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What are Teachers Biggest Challenges in 2014?

by Kelly Walsh on April 8, 2014

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First and Foremost on Teacher’s Minds – Getting Students to be More Self-Directed in Their Learning.

On Sunday we published the first part of our recent survey results. Today we wrap it up with a look at responses to a question I posed asking about your biggest challenges. This question was not just about technology, but your overall teaching challenges.

“My Biggest Challenges as a Teacher are …”

My overarching goal for my work here on EmergingEdTech is to help educators like you learn more about engaging students and improving learning outcomes through the use of technology as a tool. These survey results seem to indicate that readers like you are focused on these same goals, which is awesome! But I also think technology can play a role in helping with your other challenges, and I had that in mind as I composed the response choices for this question.

My Biggest Challenges as a Teacher are …

Biggest Challenges as a Teacher

As you can see, “Inspiring students to be more self-directed” and “Improving Learning Outcomes” were the leading choices, with the former standing out for a notably high percentage of “Strongly Agree” responses. Most of the other choices received pretty strong combined responses, with only the bottom two not getting a much weight.

I also broke these responses out into broad groups of younger grades (Elementary and Middle School) versus those with older students (High School and Higher Ed) out of curiosity, to see if there were any significant differences that jumped out. The top challenges remained the same (just switched in position), and “Understanding Changing Tech” remained at or near the bottom. The rest of the replies bounced around a bit.

The thing that probably struck me the most was that on average, Elementary and Middle School teachers seem to feel more challenged. This group selected responses “Agree” or “Strongly Agree” an average 76.7% of the time, versus a lower average response of 72.9% for HS and Higher Ed.

Other Responses

I have to assume that the survey hit the big issues pretty squarely in the response choices I offered, since there were not a lot of “Other” responses. There were only eight of these received, as follows (one was really unclear).

  • “Getting learners to try new ways, not just mechanize old habits”
  • “Getting online students to understand they need to know how to use technology prior to the course”
  • “Having time to explore deeply and use innovatively technology for teaching and learning”
  • “promote students’ learning discipline”
  • “Varied levels of comprehension, reading levels, and attention spans.”
  • “Working with limited technology budgets”
  • “working with TEACHERS on all of the above”

Thank you to everyone who took the time to note these, and to everyone who took the survey!

Conclusions

Getting students to be more self-directed in learning rose to the top as teachers’ biggest challenge, but things like improving learning outcomes, dealing with administrative work, and differentiating learning were not very far behind in priority. Of the response choices provided, only Limiting Distractions and Understanding Changing Technology fell well below the others, which isn’t too surprising for teachers who are online (they found and took the survey right?), and are working to stay up on tech. Teachers like these know that when you engage students, distractions just aren’t so distracting. It’s a pleasure serving educators like you!

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
How Digitally Enabled Educators are Using Technology and What They Want to Learn More About
Bringing Together Learning Science and Technology to Envision “Education 3.0”

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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