Teacher Evaluation: WHY It Matters and HOW We Can Do Better
An in-depth look...
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 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:
• Parent Communication
• Data Assessment
• Student Behavioral Issues
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.
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!”
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.
Out of the teachers surveyed, 21% struggle to address the many requirements of the Common Core, as well as district and state standards.
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.”
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.