Universiteit Leiden

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School's out! But not for head teachers

Many head teachers will have to try and fill staffing gaps this summer. Assistant Professor Kim Stroet, who is researching pupil motivation, is worried about the teacher shortage in the Netherlands, but can see a development that may help solve it.

Every head teacher that Stroet has met recently has mentioned the teacher shortage. Over the last few months, she has spoken mainly to the primary school heads. She is researching how to motivate pupils, and is very concerned about the teacher shortage. ‘If you don’t have enough teachers or it’s a different teacher each time, this can harm the teacher-pupil relationship. Pupils then feel invisible and this is bad for their motivation.

More control makes the job more attractive

Stroet’s research has shown that pupil motivation increases if they are the owner of their learning process and feel as though they are understood. ‘The same applies to teachers. This could even be an important aspect of solving the teacher shortage: giving them as much control as possible of what they do and don’t do.’ 

Heads let teachers choose

This is exactly what Stroet has noticed in her meetings with head teachers: ‘If I ask if I can come and do some research, it’s usual for the head to consult first with the teachers who will be involved before giving me permission. What I’m noticing now is that heads are more likely only to give permission if the teachers themselves are willing to participate.’

Head teachers are therefore paying extra attention to teacher motivation, and quite rightly so: ‘Teaching must be made more attractive. Teachers already have a lot on their plate. Heads are trying not to add to this unless this is what the teachers want themselves.’

Do’s and don’ts of pupil motivation

At the Institute of Education and Child Studies, Stroet is looking at video footage of school classes. She wants to find the do’s and don’ts of pupil motivation. In our research dossier on Optimal Teaching, she explains that if you give pupils a chance to complain about a boring assignment, this sometimes works better than explaining once again why this assignment is so important.

Text: Rianne Lindhout
Photo: Wokandapix/Pixabay
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