Session 334: Barriers to motivation

Thursday 22nd December 2016

In every educational establishment throughout the land, there are groups of students who – well – just don’t seem motivated to learn – it might be just in your subject; it might be because of outside influences; it might be your teaching style; it might be the boys; it might be the girls – let’s face it, it could be a number of factors for which you have little (or no) control. And what about your motivation? Now, there’s a completely different kettle of fish!

Following on from the online poll, for this final #UKEdChat session of 2016, we explored the barriers to motivation, asking participants what activities, resources or ideas implemented to get pupils actively engaged in their learning. Questions were:

  1. What barriers to motivation exist in your own school for (a) teachers, and (b) pupils?
  2. Is there a group of students, in your experience, who seem more difficult to motivate? How do you manage this?
  3. Is motivation for school and home life interlinked?
  4. Are barriers to professional motivation mainly external, or within yourself?
  5. Does professional motivation require specific goals?
  6. What are your top tips for overcoming barriers to motivation?



The topic of motivation and barriers to it could easily become negative as teachers approach the end of the winter term, yet the discussion proved to be inspiration as the participants identified the barriers they have to motivation and how to overcome them. The first question asked UKEdChatters to identify the barriers they felt were in place at they our schools for both staff and pupils. The answers were very varied, but some common themes were bad communication and feeling devalued by others in the school community, the break down of trust and creative freedom, and a lack of understanding. Interestingly, these points were made about both staff and pupils, so participants felt there is a lot of overlap in the barriers to motivation between the different players in school.

The second and third questions focused on unmotivated pupils and whether school and home life motivation is linked. It was suggested that the people around them, friends, family, school staff, all have a great impact to ‘normalise’ positive or negative motivation patterns. Another UKEdChatter commented that you believe people are generally motivated until something acts to quashed that energy, and cautioned not to be the one to quash it. It was also mentioned that motivation for some, especially boys, begins to drop off in key stage two. Participants commented that home and school life motivation is very much linked, in that when one is spiralling down the other will be affected.

The next question asked whether the barriers were internal or internal within the individual. Most UKEdChatters agreed that it is a complex issue and likely different for each individual. Once again, the participants stated that society and those around the individual play a large role, but most UKEdChatters seemed to agree that to the main barriers to self improvement is oneself. One chatter thought that the focus on the whole profession was one of blaming others and that change needs to begin within. Many spoke about the internal and external barriers eating on each other in an increasing cycle. It was also noted that health plays a role in well-being, and this translates into motivation.

The fifth question asked about if goals were necessary to motivation. Seemingly all UKEdChatters agreed that it was, but that even the best intentions can fail because of a range of factors, but time being the main one.

The last section of the discussion asked for UKEdChat participants’ tips for staying motivated and motivating others. These were generally broad, as it is difficult to be specific in 140 characters! Many people mentioned getting the priorities right, but there were a few different ideas for what the priorities should be. Participants tweeted about having happy pupils and and a good work/life balance. With the tips and ideas for this discussion, hopefully your pupils will be happier and you will strike the balance you need to keep you motivational levels high until the next UKEdChat.


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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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