Teachers and Students
The educational landscape of high school and college classrooms is drastically shifting as teachers and students face an increasing array of challenges in an ever-evolving digital world. New and experienced educators alike are struggling to meet the demands of the 21st century classroom, with an array of mental and other difficulties both new and old. This paper will provide an overview of the various difficulties faced by teachers, newcomers and experienced alike, as well as the difficulties faced by both traditional and nontraditional students. There will also be a special emphasis placed on mental health issues in this paper, as these are increasingly pervasive and much-needed topics in today’s educational environment.
One of the most ubiquitous challenges faced by both teachers and students alike worldwide is the need to pass tests that measure their knowledge of specific subject areas. Often these tests, known as “high-stakes tests”, are used as gatekeepers to determine whether or not students are certified to pursue college or vocations in certain fields. High-stakes testing places immense pressure on both students and teachers alike, leading to potential mental health ramifications. For teachers, these tests not only put pressure on them to ensure their students are able to measure up to the standards, but also to devise lesson plans and instructional practices that meet the demands that are placed upon them. This can cause a great amount of stress for many instructors, potentially leading to burnout and other mental stressors that can impede upon the quality of instruction and student learning.
For students, the pressure to pass these tests can be immense. Constant fears of failure, heightened competition with classmates and self-doubt can lead to immense levels of anxiety and depression. Furthermore, if students fail these tests, it can lead to significant financial costs for their families if they are unable to proceed to the next level of education. Despite the increasing prevalence of high-stakes tests, research has oftentimes found them to be poor predictors of future academic success and to not necessarily indicate whether or not a student is academically prepared for further education.
New Technologies in the Classroom
A second major challenge faced by teachers is the use of new technologies in the classroom. As technology becomes increasingly woven into the fabric of our lives, it has penetrated into the classroom, with instructors having to learn to incorporate it into their lesson plans in order to engage their students. Such technologies can be time-consuming to learn, and any changes in the platform can potentially disrupt instruction. Furthermore, due to the ever-shifting nature of technology, instructors can find themselves in a constant loop of needing to learn how to use different pieces of software and hardware in order to stay up to date. This can cause a significant amount of stress for many instructors that are in the role of teaching but are expected to keep up with technologies that constantly change.
For students, the use of technology has both its pros and cons. On the one hand, it can be a boon for student engagement and allow for more personalized learning experiences. Conversely, however, it can oftentimes lead to a great amount of distraction, as even a simple glance at one’s phone can cause students to devote their time and attention to activities other than those in the classroom. In addition, constantly being exposed to the modern day bombardment of content can cause a great deal of mental health distress, as students can oftentimes be bombarded with alarming headlines or upsetting images and videos.
A third major challenge faced by both teachers and students is the ever-present socioeconomic reality of their day-to-day lives. In the United States, it is no secret that certain socioeconomic factors can significantly impede upon the ability of many students to succeed. Research has found that low-income students are often underprepared for the challenges of the classroom, as they may not have access to the same technology, resources or level of instruction that affluent students do. In addition, poverty-stricken schools tend to serve as a repository for the most experienced and qualified teachers, as well as providing fewer enrichment activities and lesson plans due to budgetary restrictions. As a result, students not only can be limited in terms of their exposure to a quality education, but oftentimes can be required to work to contribute to the family income, further impeding upon their academic success.
For teachers, the issue of socioeconomic factors is just as pertinent, as oftentimes they are heavily reliant on access and ability to undertake a quality education. The ability to pay for college and additional educational requirements such as transportation and housing, for example, can be quite daunting for younger and struggling students. For those without family support, part-time work is the only way to at least partially cover these necessities, often resulting in the neglect of studies and other activities that can contribute to their growth and development.
The challenges faced by teachers, both old and new, top the list of difficulties that students and their educators need to navigate. New educators are expected to set the examples for their young charges, to be pioneers in their subject, to model the intangible qualities of a well-rounded educator, and be creative and innovative when preparing their lessons. All this can be intimidating for a new teacher who has never had the privilege of having peers and colleagues in the same field to look to for guidance, advice and wisdom.
Just as daunting are the financial impediments that teachers can encounter, as they must typically secure a second job to make ends meet, leaving them with much less time to deliver a quality education to their students. The other aspect of the equation is the bureaucracy associated with teacher evaluations and the increasing pressure to meet expectations. This could lead to a lack of motivation or possibly burnout in the teacher who feel that they are no longer able to make a difference, or feel their efforts are not truly appreciated or valued.
At the college level, the emotional and mental challenges can often be greater; students are more independent, facing more responsibility and a more intense workload, with decreasing interaction among peers due to all-consuming course requirements, leaving little time to socialize. This can lead to increased feelings of anxiety and isolation, leading to even further academic challenges. In such cases,college counseling services, both at the level of the college and of the student’s individual university, can be an invaluable aid in combating these issues, as well as providing an equal footing for those seeking support from outside organizations.
Mental health issues are also a major challenge, and can be exacerbated by the lack of understanding and support from family and friends. These issues can drastically impact performance in the classroom and in educational settings, resulting in a drop in grades or a turn to substance in an attempt to alleviate symptoms of a mental health disorder. Sadly, it is not uncommon for students to feel embarrassed or ashamed of their mental health issues, leading them to turn away from seeking the help they need.
Overall, there are numerous difficulties that students and teachers face, both in their educational pursuits and in their everyday lives. From financial struggles to emotional and mental health issues, the obstacles that must be overcome can seem insurmountable. However, with increased support from both the institutional and community levels, many of these issues can be successfully addressed. By helping to break down these barriers, we can create a brighter future for both dedicated teachers and their deserving students.
Most Rich People don’t understand the Working Class and vice-versa when it comes to needs.
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