Teacher Motivation

August 1, 2009

When you fast start teaching TEFL you have a lot to learn very quickly – it can be quite manic (and sometimes a bit stressful!). Then, after about 6 months, things change. You suddenly become fairly comfortable in your role as an English teacher; you’ve got basic classroom management down, you’re more comfortable talking about grammar, better at explaining lexis, and more competent at checking understanding . Indeed, you might even have started working with phonology!

Once you’re at that stage you need to find ways to keep yourself motivated. But in a job where burn out is not uncommon, where pay could be better, and where the subject matter can be quite repetitive, it’s easier said than done.

So how CAN we keep ourselves motivated? I think that the way that we prepare for our classes is an important factor – more specifically, we need to preview the upcoming chapters in the coursebook with a critical and innovative eye.

Here are 3 questions to ask yourself when preparing for classes:

1. Can I you make it more interesting for my learners and for me by supplementing the coursebook material with additional tasks and activities? Ideally, ones which will go down well with this particular group. Perhaps something along lines of recent suggestion on the very same Kalinago English page appointments would do the trick – using learners’ smart phones to make appointments.

2. Is there a way of working with that language area that I haven’t used before? It’s all too easy to rely on your tried and tested explanations and techniques and we all do it from time to time… but if it becomes a habit then watch out! Try out a new approach or techniques (without neglecting learners’ needs and interests, of course!).

3. Can I learn more about the theme of the chapter in order to stimulate more personal interest? This one is particularly pertinent in an ESP context. When I was teaching in multi-national companies, I knew I could get by teaching the chapter on, for example on advertising, with my non-specialist knowledge the subject area but it was much more motivating for me if found out, in this case, about how the company that my students worked for advertised.

I’m sure there is more that can be said on the topic. If you have any ideas for keeping yourself motivated as a teacher, please share them below.