According to some commentators, targets set by the international community for bringing education to all children in developing countries are threatened by a teacher motivation crisis. For this crisis to be addressed, challenges to the motivation of teachers in such contexts need to be understood from perspectives both theoretical and comparative. Thus an analysis is required of the changes that have taken place particularly in countries whose education systems have developed rapidly in recent decades. Case studies of motivated teacher behaviour in such national contexts might be of relevance to educational reformers. Drawing upon the tenets of self-determination theory (SDT), this article begins by discussing the nature of the reported teacher motivation crisis in the developing world more generally. It then focuses on the Sultanate of Oman, highlighting recent historical developments there. Having thus set the scene, the author considers the extent to which negative environmental influences on teacher motivation in Oman have been addressed and then looks for evidence of intrinsic motivation in case studies of Omani English teachers. Returning to the developing world more generally, conclusions focus on how teachers’ psychological needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness can be met through educational policies that reduce negative influences on teacher motivation and provide both inspiring professional development opportunities and work environments characterised by respect.