• Putting the Kids at the Center Focus: Teacher Motivation Throughout Professional Learning

      Rees, Stephanie Ann; Tift College of Education
      Despite the fact that professional learning is the main means for maintaining quality educators and improving school instruction, professional learning does not guarantee teacher implementation of professional learning or increased student achievement. The inconsistency reflects the complexity of implementing professional learning with teachers that have different professional learning needs and preferences for professional learning. Because professional learning is a regular expectation for educators, instructional leaders need to implement professional learning that reflects the professional learning needs and supports the well-being of educators. This qualitative phenomenological study explored how teachers experience motivation throughout professional learning to engage and implement professional learning. Participants included five high school teachers who represent a diversity of content-areas, genders, and years of experience. Data included observations of the monthly professional learning sessions and follow-up interviews for each professional learning session. Data were analyzed using a recursive qualitative approach to regularly reflect on data and draw conclusions. The results revealed that teachers experienced increased and decreased motivation at various times throughout professional learning. Teachers identify their needs for professional learning. Teachers then select and engage professional learning that reflects those needs. Finally, the design of the professional learning supports teachers plans to implement professional learning in their classrooms. Student needs and feedback guided teachers’ decisions regarding professional learning. Recommendations for current practice include incorporating personalized professional learning because not all teachers learn in the same manner. Recommendations for future research include quantitative and qualitative research on how personalized professional learning and autonomy-supportive leadership support teachers’ motivation and well-being throughout professional learning and encourage student achievement.