As a teacher, everything you do in the classroom has an unprecedented ripple effect, including your general attitude. This article discusses how a teacher’s lack or abundance of motivation affects their students.

Think back to your school or college days: think of one teacher who inspired and enthralled you, and another that didn’t – why was this? What were the differences? As well as sharing a passion not just for their subject but for learning, one key difference was their motivation. Excellent teachers are fuelled by their passion for student learning. This often grows through the effort it takes to become a qualified teacher, whether that be through a traditional university route, or by starting off with an online teaching course. As a teacher or teaching assistant, you are now in the position to pass on vital skills and knowledge to your students.

An excellent teacher fuels the natural curiosity to learn that is in us all. But why is motivation important?

A successful learning environment

Motivation is key to a successful classroom whether it is a class full of primary school children or a workshop in a college setting.

A motivated teacher has a different outlook that one who is simply ‘going through the motions’.

Motivation is what energises, directs and sustains positive behaviour in the classroom. It means creating challenging goals alongside activities and tasks that help a student or class reach these dizzying heights.

Sparking the desire to explore and to learn, a motivated teacher doesn’t necessarily mean someone who bounces around the classroom with unfettered energy. It isn’t about being popular, either.

Value and respect

In considering motivation and teachers, we need to think back to the two examples we started with.

What kind of learning environment did the good teacher create? And what kind of environment did the not-so-good teacher create? Was this experience particular to you or was it shared by the whole class?

The truth is, you may have found some lessons and a certain teacher boring, but the person sat next to you found it interesting and seemed to do well.

A motivated teacher is one who personalises and individualises learning. And to do so, they create a learning environment in which they value and respect each individual learner.

There is a saying – try to teach a goldfish to climb and it will spend the rest of its life thinking it is stupid – and this is what underlies the teaching methods of a teacher motivated to help ALL their students to learn.

Personality

Teaching is not a personality contest BUT, personality and likability do play a part in fostering a successful learning environment.

Teacher training today looks at every aspect and every minute of the lesson, from the greeting at the door of the classroom, to the respect within the four walls of the learning space, to how a lesson is ended.

It is also about a teacher interacting with students outside of the classroom when they engage with students in the hallways, the canteen, the schoolyard and other areas of the school or college.

When a student feels a personal connection with a teacher, they engage better. More importantly, they want to engage with someone they see and feel as liking them but valuing and respecting them too.

Teacher motivation in the classroom – what does it look like?

What makes a good teacher is a combination of all kinds of factors, principles, skills and more than a dash of personality;

Motivation has long been studied by modern and ancient scholars. What do you think it is? What motivates you to learn and to teach?

Choosing childcare is difficult for any parent. There are various options, with a nursery and childminder being two of the most popular options. Just how do you decide which one is best for you and your child?

illustration of a teacher reading to children

Making a decision about childcare needs to be an informed one, based on the information you gather. It is an important choice. As well as your child being safe, you want them stimulated in a nurturing, educational environment.

However, instinct plays a big part in whether you are happy to leave your child in the care of a nursery of a childminder. But rather than listing pros and cons for each, we decided to look at five key question to ask of both the childminder and the nursery.

1.   What qualifications do you have?

It may surprise you, but a childminder and nursery staff are not obligated to be qualified in childminding. They need to hold a current Paediatric First Aid certificate but other than that, once the policies and procedures are in place to the satisfaction of the local authority, a nursery or childminder can start to operate.

That said, most nurseries will train their staff and most childminders will also look to complete a range of childcare courses. Qualifications are important and deeply reassuring when you are leaving your bundle of joy in their care.

Qualifications show that the nursery or childminder understand how to provide the right care and have a deeper understanding of your child’s need and how they develop.

2.   What did your last inspection report say?

Nurseries in England are registered with OFSTED – education and nurseries are a devolved responsibility in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland so consult the appropriate regulatory body – and thus, are inspected at regular intervals.

As part of this inspection process, a detail report is produced with a final ‘grading’, from excellent to good, poor or inadequate. Look on OFSTED’s website and check the official report from the last inspection.

Nurseries will often promote their business on the better bits of this report, so it is important to get the overall picture.

For childminders, they too are inspected by OFSTED in England to ensure that they are meeting the safety and learning standards expected of them. Like nurseries, their reports are published after inspection too.

3.   What is the daily routine?

Attending nursery or being cared for by a childminder is a big change in your child’s routine. Most children find comfort in a structure to their day and in fact, can prove advantageous when they start school.

Nurseries will often have a prescribed timetable for the day, similar to that of a school. There may be messy play in the morning, followed by story time before lunch. Some nurseries advocate sleeping after lunch whilst others allow napping to happen as and when a child wants.

The afternoon may be outside play or another activity. Nurseries will display a weekly or monthly timetable for parents to see how the day is structured.

Childminders can operate differently, depending on the children they are looking after. Like a nursery setting, a childminder is expected to offer different tasks and activities during the day to create a stimulating learning environment.

4.   How will you keep me informed?

You want to know what your child has been doing during their time at nursery or with the childminder. Likewise, you also want to know if there are any concerns and also the best way for you to communicate with them.

Nurseries and childminders should keep a development record or a daily, weekly or monthly reporting system so that you can see what your child has been doing. Or you can leave a notebook with your childminder and ask them to make a daily entry as to what your child did during their time with them, what they ate, when they napped and so on.

5.   How do you manage behaviour?

To be safe and happy, children need boundaries, but discipline varies from one parent to another, and from one nursery and childminder to another too.

Ask to see their policy document on discipline and how they prefer to do things. Some nurseries and childminders will use distraction techniques, raising concerns with parents and working together and so on.

Managing behaviour is covered in our extensive guide ‘How to become a nursery nurse’ – why not take a look?

You want the best for your child and thus, as well as asking key questions, relying on your own instinct. Is this the person or the nursery who gives off all the right vibes too?