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6 Solutions to the Most Common Teacher Problems...

Last week we had our third professional development day at Seckman High School. As a PD representative, I had the opportunity to lead two PD sessions. The format of my sessions was to watch 7 videos that would hopefully spur a lively educational discussion. Teachers were in groups and were asked to document their discussions by using Google Docs: (session 1 and session 2).

I used the time during the sessions to go from group to group listening and contributing to the discussions. The discussions were focused and productive. We are making some great strides as a staff and I am looking forward to our fourth and final PD day of the year. During the discussions I couldn't help but notice the 6 concerns that kept coming up over and over again. These 6 concerns must be resolved if we are to continue growing and developing as a staff...

Time - not enough of it...

Students - too many...

Technology and new ideas - afraid and scared to implement...

Conflict - departmental strife...

Resources - not enough to go around...

Curriculum / administrators - added pressure preventing any real change...

Here are my solutions to the problems...

Time - not enough of it...
We are all busy...that is the default, but that does not mean we can't explore and try new ideas. With the ability to connect with educators from around the world at the click of the mouse through Twitter, we have a 24/7 group of educators who are willing to help and support (both through ideas and feedback). Two questions I always ask myself are...am I being the kind of teacher I would want for my own kids, and am I taking enough time to explore and learn new ways of teaching that will improve my instructional practices? If I can't answer yes to both of these questions then I need to get to work. New ideas and initiatives almost always take more time and patience, but if in the end they increase student learning and engagement...isn't it worth it...?

Students - too many...
With most class sizes on the rise this will continue to be a legitimate concern. Over the last couple of years I have really tried to build leadership in the classroom. What I mean by this is empowering and tapping into the strengths of some of our best kids. 25 students in one class can be problematic at times, but when you have 3 or 4 students who are basically a younger version of you helping to lead and guide the other students, it quickly becomes much more manageable. Additionally, those 3 or 4 superstars are gaining great experience in leading, while the other students will benefit from getting more one-on-one time with you...    

Technology and new ideas - afraid and scared to implement...
Trying something new can be scary, and it is completely understandable when a teacher says he/she is afraid to do something different. We all have our comfort zones and coping mechanisms, however it is the teachers who are able to overcome these fears who will really prosper. The inherent nature of an educator is to teach and share knowledge, and as such we should be using those educators around us. Don't be afraid to ask them for help...for guidance...for advice...most WILL be willing to help! I always tell myself before trying something new in my classroom...the worst thing that can happen to me is that I will learn how to do it better next time. If learning is the worst thing that can happen, then I'm okay with that...  

Conflict - departmental strife...
There is always the potential for a difference in opinions when working with others, and contrary to belief a healthy disagreement is not always a bad thing. When teachers in a department disagree about something, we need to remember that they feel what they are doing is best for their students. I refuse to believe that teachers are employing educational practices they believe to be detrimental to student learning. A difference in opinion is just that, a difference in opinion. Whether it be a minor difference, or a philosophical difference, we all want to do what is best for our students. Listen to what your colleagues have to say and allow them to explain why they do what they do. Nobody is forcing us do things exactly like somebody else, and by listening and collaborating with others we can all improve through self-reflection...

Resources - not enough to go around...
We all know budgets are being cut, and the lack of funds available will likely force educators to become more frugal and innovative in their ways. On the surface a lack of funds is a bad thing, but when we are forced to find new and alternative methods that are frankly cheaper and more accessible, the opportunities are limitless. Technology is opening more doors than we can go through, and because most new online technology is free, educators are positioned to take advantage of these opportunities. Expand the realm of the typical resources and take advantage of the new resources that are becoming available at a reduced cost. Even better, the new resources becoming available have an even greater level of applicability across content areas...

Curriculum / administrators - added pressure preventing any real change...
When teachers feel as if they can't breathe because of curricular / administrative pressures, they will ultimately lose the fire and passion that pushed them into education. Because we (for the most part) can't control these outside influences, we need to put on our creative hats. Sure, there are things we might not be too excited about...there are concepts we might feel aren't that necessary...there are mandates that we might not believe in...but more times than not we have a say in how things are played out. When we are told something needs to be done or covered, we determine in what way it is done or covered. Take this opportunity to do something of which you are not fond, and do it in a way that interests you and your students. It is all about perspective, and George Couros said it best in one of his most recent posts, "What do you see?"

What solutions would you add...?

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Tags: and, collaboration, communication, development, growth, improvement, professional, school, teacher

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Comment by John on April 12, 2012 at 1:26pm

really informative............boost my energy level

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