A new survey has detailed nine of the top challenges facing teachers in the classroom. Among the top challenges are teacher shortages that lead to larger class sizes and "teaching toward the middle," schools being behind on implementing project-based and real-world learning approaches, and barriers (which include a lack of professional development) to meeting ed tech expectations.
Additional challenges include work hours that, for some, top 60 hours a week, as well as out-of-pocket materials expenses that climb as high as $1,000-per-year for some educators.
A number of the challenges identified for teachers in the classroom can be traced to some of the top issues administrators are dealing with. The trouble that districts in many states are having when it comes to filling vacant teacher positions, for example, is well-documented. A number have submitted ideas and strategies for closing these gaps in their ESSA plans, including with stronger recruitment efforts and higher pay. The relatively low salaries that come with the field in many locales have long been a deterrent, especially when enticing highly-skilled teachers to take jobs in smaller rural districts, and it didn't help that classroom educators have also frequently taken the blame when top-down mandates had less than stellar results.
ESSA plans may also further address many of the concerns around progress on the implementation of project-based and real-world learning approaches, as well as ed tech.
Other challenges, like exceedingly long work weeks, may be addressed if many of the tech products seeking to handle rote administrative tasks regularly performed by teachers are able to live up to their value propositions. And for materials expenses, schools and districts can also seek to raise funds from any number of third-party sources, including crowdsourcing, to mitigate the impact on teachers' wallets.
Here is the complete list of the nine challenges:
1. As a result of unfilled classroom positions, 39 percent of educators said they have larger class sizes, 32 percent said their school has high teacher turnover rates, and 23 percent said it results in more teaching “toward the middle.”
2. Twenty-nine percent of educators indicated their schools are just beginning to integrate project-based, real-world learning approaches.
3. But actual progress is lagging. Fewer than 40 percent of educators reported substantial efforts toward more flexible, project- and collaborative-based learning approaches that engage and empower students.
4. Some technologies are definitely on the rise, however–last year, data revealed that teachers’ use of game-based environments and online apps had doubled over six years.
5. School principals (84 percent) said they believe effectively using technology as part of instruction is a key part of student success, but said there are barriers to meeting those expectations…
6. …The top-cited barrier was lack of teacher training on how to properly integrate digital content within instruction, which 57 percent of surveyed principals identified as their biggest obstacle.
7. Teachers often only have resources for their own grade, but are challenged with meeting the needs of students who are ahead or behind their grade levels.
- More than 93 percent have students who are below grade level in their classrooms
- Eighty percent of teachers have students at least one grade level behind, 70 percent have students two grade levels behind, and more than one-third have students who are three grade levels behind
- Seventy percent of teachers have students at least one grade level ahead
8. When it comes to money for classrooms, teachers often have no choice but to use their own.
- Nearly one third of teachers spend more than $500 each year
- Nearly two-thirds spend more than $300
- 1 in 10 teachers spends over $1,000
9. As those in education know, a teacher’s day doesn’t end when students go home
- 15 percent work more than 60 hours a week
- 40 percent work between 50 and 60 hours a week
- 40 percent work between 40-50 hours a week
(Story via Education Dive and eSchool News)