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5 Things Your Teachers Want You To Know

Recruiting & Hiring

Can you believe it’s almost back to school time? As administrators work feverishly to get ready for another year, teachers are also gearing up for school — and in a recent survey, gave us some insight into challenges they expect in the 2013-2014 school year.

Do you know what challenges your teachers are facing and how you can help? We asked nearly 500 teachers what they find most challenging about lesson planning and material preparation for the classroom, and here’s what we found out.

Not Enough Time

Not surprising, 55% of respondents said they struggle with time to prepare lessons and materials for their classrooms.

Overwhelmingly, teachers said they do not have enough time during the day to prepare for lessons and often work in the evening and on weekends to get ready.

Stumbling blocks to lesson planning during the day included:
• Meetings
• Paperwork
• Grading
• Parent Communication
• Data Assessment
• Student Behavioral Issues
• Interruptions

As one teacher put it, “With more demands from state and district assessments and increased testing (hence grading), there never seems to be enough time to focus on planning and preparation.”

Specifically, teachers said they would like more time for differentiating lessons for different learning levels, collaborating with their team, researching and finding relevant materials.

Questions to Think About:
  • Are any teachers getting “burnt out” with lack of adequate planning time?
  • Do our teachers have uninterrupted planning periods during the school day?
  • Are unnecessary meetings pulling our teachers from their lesson planning?
  • Are we giving teachers flexibility to develop plans that meet the needs of students?

Varied Student Needs

Districts are increasingly focusing on meeting the needs of students at many different levels, and accordingly, 33% of teachers mentioned addressing varied student needs as one of their greatest challenges.

This area is challenging due to the extra preparation time required and also the lack of resources addressing each learning level.

Here’s how one teacher explained it: “I teach classes that are learning the same material, but are at different ability levels and filled with students with various learning styles. Trying to create lessons that meet the standards while meeting each student where they are can be difficult, but doable!”

Questions to Think About:
  • Are our teachers trained to address students at various learning levels?
  • Do our teachers have resources to help them differentiate lessons?
  • Do our classroom sizes allow teachers to effectively instruct all students?

Lack of Resources

A third of respondents also cited lack of resources as one of the most challenging aspects of preparing lessons.

One teacher explained she has trouble “finding materials that help my students understand the concept being taught,” adding that her students are usually learning below grade level.

The most common frustrations revealed that relevant materials were unavailable, too hard to find or too expensive. Many teachers said they also struggle to find resources that are aligned to district and state standards.

Questions to Think About:
  • Are we providing our teachers with adequate teaching materials?
  • Are our current resources aligned to mandated standards? 
  • Can we curate or recommend resources to aid our teachers in lesson preparation? 

Aligning With Standards

Out of the teachers surveyed, 21% struggle to address the many requirements of the Common Core, as well as district and state standards.

Problems included:

  • Feeling the need to “teach to the test”
  • Textbooks, assessments and curriculum don’t align
  • Losing time on too many assessments
  • Lack of flexibility in lesson planning

One frustrated teacher explained it this way: “Lesson planning in my district is not functional for the teacher. Rather, it is designed for principals to “keep tabs” on what teachers are doing in the classroom. It is more time consuming than it should be to write a district lesson than if I were to write one that would really help me as the classroom teacher.”

Questions to Think About:
  • Are our textbooks and assessments consistent with our curriculum framework?
  • Do we help teachers see the value in assessments and support them in this process?
  • Do our principals support teachers in creating relevant plans that align to standards?


Technology: we love it and we hate it. Most of the time, teachers love it but 17% said they struggle with technology in their classrooms. 

For some, technology is still too unavailable or unreliable.

“Some rooms have great technology set ups and some don’t,” one teacher said. “It makes it difficult to teach the same lesson to all my students fairly.”

Others don’t feel properly trained on new technologies.

“I feel overwhelmed by the inundation of technology and my ability to implement it effectively,” one teacher admitted.

Questions to Think About:
  • How can we prioritize updated technology for our classrooms?
  • Are our teachers adequately trained on new technologies?
  • How can we encourage teachers to use technology for lesson creation?
What other challenges do teachers face – and how is your district addressing them?

Allison Wert

Allison (Ali) Wert is the former Content Marketing Manager of the award-winning content team at Frontline Education. She has nearly 10 years' experience writing about education topics, including best practices for K-12 strategic human capital management. Under her leadership, the team at Frontline was recognized as the Winner of CMA's 2017 Project of the Year and Best Content Marketing Program.