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How to Motivate Teachers as a Principal 

5 Min Read
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As an administrator, it’s essential to create a school climate that motivates students and your teachers too. Motivated teachers are happier, more confident, and better able to carry out work that will lead to the desired behavior in students. With these outcomes in mind, here are thirteen ways principals can motivate teachers.

13 Ways Principals Can Motivate Teachers

1. Praise them

One of the most effective ways to motivate your teachers is to praise them. Complimenting someone on their work makes them feel valued. This is something everyone needs from time to time, regardless of how confident they may appear to be. 

Praising someone in private can have a profound effect but complimenting them in public is far more powerful. It shows how pleased you are with their performance and how eager you are to tell others about it. Here are some ways to publicly praise a teacher: 

  • During faculty meetings
  • Via group email
  • In your school newsletter

2. Recognize staff who consistently go above and beyond

Every workplace has one: an employee who always seems to be doing something good for someone else, beyond their assigned responsibilities. And they rarely, if ever complain. They genuinely enjoy helping others! If a name of someone from your staff just popped into your head, make sure they know how much you and everyone else appreciates them.

3. Make yourself available

Be as approachable as possible and make time to listen to your teachers’ concerns and queries. Just knowing that you’re available to talk will make your teachers feel more comfortable, should they want to get something off their chest.

One way you can achieve this is by holding 15-minute office hours once or twice a week. By doing so regularly, you’ll make it easier for instructors to reach out to you with concerns instead of putting them off.

4. Craft a compelling reward program

While a better school climate will allow teachers to carry out their jobs better and happier, being able to scoop up some great rewards along the way is an additional motivator. Plus, it’s fun!

Try recruiting local businesses to help out by donating prizes or offering discounted prices to your school and staff. These businesses are part of the community and appreciate the work teachers do, so it’s far easier to get them on board than you might realize.

5. Recognize (and reward) effort

As well as recognizing tangible achievements, be sure to recognize the efforts teachers are demonstrating. This is especially important when you’re implementing a new initiative, and there’s initial confusion, resistance, or friction in getting up and running. Recognizing your teachers’ efforts is reassuring, because it lets them know they’re moving in the right direction.

6. Ask for their opinions

When you’re putting something together — whether it’s a special event or new initiative — ask for your teachers’ input. They’ll feel a greater sense of ownership to the idea and may have suggestions you hadn’t even thought of that could make it easier to bring new initiatives and special events to fruition.

7. Encourage their ideas

Create a way for teachers to share their ideas. This is a chance to unearth some real gems the school could benefit from. The mere notion that you’re open to their ideas is a huge motivator for some teachers.

8. Recognize when they’re busy or stressed

Show extra appreciation during periods when teachers are particularly busy or stressed, like the beginning of the school year. Do something as simple as voicing that you know they’re busy and that you appreciate their hard work. It may not sound like much, but it shows empathy and gratitude. If you can find a way to waive, or at least shorten, meetings during these busy periods, that will also be greatly appreciated.

9. Put fun events on the calendar

Although events like school plays and sports days are lots of fun for students and parents, they can be a whole lot of extra work for staff. Naturally, most are happy to do it, because of the joy it brings to their students. But why not sweeten the deal by organizing something fun for them afterwards? For example, put out a celebratory spread in the teacher’s lounge after an event!

10. Buy them lunch

Every so often, like once a month or semester, why not buy your staff lunch? Be sure to let them know beforehand, so that those who usually pack a lunch don’t that day. Be sure to take note of any allergies or food restrictions beforehand.

11. The morning/afternoon off voucher

Every semester, give every teacher a voucher for a fuss-free morning or afternoon off. All they’d be required to do is give a little notice so a substitute can be arranged. Having that voucher in their back pocket is reassuring, because they know they’ll have an out if they feel overwhelmed or if something comes up unexpectedly. Plus, it’s another small gesture that shows you care about their wellbeing and work-life balance.

12. Free coffee/snacks

Occasionally, provide free coffee in the teacher’s lounge for staff to enjoy on their breaks. Or, if you already provide coffee, put out some healthy snacks, like a fruit platter.

13. Create a forum so teachers can recognize each others’ hard work

Recognizing your teachers is important, but it’s also nice to create ways for them to recognize each other. You could also extend this idea to allow students and parents to share their appreciation, too.

Here’s a simple idea:

  • Provide cards for people to write notes of appreciation with a box to drop the notes into
  • Create an inbox so people can send messages of gratitude

Then, once a month, share the recognition and gratitude for individual teachers in a meeting or in school-wide communications. This idea highlights the positive in your school and shows teachers not only that they’re valued but also why they’re being recognized, which is very powerful.

Teaching can be tough at times so it’s lovely, and incredibly motivating, to be reminded of how much you mean to people.

This article was adapted from a blog post initially developed by the education technology company Classcraft, which was acquired by HMH in 2023. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.


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