Motivation and Supervisory Leadership

Motivation plays a major role in education because it impacts teachers’ approaches to student learning and stimulates their growth and development. Motivated teachers express interest in new ideas, experiment with diverse methods, and express commitment to supporting struggling students and reaching performance goals (Zepeda, 2016). Supervisors are responsible for encouraging change and motivating teachers to develop professionally. The following discussion post will examine the author’s experience with professional development (PD) and explain why learning new strategies is essential for supervisors. Maslow’s and Herzberg’s theories will be used to interpret my experience with PD.

Motivation is important for the PD of educators due to its implications for teachers, students, and schools. Zepeda (2016) defines motivation as “the forces acting on or within an organism to initiate and direct behavior” and divides it into intrinsic (inner) and extrinsic (external) (p. 138). Thus, PD might be driven by an individual belief in the capacity to achieve specific goals (self-efficacy) or external factors, such as rewards, feedback, or cohesion. The research by Van Duzor (2011) reveals that PD can be transferred to the classroom when teachers adapt the materials responding to the student’s needs and regarding the constraints of the teaching context. Thus, PD allows teachers to use new knowledge in certain pedagogical contexts and motivates them to become active and reflective practitioners.

Motivation theories can be employed to explain the author’s experience with PD. Maslow’s theory of human motivation is based on the hierarchy of needs where basic survival is at the foundation of the pyramid and self-actualization is on top (Zepeda, 2016). During peer collaboration and Internet/literature research, I discovered that physiological needs are usually met in well-equipped modern classrooms/schools. However, the participation in PD networks and teacher conventions motivated me to learn inclusive and culturally competent curriculum planning strategies because empowering workplace environments that stimulate a sense of belonging are not always available. Additionally, the problems of self-esteem and intellectual achievement motivated my professional growth since routinized practice and standardized performance metrics complicate the recognition of experienced teachers. Therefore, PD raised my awareness of positive and creative leadership and encouraged me to adopt new strategies addressing teachers’ need for self-actualization.

Herzberg’s theory of motivations provides a different approach to PD and suggests that a worker’s satisfaction depends on internal and external factors. Teaching conferences on best educational practices motivated me to expand my knowledge and skills because the activities targeted internal motivators, such as autonomy in the classroom and a sense of achievement. External (hygiene) factors alone cannot motivate a teacher to reach their full potential, but they should be considered in PD (Zepeda, 2016). For instance, during professional workshops and peer observation, I realized how the lack of job security or inadequate salary could undermine my colleagues’ efforts to provide quality education. The experience helped me understand the benefits of my working environment and encouraged me to learn new strategies.

The discussion of PD activities and relevant motivation theories demonstrates that leadership strategies should be based on hands-on experience. Effective supervisors should empower teachers by addressing the issues observed during the PD process or by employing their skills and abilities developed/improved in the classroom. Participation in PD activities, which exposed the elements of both motivation theories, shaped my belief that self-direction and internal factors are essential for teachers of various grade levels and subject areas. Finally, PD helped me value professional growth and support creative supervision to understand teachers’ motivations and the constraints of their pedagogic contexts.


Van Duzor, A. G. (2011). Capitalizing on teacher expertise: Motivations for contemplating transfer from professional development to the classroom. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 20, 363–374. Web.

Zepeda, S. J. (2016). Instructional supervision: Applying tools and concepts (2nd ed.). Taylor & Francis.

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ChalkyPapers. 2023. "Motivation and Supervisory Leadership." September 2, 2023.

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ChalkyPapers. "Motivation and Supervisory Leadership." September 2, 2023.