4 Undeniable Challenges of Teaching Today
Any teacher will tell you that there are a lot of challenges of teaching. It tests not only the physical endurance of those who decide to teach but also the emotional and psychological fortitude of the individual. If you’ve discussed your plans with a family member or former teacher, you may have already been warned about the difficulties you might encounter. As an educator myself, I’d like to be honest with you about some of the challenges you may face as a teacher.
- Physical and Emotional Stress. Teaching can be very stressful and physically and emotionally taxing. You might be surprised when you realize how taxing teaching can be on the body, especially the legs and bladder. Teachers stand for a number of hours throughout the day. Physical stress is exacerbated by limited access to breaks.
Teaching is also very demanding emotionally. Sometimes students intentionally give their teachers a difficult time, which requires patience and understanding by the teacher as the adult and the professional. Even when teachers are not feeling well physically, the thought of being away from work can be emotionally stressful. Unlike corporate employees, who can simply call in sick and not worry too much about the effects of their absence, teachers have a difficult time taking days off, especially on short notice. Teachers who miss work have to prepare lessons for substitute teachers, which can take several hours. Considering how much time this takes, many teachers believe it is easier to forego the day off and teach their classes themselves.
- Teaching Is a Serious Profession with Serious Repercussions. When corporate employees make a mistake, they can usually fix the problem with time or money. However, teachers sometimes encounter problems that cannot be easily fixed. A child who goes home to an abusive parent, children who have been sexually abused on their way home, or a child going missing on field trips are all scenarios that teachers must be prepared to deal with. Many difficulties that students encounter are entirely beyond their teachers’ power to control, and although teachers may strongly desire to do so, they may be unable to make things better for their students.
Teachers themselves are not allowed to make too many mistakes. Parents are trusting teachers with not only their children’s education but also their children’s health and safety. So teachers must be very careful both inside and outside the classroom. For example, on field trips teachers must take extra precautions to ensure students’ safety. The extraordinary amount of responsibility that teachers have makes it a very challenging job, indeed.
- Work Outside the Classroom. A teacher has to work approximately 1 hour outside of class for every 2 hours in the classroom. This is not far from the national average. According to an NEA study, teachers devote an average of 52 working hours a week to their jobs. Roughly 37 hours are devoted to required tasks; however, at least 10 hours of work time per week are uncompensated. Teachers are in their classrooms 5 to 6 hours a day, but outside this time, they grade papers, take phone calls, receive e-mails from parents, and prepare lesson plans. The problems of the school day weigh heavily on the minds of teachers through the night and even during the weekends. In some cases, teachers never get a break from their job. For instance, during holiday breaks, teachers often spend their time thinking about new lesson plans or examining their teaching styles. Contrast teaching to other jobs: when office workers leave the office, they can usually stop worrying about what went on at the office. Many other professions allow for enjoyable, worry-free days off.
- Technologically Advanced Students. While young people are naturally attracted to the latest technologies, keeping pace with rapidly changing technology is difficult for some teachers. Understanding how to incorporate new technologies into teaching has become an important component of successful teaching. Students spend several hours a day using media. One study showed that the average student spends about 8.5 hours a day using some type of media, a minimum of 4 hours of which are spent watching TV and 50 minutes playing video games. In contrast, the average student spends only about 50 minutes doing homework. Today’s teachers must blend students’ eagerness to use technology with their need to learn content. Effective use of technologies, such as classroom management software, blogs, and interactive activities, are becoming increasingly necessary for teaching.
Those are just four out of many obstacles you might face on the job. Can you think of any challenges you might face as an aspiring teacher? For those of you who are teachers already, what other challenges would you like aspiring teachers to know?