Yesterday I composed an article entitled “5 Stress Reduction Strategies for Teachers.”  It was written with the specific intent of helping teachers who may be feeling overwhelmed by the job, and looking for strategies to address their stress.  That being said, I was somewhat surprised when I received comments and emails which questioned what teachers had to be stressed about in the first place?  I always welcome the feedback from people on my blog posts as the blog is designed with the objective of being a learning tool for all.  Therefore, I was not insulted by the comments…far from it.  Instead, they reinforced one of my missions for writing this blog, namely, educating the public in general as to what teachers actually do, and why they need and deserve public support and respect.  This in turn helps this entire generation of students as they will be provided with a top level education by a satisfied and respected teaching force.  One of the methods used in achieving this mission is to clearly outline the many challenges which teachers face on a daily basis and work diligently to overcome.  I have composed some (not all by any means), of the main challenges teachers face in their job on a daily basis.

Lack of Funding/Resources:
There is little doubt that education funding has suffered greatly since the economic downturn in countries across the globe.  Even with an improving economy which has seen purse strings being opened up for many areas, such has not been the case for education.  In fact, in a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
“States’ new budgets are providing less per-pupil funding for kindergarten through 12th grade than they did six years ago — often far less.  The reduced levels reflect not only the lingering effects of the 2007-09 recession but also continued austerity in many states; indeed, despite some improvements in overall state revenues, schools in around a third of states are entering the new school year with less state funding than they had last year.  At a time when states and the nation are trying to produce workers with the skills to master new technologies and adapt to the complexities of a global economy, this decline in state educational investment is cause for concern.” (1)
Lack of proper funding by the government has a number of negative impacts.  Facilities begin to deteriorate, teaching resource spending is curtailed, less teachers are hired and consumable budgets are slashed.  Essentially, teachers are asked to achieve top level results with inadequate funds for tools and resources.  It gets so bad that teachers often draw from their own personal funds to properly equip their classrooms.
Emotional Turmoil:
Watching children grow and develop is the most rewarding part of teaching.  However, it is not always sunshine and roses.  In fact, as teachers we can often see some very sad cases with our students who experience significant loss, neglect or instability in their personal lives.  This can be heart wrenching to watch and it will fill a teacher with a feeling of emotional upheaval and helplessness.  Teachers care greatly for their students and want the best for them, when circumstances beyond our control make this near impossible to achieve, it can be devastating.
Lack of Time:
For most teachers I know, if you asked them what they need the most to do a great job, they would say time.  Indeed, they will often come to work with a carefully planned “to do list”, and by the end of the day that list remains virtually untouched.  What happened?  There are numerous demands made on a teacher’s time each and every day.  From planning lessons and units, meeting in professional learning teams, marking student work, performing administrative tasks, running extra-curricular clubs, meeting with parents and of course…teaching!  The demands really are endless. Also, since the vast majority of a teacher’s day is spent with the children (which is their favorite part of the job I may add), most of the other tasks have to be done during personal time.  The reality of the job is that everyday is different and the expectations are huge.  Despite the best of intentions, there just does not seem to ever be enough time to tackle that “to do” list and not only is this challenging, but it is frustrating and demoralizing at the same time.
Engaging the Students:
Awesome teachers want their students to learn!  In order to do that, they must differentiate their instruction and tailor it to meet the many diverse learning needs and preferences of the students.  These lessons need to be powerful and engaging as in this technology driven era, attention spans tend to wane much quicker.  True learning is all about student engagement.  Considering the sheer number of students, various needs, management and discipline concerns and the complexity of planning, this is beyond challenging for educators.  Nevertheless, they do rise to the challenge in order to provide the students with what they need.
Lack of Respect and Support:
Education is constantly changing…it is a dynamic entity.  It is also often under attack  as latest “trends” or “crises” appear on a somewhat regular basis. As with any profession there are areas which need improvement and we rely on our front line workers to implement them.  I would contend however that in education the front line workers, namely teachers and educational support workers, are consistently bashed in order to justify taking measures to fix the crisis of the day. In fact, there is an actual term called “teacher bashing” which is used quite often.  This is the polar opposite of what should happen.  Only by rewarding and encouraging our teachers can we hope to fix any ills which exist in the system.   Teachers are leading the charge to address these challenges and the politicians, parents and public in general need to work with the education system and not use the front line teachers as a scapegoat for the ills of societyTeaching is a very difficult profession and it is often cursed by the fact that everyone thinks they know how to do it better.  By validating, recognizing, respecting and celebrating our teachers and educational workers we can produce a better system for all.
I by no means have addressed all the challenges teachers typically face.  For instance, there are the issues of cyberbullying, scheduling, parent engagement, ever changing initiatives and self care.  However, I have included some top challenges which have far reaching effects upon teachers and the education system in general.  This article is not meant to be negative in nature.  Quite to the contrary in fact.  It is designed to outline the challenges which teachers face and overcome on a daily basis.  If this is not a lesson in positivity…then I simply do not know what is!
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