Maintaining Teacher Motivation

Article excerpt

Thirteen years, kindergarten through twelfth grade, are spent by a student attaining a high school education. For thirteen years, five times a week, six hours a day - this enormous amount of time a student remains under the direction of a teacher. The teacher thusly, plays a significant role in the student's life. As one becomes a product of one's learnings, the student builds him/herself with the teachings of a teacher. The teacher's knowledge, along with the teacher's feelings, become integrated within the student's schemata. Should the teacher not like teaching, the student emerges from the classroom with a dislike for education. When the teacher loves his/her profession, the student learns to love education. What makes a person love his/her profession? There are many dynamics which coalesce into the person who loves his/her profession. The major dynamic: motivation. When one understands the components involved in the construct of motivation, one can better become and remain motivated. When a teacher remains motivated, loving the teaching profession, the students not only learn the content taught by the teacher, but the students are also motivated toward learning.

One remains motivated in a profession when stress is kept at a minimum. The article, "A Study of the Relationships Among Teacher Efficacy, Locus of Control, and Stress," authorized by Forrest W. Parkay, Stephen Olenik, and Norman Proller, reported stress experienced by teachers in a study concerning teacher's stress in connection with locus of control, feelings of efficacy, and perceptions of stress. The authors defined locus of control as the belief that one's behavior determines the events of one's life. There were two different types of locus of control: internal and external, as reported in the article. The internal locus of control is a state of belief in which one feels in control of the situation. Conversely, the external locus of control is a state where one feels the events are beyond one's control. In this study, the researchers reported the teachers with an external locus of control construct responded to stress with "more anxiety, neurotic symptoms, and self-punitiveness" than those teachers with an internal locus of control construct. (13) The teachers with the later construct were found to experience less stress and received higher scores on standard teaching evaluations. The students of these teachers were reported to feel less school related stress and also scored higher on their own assessments. Teacher efficacy, as defined by the authors, means teachers believe their actions and beliefs directly affect students. The researchers, of this article, found a correlation between teacher efficacy and student performance; when teachers felt they could produce the desired outcome by students, students produced positive achievements. (14) The researchers, of this study, also found teachers of low stress schools developed "fewer physical symptoms of job-related stress and fewer psychological/emotional stress symptoms of stress." (20) Teachers in high-stress schools felt powerless to control events and responded to job-related stress dysfunc-tionally, employing "ineffective stress management skills." (20) After the findings of this study were reported, the researchers suggested more staff development activities which aggravate control beliefs and abate teacher perceived stress be initiated prior to the introduction of new curricular materials. (20) Also, the researchers suggested to prevent teacher burnout, stress management training and coping skills be taught to teachers. One such training suggested was the R.E.A.D. program, the acronym for deep relaxation, regular exercise, attitude and awareness, and diet. (21)

Another study concerning teacher efficacy, but in conjunction with teachers' commitment to teaching, was reported by Theodore Coladarci in his article, "Teacher's Sense of Efficacy and Commitment to Teaching." In his article, Colardarci defined efficacy as referring to "one's beliefs rather than to observable behavior. …