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6 tips for re-motivating yourself

Motivation Hibernation

Are you hiding under the metaphorical covers of teaching life? You have your diploma and now you are worried about bringing it out for a test drive? Do you feel you have lost sight of where you are going next?

Reawakening Interest: How to Motivate the Once Motivated Teacher?

I have been in the industry for six years. I’ve taught a range of levels, exam classes and ESP groups. I completed the DELTA in 2012. And my last adventure was a Leadership course, here with Oxford TEFL.
Yet, since finishing the DELTA and until I decided to take the leadership course I was in teaching limbo.

After the Diploma I experienced a huge come down. I had worked so hard for a year; focusing on so many different aspects of my teaching and my own personal development. I never stopped to think beyond it. Nothing had really changed in my day to day work, but I felt that I had. I felt frustrated and confused. I didn’t feel motivated anymore, just lost.

Daniel H. Pink talks about the challenges we set ourselves. I got busy with challenges –outside of work. I ran, swam and cycled my way around Ireland and amazed myself with how far I could push myself physically.

However, I stopped challenging myself in my work. I always had a niggling feeling that something had to change professionally, but I was busy ignoring the niggles – Until four weeks ago.

I started the online leadership course from Duncan. I could feel someone poking me with the motivation stick. Slowly I opened my eyes and started reading again. Then I read some more. Then I started getting ideas – ‘notions’ as we would say in Ireland. Perhaps I could do this, maybe I could try that, this might work in our staff room, the teachers might benefit from this idea. The slumbering mentally pro-active person woke up!

I don’t feel frustrated anymore. I feel energised.

Stephen Covey talks about lessons in personal change. I think in order to change you need to want to change. You need a moment when you decide to try again. You need to be inspired. You need to want to wake up.

So, here are some tips that might ignite that spark of motivation. That may get the juices of challenge flowing:

6 tips for re-motivating yourself

1. Do a course!

Find an area of ELT that you are interested in and go for it. What to become a DoS – do a leadership course or a course in academic management. Are you interested in working in writing? Find a materials writing course. Do you feel there is an area you need to brush up on? Do that! Find a pronunciation course or a course in teaching exams.

2. Articles – read them. Or better still, get involved in writing them.

Take out a subscription to an ELT magazine and get reading. You will find that there are a lot of like minded people writing in these publications. And you may think, hey! I could do that too! Work on an idea, find a focus and get writing. Use your lessons to help guide you. What do you enjoy teaching most? What areas do your students enjoy most? Why? How are you help them?

3. Join groups of like minded people

Have you heard of any special interest groups (SIG) that you might be interested in? Contact them and get involved. If there are none out there that catch you fancy – start your own! Find some like minded colleagues and start something new and exciting yourselves.

4. Think laterally

A lot of us can be very busy looking upwards – we are thinking about ways to get that DoS or principal position. But there is so much more we can be doing. Think outside the box! Is there any online work you can get involved in? Is your school looking for content writers? Is there anything you can start yourself to help your career in the future? Stop dreaming about having the job you want. Be pro-active and create new ways of getting there.

5. Attend conferences

These are great places to meet others in the industry, gain ideas and have fun! Sharing ideas with people from outside your own school can help. Find out what others are doing in their schools. Conferences can open your eyes to what is cutting edge in the industry. Sometimes it is important to look beyond the confines of our own school walls.

6. Get involved in teacher development.

Could you host a series for teacher training sessions? How about setting up a mentoring system for new teachers? Is there a project you want to start in your own school that will help your workmates and help you build a community of development?

So, what’s my point?

Duncan Foord in his introduction to his book ‘The Developing Teacher’ describes three different imaginary examples of teachers – Eduardo, Elena and Jack – all different personalities, all at different stages of their career and feeling different types of motivation.

We all experience the ebb and flow of motivation within our own teaching career, but when motivation is low we need to first see, and then take the opportunities that come along to help us get back on track.

Our motivation is always there – sometimes it is just taking a nap.


  • Covey, Stephen (1989) The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Foord, Duncan (2009) The Developing Teacher
  • Pink, Daniel H (2009) The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us
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