers giving teachers more responsibility and subject ownership through devolving more powers to departments, creating departments where there previously weren’t any, and allocating heads of departments.


  • Greater distribution of workload within and between schools, for example through shared responsibility of examinations. This allowed teachers to learn from other schools through working together.
  • Head teachers taking more responsibility for developing teachers, through increased observation and effective feedback.

About the Authors: 

Jean Pierre Mugiraneza Bio (Speaker)

Jean Pierre joined VVOB Rwanda this year as MEAL advisor. He worked in a similar capacity at Save the Children in Rwanda and participated in the design, data collection and implementation of programs funded by DFID, USAID, JIKA and the IKEA Foundation. Jean Pierre also worked as a lecturer at the University of Rwanda College of Education (URCE), specializing in quantitative and qualitative research methods. He co-published a book on “Concise statistics: An illustrative approach to problem solving”. He is completing a PhD on Economics of Education at Kenyatta University.

Alex Mahe Mukizwa Bio (Speaker)

Alex is an Education Advisor for VVOB Rwanda. For the past 3 years, he has coordinated VVOB’s work on professional learning communities of head teachers, which has been realized with support from DFID and the Belgian government. Before joining VVOB, he taught nursery and primary classes and worked with the Rwanda National Youth Council as the Coordinator of Huye Youth Friendly Centre. Alex has a BA from the University of Rwanda College of Education (URCE) and is currently pursuing an MA in Educational Planning and Management at Mount Kenya University.

Read the full report here:

Impact of PLNs on Headteacher and Teacher intrinsic motivation, Rwanda (1)


Leading By Example

The power of a motivated and motivational school leader

By Sophia D’Angelo

Think back to one of your favorite jobs. How would you describe the environment in which you worked? How were the people you worked with or the supervisors you worked for? Leadership, just as in any profession, plays a critical role in teaching and teacher motivation. Head teachers or school principals have the power to instill motivation and commitment in their teachers and cultivate a culture of professionalism and development. In his book, Leading in a Culture of Change, Michael Fullan elaborates on the five aspects of an effective school leader.

First and foremost, leaders must feel that they have a moral purpose, a desire to contribute to something beyond themselves. They must feel internally motivated so that they can leverage this motivation externally and impact those they work with. Second, in order to fulfill this purpose and reach the goals that they have set out, leaders should also understand how the processes of change and development work. In order for teachers to change their approach to teaching, they must recognize their potential to improve outcomes in the classroom. People do not change by being told to do so. Only by acknowledging the positive impact that their personal growth may have,  will teachers willingly accept the need to change. Third is relationships, relationships, relationships. Mutual respect and emotional intelligence is of utmost importance when working to build motivation.

The fourth characteristic is what Fullan refers to as “knowledge building.” Effective school leaders cultivate a school ethos that promotes collaboration and the co-creation of knowledge. Knowledge building is just as important as knowledge sharing. Time should be allotted for teachers to meet, converse, plan together, and discuss issues that they may be encountering with their students. In these professional learning communities educators are able to join together to build motivation and commitment in community.

Finally, an effective leader forges a cohesive environment. School leaders must recognize the complex dynamics of change and progress. Fullan describes change as something that occurs on “the edge of chaos.” Change is often rooted in disorder or disagreement. Therefore, part of an effective leader’s job is to allow for these disturbances to occur and simultaneously guide people through them.

Teaching requires both professional skills and emotional investment. Feeling as though you are part of something bigger—an important link in the chain—naturally causes you to invest in your work. Fullan calls it a shared sense of commitment, which is often characteristic of professional learning communities. A head teacher, or school principal, is in charge of setting the tone for that community, fostering a culture of progress and development, and of course, leading by example.




Fullan, Michael. 2001. Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

For more on Professional Learning Communities see:

Stoll, L., Bolam, R., McMahon, A., Wallace, M., & Thomas, S. (2006). “Professional learning communities: a review of the literature.” Journal of Educational Change, (7): 221–258.



Sophia has a Masters degree in Education and International Development from the University of Cambridge, where she is also currently pursuing a PhD focused on teacher effectiveness in Latin America and the Caribbean. Prior to studying she worked for 4 years in the Dominican Republic, both as a teacher and teacher trainer. She also has a variety of experiences in educational research and consulting with international development agencies such as Save the Children U.K. and the Research for Equitable Access and Learning Centre.

Webinar: The UTeach Approach to Recruiting and Preparing Teachers to Improve Student Learning in STEM Disciplines

Presenter:  Kimberly Hughes

Date & Time:  Wednesday, November 8th at 11 EST

Presentation Abstract:  UTeach is an innovative teacher preparation program that increases the number of qualified STEM teachers produced by universities. UTeach prepares teachers with deep content knowledge and inquiry-based pedagogical strategies. More than 7000 students are currently enrolled in UTeach programs at 46 U.S. universities and more than 3800 graduates have been produced. UTeach programs produce teachers at a lower cost than other leading programs, and their graduates stay in teaching longer, improve student performance in math and science, and influence students to enter STEM fields. During this webinar, Kim Hughes will discuss UTeach impact and describe the UTeach approach to recruiting, preparing, and supporting professional development of secondary STEM teachers.

Presenter Bio:  Kimberly Hughes oversees national expansion of the UTeach secondary STEM teacher preparation program as Director of the UTeach Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. Forty-four U.S. universities enroll nearly 7000 students in UTeach programs. Kim has strategically expanded the work of the UTeach Institute to address national STEM education challenges. She founded the UTeach STEM Educators Association (USEA), a professional association dedicated to developing STEM literacy for all students through innovation and excellence in university-based teacher education. In 2015, she launched a national UTeach computer science education initiative to expand access to high quality computer science coursework to teachers and students in Texas and nationally.

Where Should Teacher Motivation Begin?

By Sierra Janjua

As children, we all learned to mimic the behaviors we saw in the world around us.  Many of us would copy the actions of people closest to us, whether that be a mother or father, a sister or a brother.  In engaging with those closest to us, we created an identity that was integral to our development as people. Teachers form their identities as educators in much the same way, as they look to others for ideas about the types of behaviors and practices that might be effective in the classroom.  When teachers are surrounded by a supportive and engaged community, these relationships will undoubtedly influence not only their teaching practice but also their motivation.

A teacher’s identity formation may begin in a variety of ways.  Many teachers go through pre-service programs in colleges or universities or seek a career as an educator through alternative certification programs.  Regardless of the point of entry, these formative experiences can inform how educators approach the teaching profession by shaping their early beliefs about teaching and learning and helping them connect those beliefs to their developing instructional practices.  Relationships with peers, mentors, and students all play a role in how pre-service teachers see themselves in the classroom.  Intentional cultivation of these relationships can be especially important in the teaching profession given the sometimes isolating nature of the work—teachers regularly spend their time at school isolated in their individual classrooms with little opportunity to interact with their professional peers.  

In a recent study related to this idea, Yuan and Zhang (2017) focused on the shift in motivations that Chinese student teachers experienced during a four year, pre-service language teacher training program in China.  The study examined teachers’ experiences through four key factors: self-efficacy (the sense that one is able to accomplish the goals set forth), outcome expectations (the belief that engagement will lead to positive results), professional autonomy (the ability to be self-directed in one’s work), and social support (positive interactions with mentors, peers, and students).

The study found that social support “contributed to some student teachers’ teaching competence… hence boost[ing] their self-efficacy with positive influences on their motivational development” (Yuan & Zhang, 2017, p. 150).  Through feeling connected to a community, these student teachers were able to shape their identities as teachers and develop improved motivation in the classroom.

This study’s findings likely ring true for many teachers.  When teachers feel supported by other teachers and the community within which they teach, they feel part of something much larger than themselves. This sense of connectedness helps motivate them to be the best and most effective teachers they can be!

Teachers, let’s build some social support in our online community by sharing our experiences!  Do you feel supported by your administration, colleagues, and larger community?  If so, what helps you build that sense of community?  Do you have any strategies to share that might be useful for those of us who are still seeking social supports?


Guest Blogger Bio

Sierra Janjua has an undergraduate degree in Secondary Education – English from Oklahoma State University and is currently working on her master’s degree in International Education at George Washington University. Sierra has spent the past 3 years teaching in many different settings; public schools in Oklahoma and Texas, rural village schools in Ecuador, and an international school in Costa Rica. She is focusing her graduate research on using education to fight extremism and refugee education.

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: 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!