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Being A Teacher: Concerns, Needs and What’s Lacking

[Tweet “What are your 3 biggest concerns with being a teacher?”] This was one of the questions I asked you about a month ago in a teaching survey I conducted.…

[Tweet “What are your 3 biggest concerns with being a teacher?”]

Being A Teacher: Concerns, Needs and What's Lacking | topnotchteaching.comThis was one of the questions I asked you about a month ago in a teaching survey I conducted. If you completed the survey…thanks so much.

I conducted the survey as I’m interested in global educational issues and concerns faced by teachers. I used the survey results for my own personal research and also as a way to help me determine what your concerns and needs are so that I can tailor my blog posts to hopefully help.

I have now had a chance to look at your responses and summarise all of the data that I collected. I thought you would also be interested to find out what teachers from around the globe find concerning with being a teacher so I’m going to share some of the results with you.

To collect your responses I used the free survey tool, Wufoo. With the free version I was able to accept 100 survey responses. I filled this quota in about 24hours. I was quite astounded with the quick response and thank you if you helped spread the word about the survey.

There were responses from a number of different countries, but the majority came from the United States and Australia. Below summarises where the responses came from.

  • United States 77%
  • Australia 11%
  • Canada 2%
  • Sweden 2%
  • New Zealand 1%
  • Switzerland 1%
  • Other 6%

The three questions I asked included:

  1. What are your 3 biggest concerns with being a teacher?
  2. What are 3 needs you have as a teacher that are not being met?
  3. What do you think is lacking in the current education system?

Some time was spent reading through all of your responses and coding your answers into the major themes/topics. For the first question, 21 themes were identified, question 2 identified 23 themes and the final question had 25 themes identified.

I’ll share with you the top 4-5 recurring themes for each of the questions.

Question One – What are your 3 biggest concerns with being a teacher?

30% of you agreed that one of the biggest concerns with being a teacher was time/time management. I think the responses below sum up how many of you felt about managing your time as a teacher:

“Time… time to plan, time to get paperwork done, time to get everything done… and time for my family. I never seem to have enough.”

“Is it even possible to have personal time when I have to spend my conference/planning period doing everything but planning and so I have to do it all at home?”

“Having more to teach in less time.”

The other major concerns that many of you agreed on included:

  • Not being able to help every child reach his/her potential;
  • Low parent involvement / problem parents; and
  • Too much testing / focus on testing.

Question Two – What are 3 needs you have as a teacher that are not being met?

There were 2 responses mentioned the most for this question, which included: staff development / professional development (43% agreed) and not having enough funding for supplies / materials / resources (42% agreed). I was quite surprised that lack of funding was one of the top responses as a need not being met. To me this is a real worry if we’re not supplying our teachers with the simple tools and supplies they need in order to do their jobs. Some of your responses included:

“Staff development monies have been cut so we are not able to attend conferences any more.”

“More training opportunities for new technology and new teaching styles.”

“Training and professional development. Currently we are not allowed to do PD’s in school hours, we must make up our 20 hours of PD/year in our own time after school hours.”

“Lack of funding for classroom supplies.”

“Basic supplies – copy paper, tape, office materials, etc.”

“Money — many students don’t have supplies. I purchase school supply sets as well as the vast majority of the materials we use in our classroom. Unfortunately, money doesn’t grow on trees!”

The other needs that teachers have and that are not being met included:

  • More time;
  • Classroom assistance; and
  • Administrative support.

Question Three – What do you think is lacking in the current education system?

The top response for this question, with 25% of you agreeing, was: freedom to teach what children need / more teachers in leadership positions to make political decisions. The other top response for this question was balanced evaluation / too much focus on testing (23% agreed). These responses are no real surprise to me, from what I’ve been reading on Twitter and Facebook it seems there is consensus among teachers that these are big educational issues.

Some of the responses included:

“What I think is lacking in the current education system is the knowledge of people to know what needs to be done for the children. We have the govt making laws for us that have never stepped in a classroom telling us what to do or what not to do.”

“Leadership on the state and national level. Our state department is ran by business leaders not educators. Sometimes ideas might work fine with industry but I’m not making cars all alike, I’m teaching very different children.”

“Creating innovators among our students rather than focusing on getting top grades.”

“Teacher support and in some areas society is more interested in numbers on a score versus a student’s growth academically and socially!!”

“This “common assessment” is ridiculous. I can quickly perform formative assessments on my students without a paper/pencil worksheet. We should be working on skills and letting the teacher decide on strategies.”

“I think there is too much emphasis on the “test” and not enough emphasis on what actually matters. Are our students learning? How do we know? What do we do if they aren’t and how can we better equip our teachers.”

Other responses for this question included:

  • Proper money disbursement / resources;
  • Support; and
  • Respect / recognition.

Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts and ideas with me so candidly. I have definitely been pondering all of your responses…..and also wondering what a little ole blogger and teacher like me can do to help some of you overcome these issues and concerns?? At the moment I’m not sure… but I will continue to think about what you have shared with me and work on helping you in any way that I can. Wouldn’t it be great if I could send all of your responses to the governments in each of your respective countries….I wonder if it would make any difference???

If you didn’t get a chance to complete the survey and would like to share your thoughts to any of the questions, then by all means please leave your responses in the comments below.

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  1. Kris

    If a teacher didn’t agree with your findings I would say they don’t teach in a class or school, or haven’t for so long they have forgotten. The findings are discouraging, but even more discouraging is that there are no solutions listed that we as teachers can rely on to solve this widespread dilemma.

    • Melinda

      Hi Kris,

      Yes I do agree that some of the results are very discouraging….but I also believe that many of the issues highlighted are global and that involve not only teachers, but communities, administrators and governments…..

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment

  2. Ben @ Kites in the Classroom

    Love the research here Melinda!

    Now that you have some answers to the open ended questions do you think you might try to delve further with your findings (i.e. use a bigger sample) using a multiple choice survey?

    Though the results may be discouraging, there is a silver lining … that other teachers feel the same way and are on board for change.

    I saw an excellent TED talk the other day that addresses how importance of disagreement:

    Towards the end of the talk she mentions an organization where one of the staff members was afraid to speak up for years, because he thought his thoughts lay on the fringe. When he finally did speak up, he discovered that his many others in the organization were having the same concern. Anyway, I’m saying it’s kind of empowering to see that teachers have the same concern. It makes us more powerful.

    Keep being awesome!

    • Melinda

      Hey Ben,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to reply 🙂

      To be honest, I haven’t really thought too much about how I can extend the research further, but you’ve now given me some more ideas, which may be worth following up. Yes I agree with you, that there is some comfort in that many teachers are feeling the same things and that they are open to change…

      Thanks for the link to the TED talk I’ll check it out….and I think you highlight an important point in that at times teaching can be quite isolating and it can be difficult to speak out about an issue, but generally other teachers feel the same and it takes only one person to be the instigator of change.

      Thanks again for your thoughts, they’re very much appreciated.

  3. Luqman Michel

    Dear Mel,
    You said: “….it takes only one person to be the instigator of change.” I believe that and that is why I am continuing with my quest.

    With regard to question 3 – What is lagging in the current education system?
    I believe that you have an answer to this question now. Many teachers are not being taught how to teach so that all the kids will be able to learn effectively.

    As I have written in my blog since 2010 a majority of kids who leave school as illiterates are kids who had disengaged themselves from learning.

    Now that you have personally taught some of such kids I believe you will agree with me. Phonemes of letters are not taught properly and children prone to shutting-down disengage because of this.


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