Here we go—off to another year! We’ve got the bulletin boards up, pencils sharpened, desks arranged, nametags labeled, and we feel well-rested after the summer break. We come into each year with a renewed sense of energy, ready to tackle all of the challenges that come our way. Here are the top five challenges we commonly face in the classroom as teachers:
- Too Many Masters: Teachers are the definition of the middle man—stuck in between parents, students, administrators, etc.—and they don’t always get what they need from each group. From parent conflicts or an unsupportive administrator to a lack of state funding, teachers often feel underappreciated. Not having the support we need makes it hard to feel successful in the classroom. Lack of state funding can lead to aide positions being cut, not enough resources for the classroom, larger class sizes, and, of course, no raises. The school board and district make the primary decisions as to where and when money is allocated. Often times, these decisions are made without fully understanding the impact on students. In addition to this, varying degrees of parental support can add to our daily stress. From the deeply involved helicopter parents to the ones we see only on the first and last day, it can be a balancing act. Sprinkle in an administrator who doesn’t fully understand, and our jobs can be even more difficult.
- Budget Constraints: Teachers don’t generally go into their profession for the money, and tight budgets often leave them reaching into their own pockets to pay for extra items for the classroom. Just one click on Pinterest and we’ve got all kinds of new ideas and things to buy to make our classrooms cute, fun, and exciting. Not to mention, student birthdays, holiday gifts, storage containers, and extra classroom supplies usually leave us spending even more. And sometimes, because our teacher hearts are so big, we may buy a family in need a meal or a coat. No matter which step on the pay scale you fall on, it is always a relief when payday rolls around before the next out-of-pocket expense comes along.
- Time: Oh, time—curse you! There is never enough of it. Not enough time in the day to go in depth with any given lesson because we have to keep the pace to make sure we fit all those standards in for the day, the month, and the year. Instead of taking things off our plates, it seems there are always things we continue to add—new math curriculum to learn, new apps for the iPad to download, extra reading resources to implement, etc. And let’s not forget that we are doing all this while trying to prepare our students for state testing, which always seems to be right around the corner!
- Student Needs: Walk into any classroom on any day and you will see a room full of different needs: the high student, the low student, the ELL student, the special needs student, and the student with behaviorial issues. And we have to accommodate those needs every single day. Making sure those needs are met and students are learning at their level is indeed a challenge. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed while trying to provide remediation for the low student, challenging work for the high student, and extra language support for the ELL student—all while making sure student behaviors are in check.
- Teacher Burn-Out: After reading all of these challenges, it’s no wonder teachers can often feel burnt out! Feeling overworked, underpaid, unsupported, and not having enough time can make a teacher feel stressed out. We work our 8-hour day, stay late to clean up and/or prepare for the next day, bring home papers to grade, grab a bite for dinner, maybe watch an episode or two of Game of Thrones, then collapse from complete exhaustion—only to wake up and do it all over again. This can wear down even the most energetic teacher. Once this stress and pressure takes its toll, it’s only a matter of time before it trickles down into the classroom and affects our students.
All of these challenges sound a bit depressing and exhausting, but the truth is, every job has its challenges. Rather than spending time focusing on these challenges, think of those students we are serving. Those adorable, eager, bright-eyed students wanting to learn, wanting us to show them, teach them, and love them. Yes, teaching has its challenges, which we face and conquer every day, but the rewards are far superior to the challenges we face. We get to make the world a better place, one student at a time. So, keep your chin up and power on, you amazing teacher, you!
Stay tuned for next week’s follow-up article, where we will discuss the top ways to address these challenges. Be sure to subscribe to the Mimio Educator blog today to be notified as soon as it’s published!