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Motivating the Morim: Teachers Need Motivation, Too!
By Shira Moskowitz, ISJL Education Fellow
Everyone needs a little motivation, even our teachers. As Education Directors and fellow teachers, it is easy to forget that other teachers need motivation, even if they receive compensation for their work. There are many ways to keep our faculty and staff engaged and feeling appreciated. It is the simple act of saying thank you, giving them a gift during the holiday season, or hosting a teacher appreciation Shabbat. These acts require relatively little of us, but their impact is significant. When teachers feel appreciated they remain engaged in our religious schools, and they are more likely to continue teaching (and we all know how challenging it can be to find teachers!).
Another way to show your teachers that you appreciate them is by providing meaningful supervision. Checking-in with teachers reminds them that they are supported in their endeavor to provide students with Jewish Education. This commitment also shows teachers that their personal growth and professional development is important to you and the success of the religious school. If you have a larger staff, you can also pair teachers with a buddy so they can mentor each other.
A highly effective way to motivate teachers is to help them understand your expectations. The Education Department wrote a teacher training entitled “Understanding Expectations,” which we encourage you to bring to your community.
As we transition into the second half of the school year, this is a great time to re-evaluate what you require from your teachers, and this program will allow you to do just that. This teacher training begins with the Education Director passing out a list of expectations such as “arrive on time,” “fill out a post-class evaluation form,” or “come prepared for each lesson.” Next, have the teachers divide into small groups and assess why each of these expectations exists. Exploring the reasons why an instruction exists can help teachers understand why it is important for them to adhere to these rules and in turn will motivate them to meet your expectations.
Once the teachers complete this task, invite them to highlight the expectations as follows: yellow (an expectation they can meet with no problems), pink (one they can meet but need some assistance), and blue (an expectation that poses a real challenge for them). Once they have highlighted their sheet, they can work with a partner to come up with solutions for anything highlighted in pink or blue.
When you bring this list to life as a faculty, you help your teachers collaborate towards meeting their personal goals and communal expectations. If each person does their part and helps others out, your team will reach its highest potential, and your experiences as a faculty will be extremely positive. Encouraging your teachers to understand the reasoning behind the rules, will motivate them to meet these expectations.