Tony Gurr

…and then, do it all again…on TUESDAY morning?

In Educational Leadership, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 08/12/2011 at 12:52 pm

In my last post (the 150th, remember) – I asked Troy Roddy if I could re-post his thunks on Motivating Teachers…and said I’d follow-up with some of my own…

What I liked about Troy’s post was the way he drew attention to the emotional side of motivation – and highlighted that TEACHing and LEARNing are frequently about more than “money” (the “usual carrot” so many “motivational experts” talk about). I also liked the fact that his understanding of allthingsmotivation was not about the “usual sticks” (used by those educational supervisors or managers who are, shall we say, “less endowed” in the “consciousness department”)!


Troy’s conceptualisation of motivation is firmed grounded on the power of “care” – and creating the conditions for improved “TEACHer engagement“, even when we do those tasks that do not give us the “buzz” we get from LEARNing and TEACHing

A lot of people seemed to like the “title” I used for the post – don’t we all just know those Monday morning feelings? That title actually came from a question I posed to a group of “new” heads at a School here in Turkey a few weeks back.

The question was:

Actually, if you “lead” a team of teachers yourself – you might want to do a version of the “little exercise” we did together. Get a slip of paper of paper (or open up a spreadsheet) and set up 4 columns:

1. Write down the names of all your teachers in the first.

2. Next to their names (in column #2) write down the qualifications they hold and the years of experience they have as a teacher.

3. In the next column, write down their birthday – and the names of all their “peeps” (partner’s name, kids’ names, name of any pets they have, etc)…

4. In the “final” column, answer the question above!

See where I am going with this?


Most people, when they do this type of exercise, do well on parts #1 and #2 – those who tend to do a really good job with their teams also do #3 pretty well. But, by far the most effective of “school leaders” can also complete column #4 as fast as they can draw up #1

Why is this?


Simple, you can’t “care” unless you know what to care about – with “individuals” (not just a “group” – or what you “think” the “group” cares about)! Isn’t that what “great doctors” do – care – one patient at a time (even with the most “grumpy” or “difficult” of patients)?

Isn’t that what “great teachers” do, too?

And, you can’t “motivate” people unless you can do “stuff” (useful stuff) with what you know about those individuals…



But, and here’s the deal, this is not really about “motivating” people!

Remember, the “secret” I shared with you all yesterday (it’s actually also embedded in Stephen Covey’s quote up the top there) – I still maintain it’s true!

For sure, MaslowHerzberg – and even Reiss, do a great job of telling us about what might “matter” to most of our peeps – and there are loads more “theories of motivation” to get through (especially if you are an insomniac)! We can also bone up on Tuckman’s Team Development Model (and even review The Five Stages of Grief – from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, if we are wondering what the hell is going wrong with all our “change” initiatives)!

The problem is that all these wonderful theories – don’t tell us much about how to “do motivation” with each and every individual we “lead”! I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say all most of the stuff we “read” (and are “told” by over-paid consultants) is “crap” – sorry!

OK – maybe that is a bit too “stong”! But, I for one would probably not get too excited about buying the book:


However, I might stand in line all night (with me sleeping bag and pot of coffee) for this one:

You see when we talk about “motivating teachers” perhaps what we should be thunking is “engaging” them instead – and “care” is the starting point of all engagement strategies.

We all get this for “students”, right?

So, why is it any different for “teachers”?


Now, you might say – Tony, just stop playing with words!

I say – Covey got it right – and all this rubbish about “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” is just that – rubbish!

There are far better “sources” for LEARNing about motivation (backed by research for all you “data-lovers”) – and most of them are just good ole common sense (and do not require that you sign up for an MBA or conduct a two-year, longitudinal, quantative, dead-as-a-doornail, PhD research project on what makes my people “tick” – that no-one will read or worse, cite!).


Let’s go back to that earlier questionwhy the hell do we get out of bed in the morning?

Common-sense tells us that we all have to pay the rent, cover the bills and feed the kids. Basically, we have to accept that most people go to work for the “dosh” at the end of the month. This is not a crimethis is not evil…and this does not mean that all teachers will scream out “Show Me The Money!” when we come up with an idea or two for improving student LEARNing and SUCCESS (if that’s what we are really, really after)…

Teachers are also in the “game” for a number of reasons – and, luckily, most of us can relate these to student LEARNing:



This tells me, at least, that all those theories about “carrots” and “sticks” (especially these) – are just “dumb”! OK – you might be able to disregard my thunks (most people do)! But, let’s see what some of the “data” says…

Those lovely chaps at GALLUP (you know, the guys that tell us who will win the elections just before and after we vote – and before they are “stolen” by the guy we did not vote for) have been doing a “tiny” research project – for the last 30+ years and with around about …17,500,000 employees!

Some of the stuff they have uncovered is pretty “scary”:

And, you know what else?


Now, I know these numbers come from a wide range of employment sectots – and I hope to God the numbers for education are a bit lower – they do suggest that the problem is not one of “motivation” and certainly not of what we can do to “motivate others“.

What’s more interesting is the other side of the GALLUP project – by working with that “tiny sample” of theirs, they have also come up with a set of “magic questions”the Q12! These 12 little questions were “discovered” after the girls and boys at GALLUP sifted through the hundreds of questions (in hundreds of surveys) they “tried out” for the project.

What they found was a fair bit of correlation  between those people that were “most engaged” – and also most “productive“, most “satisfied“, most “customer-orientated“, most “loyal“……do I really need to go on?

And, you know what…not one of the Q12 was about “dosh”!


Some of the most critical questions are (hell, I’ll give you ALL of them):

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?

2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?

5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?

8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?

9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10. Do I have a best friend at work?

11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?

12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?


Take a look at them – and tell me which ones focus on “the currency of care”

Also, go back and take a look at the “numbers” we noted above – and tell me if you can’t see a slight correlation between the 24% and the other numbers

Sure, there are some things there about “role clarification” and “resources” – duh! We don’t ask a plumber to fix our water pipes – and then hide his bloody tools!

Troy got this in nearly all his suggestions about ways to help teachers get on with the less “sexy” bits of carrying out the business of teaching – but I’m guessing it is the “way” he does many of these things that is more important than many of the actions themselves.

I say again, the vast majority of the Q12 questions focus on care, LEARNing and care…..BTW, did I mention “CARE”!


Oh, dear – gone over me word limit again!

Just tell me it makes sense…

OK, and to wrap up, let’s go back to that other book I’m probably not going to write. My version of Engaging Teachers for DUMMIES would have three chapters…

  • Chapter One – KNOW THYSELF!
  • Chapter Two – KNOW THY PEEPS!
  • Chapter Three – KNOW WHAT “MATTERS” and JUST DO IT!

What about YOURS?

  1. Well done! Keep up the good work, Tony. Thanks for sharing.

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