Starting out as a teacher - motivational high or reality shock?

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Teaching in a school for the first time – being able to put into practice what they have learned over the years. Many student teachers are longing for this moment. But how long does this phase of euphoria last? The recently published study by Anna Hartl and Prof. Doris Holzberger shows that the motivation of young teachers changes after entering the teaching profession.

Rothaarige junge Lehrerin an der weißen Tafel, in der sich ihr Bild spiegelt
Bild: Unsplash/ThisisEngineering

Am I able to cope with difficult situations in my classroom? How enthusiastic am I about teaching in class? Self-efficacy and enthusiasm are essential for teacher motivation. In their recently published study, Anna Hartl and Prof. Doris Holzberger examined the extent to which the motivation of teachers changes, based on these two variables. 662 prospective teachers participated in the study from the end of their pre-service until two years after entering the teaching profession.

According to the results of the study, prospective teachers have different motivational levels towards the end of their pre-service training. About two thirds of the pre-service teachers are highly motivated with regard to self-efficacy and enthusiasm, a smaller part is moderately motivated, and hardly any pre-service teachers are not very motivated. Two years after entering the profession, however, we do not observe such large differences, and overall motivation settles at an average level.

Does this mean that the initial euphoria of prospective teachers is fading into a demotivating everyday professional life? – Not in general.

Instead, the study results show that teachers continue to develop from the end of the pre-service period until two years after entering the profession: self-efficacy with regard to classroom management and general enthusiasm for teaching decline. However, enthusiasm for one's own school subject increases over time. Support from colleagues hardly seems to matter in this context in terms of motivation. Basically, prospective teachers appear to have a high degree of general self-efficacy, e.g. with regard to innovative teaching methods.

So young teachers in the study generally seem to adapt well to their new challenges in the course of their career entry and do not lose their motivation after the end of the pre-service period. They do not seem to experience a reality shock" in terms of motivation.

Read the scientific article „Identifying teachers’ motivational profiles and their changes from teacher education into practice: A longitudinal study“.