Teachers want to develop themselves for their pupils

The desire to become better at helping and supporting pupils is the most important reason why teachers want to become involved in development work in schools.

Photo of a teacher in a classroom. “The teachers say that they mainly wish to develop themselves in respect of class management for the sake of their pupils. They also think that professional development is important,”, Ksenia Solheim says. Photo: iStock photo.

Teachers’ own perceptions about their motivation for developing their management skills in the classroom are now being investigated in a study conducted by the Norwegian Centre for Learning Environment at the University of Stavanger.

Managing a class comprises teachers' emotional support, classroom organisation, and instructional support of pupils, as well as support for developing good relationships between pupils.

Leadership in the classroom also comprises developing structures and routines in the classroom which will a create good, safe and predictable learning environment.

“The teachers say that they mainly wish to develop themselves in respect of class management for the sake of their pupils. They also think that professional development is important,” says Ksenia Solheim, who has published an academic article about the subject.

Desired development for the sake of pupils

In the study 76 primary school teachers were asked about their motivation in respect of developing their management of classes.

They all replied that they thought that self-development in this area was meaningful, and that it was beneficial for their pupils if they learnt more about the subject.

“A high percentage of the teachers reported that they focused on their pupils, and that this gave them the motivation to become more skilled so that they could help their pupils to develop. So, they wanted to develop themselves because they thought that their pupils could benefit from it,” says Ph.D. candidate Solheim.

One teacher explains this as follows: “I am motivated to learn about class management because in my experience good classroom interactions can have a great impact on pupil learning. It also helps to develop a good relationship with each individual pupil - something that is important for how they thrive at school.”

Developing oneself is motivating

The teachers in the study thought that it was important to obtain knowledge about the various aspects of class management. The teachers who wanted to develop themselves in this area had great faith in the fact that the teacher’s leadership in a classroom could and would be an arena for constant development.

A considerable number of the teachers also reported that their motivation to learn about class management was to develop their own skills and knowledge - in order to become better leaders and teachers.

One teacher involved in the study had the following to say about her own motivation:

“It is fantastic to have the opportunity to become a good role model for my pupils and to became someone who sees them and helps them. I think that it is motivating to develop myself as a teacher.”

“This study shows that the more knowledge teachers have about class management, the better the learning outcome for their pupils”, says Solheim.

Need more than motivation

The participants in the study described a good teacher as being a safe, predictable, positive adult who has control and who is aware of the choices he or she makes.

A good teacher is also someone who has a good relationship with their pupils, based on respect. Understanding these aspects of being present in the classroom - an area in which several of the teachers felt they lacked expertise - motivated many of them to develop their own knowledge about classroom management.

“The teachers were very interested in focusing on their pupils and thought that an efficient class was a class where their pupils were involved and attentive - and where they subsequently had a good feeling about having learnt something new. Learning about class management in order to improve pupil participation, learning processes and learning outcomes was important for the teachers,” says Solheim.

She thinks that it is a combination of all the aspects of class management which will ensure that teachers can reach new heights and improve the quality of the learning process. She believes that this study also shows that teachers need more than just motivation in order to learn about this.

“They need strategies and knowledge about how they can implement their new knowledge in practice,” says Ksenia Solheim.

Text: Maria Gilje Strand
Photo: iStock photo


Ksenia Solheim: Teachers’ Aspirations to Improve their Classroom Interaction. International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research, 2019.