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10 Surprising Difficulties in Teaching (For Me)

Posted by Emily Guthrie on Dec 10, 2013 7:56:51 AM

When I went through the teacher education program, I was sure that curriculum differentiation in all its many forms would be the most difficult thing about teaching.  Now that I am 10 years in, I’m still inundated with differentiation challenges every single day, but when I reflect on those fledgling days of my career, I see that some of my biggest struggles were not even on my radar.  Below are my 10 most surprising difficulties in teaching.  Leave a comment with your most surprising challenge or your solution to any of my issues!   I plan to tackle my solutions for each of the following challenges in upcoming blog posts, so I’d love to try out some ideas that you may have and write about how they worked for me!

The struggle is real!  Surprising difficulties as a teacher

  1. Absent work: I feel like I’ve tried every system out there to organize absent work.  I’ve made folders and calendars and online resources and office hours to name a few.  No matter what, it is difficult to deal with the multitude of absences that my high school students rack up with illness, sporting events, school activities, college visits, and everything else!  Even with flipping the classroom (occasionally), the bottom line is that every absence makes more work for me.
  2. Meetings: I knew I’d have to go to meetings, but I was not prepared for how said meetings would make me feel.  A well-run meeting leaves me empowered and energized while a meeting that wastes any of my precious teacher minutes leaves me enraged.  When did I give meetings that much control?
  3. Essay Grading: Of course I expected to grade essays, but the sheer number of papers flying at me from 5 full classes is always overwhelming.  I’ve developed some systems of feedback and due date staggering that save me time, but I’d like to think that writing effectively is the single most important thing that students take from my class, so I trudge on with paper after paper.
  4. Getting Students to Read:  With all of the shortcuts, summaries, movies, and twitter mentality out there, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get a majority of any given class to actually read a book.
  5. Parent phone calls:  I can email and face-to-face conference all day, but I am the most awkward phone caller of all time.  I didn’t know this about myself until I had to start making the dreaded progress report phone calls.
  6. Multiple Preps: I’ve taught 3 or 4 different classes every year of my career.  Part of the challenge is time to prep, but another part of the challenge is switching gears during any given day.  Much to my chagrin, I often find myself saying things like, “Let’s continue our discussion of The Scarlet Letter, I mean The Odyssey, I mean Frankenstein!”
  7. Weekend/Night Hours: Every year I think, “Once I get this prepped, next year will get easier and I’ll have less night/weekend hours.”  I’m sorry to say, but even in year 10, that day has not dawned.  Thank God for Simply Novel handling a chunk of my prep, now if I could find someone to grade, answer emails, organize projects, and the like…
  8. Catching cheaters: I absolutely hate that I devote any part of my brain to catching cheaters.   Sadly, I have to do it, especially with technology changes, which give students unprecedented opportunities to game my class.  Ugh.
  9. The Lunch Table: I have the best co-workers.  For the most part they inspire me and challenge me to do better.  However, we all have our bad days and when we do, the teacher lunch table can get down right ugly.  Hell hath no fury like a high school teacher scorned.
  10. The Quick Breaks: There is something very disheartening about eating my cold, leftover meatloaf while I stand up at lunch supervision or running full speed across campus to make it to the adult restroom in the 5 minute passing period.

What are the surprising challenges in your teaching career?  Have any advice for me?  Leave it below and be sure to check back for posts on how I handle (or try to handle) these obstacles!SmartFlip Common Core Reference Guides

Topics: challenges, Classroom Management, teacher problems, tips

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