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Teaching is one of the most rewarding professions in that it gives you an opportunity to make an impact on a future generation. It is also extremely difficult and draining-no one with actual teaching experience would tell you otherwise. Being a teacher takes patience, dedication, passion, and the ability to do more with less. It is a treacherous journey often filled with just as many valleys as there are mountains. Those committed to the profession do so simply because they want to be difference makers. The following seven factors are some broader issues that make teaching challenging and hard.
Disruptions occur in many external and internal forms. Students and teachers have lives outside the walls of the school. Situations commonly occur that serve as a distraction. These external obstacles are often difficult and sometimes nearly impossible to ignore and overcome. Internally, issues such as student discipline problems, student assemblies, extra-curricular activities, and even announcements interrupt the flow of the school day.
These are only some of the many issues that serve as a disruption for teachers and students. The fact is that any disruption will take away valuable instructional time and negatively impact student learning in some form. Teachers must be adept at handling disruptions quickly and getting their students back on task as soon as possible.
Expectations In Flux
The rules of teaching are constantly changing. In some aspects, this is good while occasionally it may also be bad. Teaching is not immune to fads. The next great thing will be introduced tomorrow and obsolete by weeks' end. It is an ever revolving door for teachers. When things are always changing, you leave very little room for any stability.
This lack of stability creates nervousness, uncertainty, and an assurance that our students are being cheated in some aspect of their education. Education requires stability to maximize effectiveness. Our teachers and our students would benefit from it greatly. Sadly, we live in a time of flux. Teachers must find a way to bring some stability to the classroom to give their students an opportunity to be successful.
There is a perception that teachers only work from 8-3 each day. This is the time they actually spend with their students. Any teacher will tell you that this only represents a portion of what is required of them. Teachers often arrive early and stay late. They must grade and record papers, collaborate with other teachers, plan and prepare for the next day's activities or lessons, attend faculty or committee meetings, clean and organize their classrooms, and communicate with family members.
Many teachers continue to work on these things even after they go home. It can be difficult to find a balance between their personal life and their professional life. Great teachers invest a tremendous amount of time outside of the time spent with their students. They understand that all these things have a significant impact on student learning. However, teachers must commit to stepping away from their teaching responsibilities from time to time so that their personal life does not suffer in some aspect.
Individuality of Students
Every student is different. They have their own unique personalities, interests, abilities, and needs. Gauging these differences can be extremely difficult. In the past, teachers have taught to the middle of their class. This practice did a disservice to those students with higher and lower abilities. Most teachers now find a way to differentiate and accommodate every student according to their own individual needs. Doing so benefits the students, but it comes at a price for the teacher. It is a difficult and time-consuming task. Teachers must be adept at utilizing data and observations, finding the appropriate resources, and meeting every student where they are.
Lack of Resources
School funding impacts students learning in several areas. Underfunded schools have overcrowded classrooms and outdated technology and textbooks. They are understaffed with many administrators and teachers taking on dual roles to save money. Programs that may benefit students, but are not required are the first to be cut. Students lose out on opportunities when schools are underfunded. Teachers must become adept at doing more with less. Most teachers unselfishly spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets to purchase supplies and materials for their classrooms. A teacher's effectiveness cannot help but be limited when they are not afforded the necessary resources to do their job effectively.
Time Is Limited
A teacher's time is precious. As alluded to above, there is a difference between the time we spend with the students and the time we spend preparing for our students. Neither is sufficient. Teachers must maximize the time they have with their students. Every minute with them should matter. One of the hardest aspects of teaching is that you only have them for a short period of time to prepare them for the next level. You do the best you can when you have them, but in the scope of things, you have only a small amount to give them what they need. No teacher feels like they ever have enough time to accomplish everything that they needed or wanted to.
Varying Levels of Parental Involvement
Parental involvement is one of the greatest indicators of academic success for students. Those students whose parents teach their children from an early age that learning is valuable and stay involved throughout school give their children a greater opportunity to be successful. Most parents want what is best for their children, but they may not know how to be involved with their child's education. This is another obstacle that teachers must hurdle. Teachers must take an active role in giving parents the opportunity to be involved. They must be direct with parents and engage them in discussions about the role they play in their child's education. Furthermore, they must give them the opportunity to be involved on a regular basis.