The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on everyone including schools. School leaders know that physical schools may be closed but the schooling must go on, and; learning must go on.
Schools have moved to online learning. Teachers are working from home, taking classes with students over video, preparing lesson plans, collaborating with other teachers amongst many other tasks. Teachers are working harder and longer, and many are just exploring the technology at play. It is a big change that requires school leaders to manage the motivation of their teachers to prevent loss in productivity, and burn-out.
Here are a few ideas to make sure your teachers remain motivated and online schooling continues smoothly.
1. Share the larger vision - the ‘why’
It’s important to clearly articulate ‘why’ the school exists, what it stands for, and how it is achieving its mission and goals. People are attracted and inspired not by the ‘what’ or ‘how’, but by the ‘why’. Admittedly, formulating the ‘why ’ isn’t easy. School leaders need to take a hard look at the ‘why’ of the school’s existence. They need to first formulate a purpose that makes sense, articulate the same lucidly, and communicate it to their teachers. The school’s daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals must be derived from this vision. Every action the school leaders take, every decision they make must be aligned with the vision and be a step towards achieving these goals.
2. Communicate the benefits of technology
Technology is indispensable now. It solves problems, automates tasks, and helps us organize. But like any tool, one must know the tool before it can be used. The adoption of EdTech is so much faster if teachers know the benefits and capabilities of the tools available to them. Invest time and energy in communicating the benefits and capabilities of the EdTech tools the school has adopted.
3. Create an environment of intrinsic motivation
Intrinsic motivation is always more powerful than extrinsic motivation. If the right environment of intrinsic motivation is created, people give their maximum on their own. Three conditions are needed to create an environment of intrinsic motivation for your staff:
- PURPOSE: The teachers must be clear about the vision of the school and understand how their actions contribute to achieving the school’s goals. They should be clear about what is expected of them.
- AUTONOMY: The teachers must be empowered to take action to achieve these goals. The teachers need to know that they have the power to get the required tasks done.
- MASTERY: The teachers must be trained and coached to use EdTech correctly and be able to perform the needed tasks. They must be aware of or made aware of the intricacies of the technology they are using.
4. One likes to do the tasks he/she is good at, so train your teachers well
If you are good at something, you are happy to do it. The more you do it, the better you become. And if a task has an element of creativity and gives a sense of achievement, one is happy to do it and does it well. So, it makes sense to invest time and energy in training your teachers well for the EdTech solutions the school uses or plans to use. Of course, keeping in mind what the teachers are interested in and good at.
5. Appoint EdTech champions
Every school has a few teachers who are good at adopting new technology. Such teachers don’t need much motivation to adopt new technology. Recognize them as champions and bearers of the EdTech change in the school. These champions become the go-to support for the rest of the staff. They’re usually the frontrunners who are happy to help others and find more creative ways to use EdTech in the school. They are your catalysts for a better education.
6. Celebrate success & gamify
It is important to celebrate each and every success. School leaders have a large role to play here. Congratulate and appreciate each teacher on their EdTech adoption journey, but also remember to celebrate each success as the success of the whole school. Every small celebration of success gives a sense of achievement to the entire school community to adopt the change and continue to strive for better goals.
Schools can choose to gamify the use of EdTech in the school. Simply explained, gamification means converting goals and work tasks into game-like-tasks with rewards and celebrate goals and achievements. A lot has been written and is freely available online about workplace gamification. But a word of caution: Gamification works when a person competes with himself/herself. The moment teachers start competing with each other, or school leaders start comparing the achievements of one teacher with another, the sense of community breaks-down and leads to demotivation; even unhealthy competition.
7. Care about their problems, these are tough times
The school leaders and the teachers need each other more than ever. It is important for the school leaders to take a step back from the day to day tasks and find out how each teacher is doing. Are they happy? What are their fears? How is life at home? What can the school do to help them? Not all help has to be financial. A little emotional support can go a long way in building trust and comfort in your teachers. Everyone understands what we are going through, but just a little bit of one-to-one care can do wonders.
An educationist for the last 15 years, is at the helm of his family owned K12 school, Modern school at Lucknow - an IB World School also offering ICSE/ISC. He has also been the Chairman of North India & Nepal Network of IB PYP Schools from 2013 to 2015.
Siddhartha is passionate about communication, brand-building and marketing of schools. LERNIO is his 3-year-old EdTech startup, offering a beautiful smartphone app and services to enable schools to have better communication with parents to drive trust, word of mouth and school growth. LinkedIn