Whether teaching second-graders or high school sophomores, educators today require specific skills and temperament to face the unique set of circumstances in the modern classroom..
In many schools across the U.S., teachers are having class-sizes expanded significantly to cope with budget cuts. Some teachers are seeing class sizes increase by five or more students each year. Class size increases have been as high as 40 students per classroom and are often linked to a more difficult learning environment for students.
Many public school teachers throughout the U.S. are feeling the education restrictions tied to testing requirements as well. The average U.S. student will take 112 required standardized tests between the ages of preschool and 12th grade, with eighth graders having the most testing required of them in a single year with more than 25 hours of testing. Obviously a burden on students to take and prepare for standardized tests for such a high percentage of their classroom time, the examinations can also weigh on and restrict teachers’ roles in education. Teachers have more narrow and specific curricula and less freedom to teach to specific classroom needs or interests.
For educators to thrive in the classroom and navigate these and other modern difficulties, teachers must have certain skills that their predecessors didn’t.
A Modern Teacher’s Challenge
Teachers need to face the unique difficulties of today’s classroom head on as well as look forward to new trends that are coming down the pipeline. In addition to standardized testing and growing class sizes, there are numerous other factors that educators must account for.
One of the biggest challenges for 21st century educators is the role of technology in the classroom. As technology grows as an influence to every day life, it’s important for teachers to educate students on the best ways to use digital resources on the web and through new devices. However, smartphones, the internet, and myriad apps can also present significant distractions in the classroom and divide student attention. Teaching students how to use technology optimally and appropriately is one of the most difficult parts of being a teacher today.
With the rise in classroom size there is also an increase in the diversity of students and their learning styles. For educators, using varied teaching methods to cover specified curricula and meet multiple learning styles is challenging, too. It’s important to reach kinesthetic and visual learners in a classroom, but it can also be taxing. Addressing specific learning styles is an ongoing challenge for teachers today as more is discovered about how children learn best.
Other challenges in today’s classroom include too much required material, too little time, scarce resources, finding effective lesson plan ideas, and teacher isolation.
A Teacher’s Toolbox
Learn more about 10 of the most important skills that teachers need in the classroom today. Each of these can help educators of any grade level teach better.
- Collaboration Online: Whether it’s creating and sharing a YouTube video of a classroom experiment or using another educator’s blog to teach the fundamentals of geometry, teachers can work together around the U.S. to teach more effectively and gain peer support.
- Adaptability: From changing an exercise for a larger classroom to changing lesson plans based on the new testing requirements, modern teachers need to be nimble to adapt to the ever-shifting education environment. This skill is critical for keeping up with new learning styles as well.
- Time Management: With teachers having to cover more materials and and take on more responsibility, it’s critical to use every minute efficiently. Planning for breaks as well as lessons can help classrooms stay on schedule consistently.
- Tech Fundamentals: Word processors, spreadsheets, and email may seem like the absolute basics of the digital age, but learning the ins and outs of these software can help save teachers time and allow easier organization. Learning how to search the web effectively is also great way for educators to find the best results.
- Patience: Patience has been critical for educators from the beginning of time, but it’s never been more important than in the hectic age today.
- Team Work: When class sizes are large and resources scarce, it’s important for teachers to work with each other. Educators throughout the school or across the web can work together to get better results in their own classrooms.
- Organization: Organizing everything from digital lesson plan files to physical classroom materials will always pay off in the long run.
- Creativity: Just because many schools have greater curriculum restrictions doesn’t mean that teachers can’t still have fun with it. Students will appreciate creative ways to prepare for their exams that meet multiple learning styles at once.
- Constant Learning: Teachers can use the numerous online resources for educators to stay up on the newest trends in their field.
- Healthy Parent Communication: With school websites, homework portals, and email, parents and teachers have a more open line of communication than ever before. Educators should be sure to have a plan with the school for healthy communication policies.
Refining Those Skills Every Year
Honing and developing these skills can help teachers stay at the forefront of their field and ensure optimal student experience. There are numerous ways for educators to improve these skills.
Some teachers turn to apps and internet resources to read about the newest trends and learn how to put them into practice themselves. Apps can allow teachers a hands-on approach to new teaching techniques, while the internet provides access to countless trade journals with new research.
Many educators keep their learning credentials updated and get ahead in their field through easy-access online education. At night or on weekends, teachers can study their speciality and earn degrees or certifications that can translate into real classroom innovation.