Five Prominent Challenges Faced by Teachers in 21 st Century

Aug 23, 2018

Education has evolved and progressed in the recent years, bringing in different notions of learning, classrooms, curriculum, pedagogies, learner profiles and the overall system, aimed at catering better and effective learning to students, eventually resulting in success that lasts beyond the walls of the school. Learning is no more restricted to the age old class room lecture strategy. Students and parents, expect much more in this digital era where “holistic education” is not just a trending term, but the new norm. Learning has expanded to students exploring the realms of their minds, and the boundaries it can push. Teachers are expected to look beyond the ordinary, and adapt different styles of pedagogy, that don’t just appease students, but imbibe various intellectual, psychological and social skills. Parents are more involved in their students’ learning journeys, and rightly demand the worth for their money, when it comes to their children’s education.

With changing learning environment and expectations – teachers, who are often the first face of education in classrooms, are expected to pace up too. The challenges they faced in the last few decades, have also changed on par with the changes in the education system. Here’s a look at a few challenges faced by teachers in the 21st century.

1. Personalisation

The age old “one size fits all” teaching method has long outgrown, with the focus moving on to different styles of learners. Students are no longer forced to learn beyond their own understanding. Instead, teaching is adjusted to help students understand, according to their learning styles. Teachers are now expected to personalize their teaching methodologies and assessments, depending on the learning styles of students, laying the foundation for student-centred learning. Various learning styles clubbed together, with fixed periods of time, can make personalisation challenging.

Tip to deal with the challenge: To make personalisation less daunting and challenging, teachers must make clear identification of learning styles through real time observation, and assessments – psychological and general. Right assessment, followed by planning and prioritizing learning plans, would simplify personalisation, and guarantee effective implementation.

2. Making the Right Use of Technology

Digital induction in education goes far beyond merely bringing a computer into the classroom, or giving digital homework. Digitalization in classrooms extends to more intrinsic adaptations such as flipped learning, mobile learning, AI based decision making, data management, e-learning, visual learning, animations, digital assessments, record keeping etc. Teachers may also get overwhelmed, trying to curate content from varied sources of information, and keeping a track of students’ learning who may depend on carious digital sources.

Tip to deal with the challenge: Plan your strategy well in advance. Have a clear picture of your goals for the year, and decide which form of digitalisation may best meet student needs. Take the help of EdTech platforms to make your job easier, and to get a precise picture of your students’ profiles and relevant approaches.

3. Classroom Management

Classroom management is often misunderstood to be as simple as keeping the class in control. In reality however, teachers are required to ensure that their teaching strategies keep students of different learning styles and behaviours, from getting distracted, and that they are organized, attentive, focused, and interested in the classroom, and are indeed learning, and not merely listening in a class. Changing learning strategies also change the dynamics of a classroom, making classroom management more challenging than before. Students aren’t just passive listeners anymore. They expect to be an active participant, and need to feel important and respected in the class.

Tip to deal with the challenge: Effective classroom management requires patience, planning, and perspective. Do not brush off your students’ views and opinions. Make them feel heard and understood. Notice and appreciate good behaviour, and confront bad behaviour respectfully. Create a friendly, open environment in the classroom. Students tend to learn better when the classroom culture doesn’t intimidate them.

4. Curriculum

Teaching was probably far less challenging in times when learning and curriculum were limited to text books and classrooms. Modern education demands dynamic curriculum that encompasses content, competencies and essential skills aimed at overall development of a student, than mere academic scores. Teachers are required to create student-centric curriculum, that doesn’t just peak their learning interests and abilities, but also instills critical, creative and cognitive thinking, acting as the base for lifelong skill development.

Tip to deal with the challenge: Create a curriculum, in collaboration with students and their learning plans. Regularly review its effectiveness and update if necessary, to meet the learning needs of students.

5. Global Awareness

Education today, doesn’t just groom students for knowledge, survival and careers. It aims at creating future leaders and global citizens, with an integrated view and approach of communities and the world alike. Hence, teachers are expected to create global awareness in students, helping them understand environmental, social, cultural, political, and economic events in the world, and the role they play, or can play in it. Students must also be familiarized with various values such as tolerance, empathy, equality, justice and inclusion.

Tip to deal with the challenge: Use creative approaches such as literature, language, arts, food, culture and travel to instil global awareness. Have regular discussions over current events and news updates. Cultivate awareness, empathy, and fairness, through conversations and examples.

In conclusion…

Teachers of the 21st century are undeniable dealing with new challenges, but it is to be noted, that they are now more accountable for a student’s overall development, laying the foundation for lifelong progress. The challenges may have changed, but so have the resources and rewards, and with constant new updates in the education sector, the teaching scenario may only change for the better.

- Jiji Tharayil