I believe the most difficult challenges I will face as a teacher will be students who come to school hungry, teaching to students with different learning styles, and parents. I feel as though everything will be challenging in the beginning, but the more experience I have the easier it will become. Experience is the best teacher, but it will also help to communicate with teachers your work with.
I struggle with hungry students now. When a student comes to school Monday morning and says “Mrs. Burton I am so hungry we only ate once over the weekend” I can feel my heart breaking. I know which kids are more than likely at home without an adult. The adult is either working or out doing whatever they want careless to the fact that they have at least one child at home without supervision or food and something without electricity. This is something I have worked to overcome. I know have a bag of snacks under my desk. They aren’t great snacks, but they are healthy and when you are really hungry you will eat just about anything. Our school doesn’t provide seconds for children on lunch assistance programs, fortunately our school cafeteria workers do make extra for breakfast so those kids that area truly hungry will have full bellies for school. We now have a backpack program to help overcome the nights and weekends without food for low-income students.
Every student who walks in the door will have a different learning style from the last student. “We once believed that intelligence was fixed and could not be changed… We now know that our intelligence changes throughout our lives.” (Tileston, 2012). Different learning styles are extremely challenging. Not only do you need one lesson plan for each class you will now need one lesson plan for each style of learning for each class. Once you get each lesson done for each learning style you can save that for the years to come and make adjustment as needed. The best way to overcome this challenge will be to rely on other teachers and start planning early. When you figure out what curriculum you are going to use you can look at the teacher’s manual and it will sometimes give you ways to teach to each learning style. Google and teachers pay teachers have already been helpful resources for me as a para-educator. I am certain as a teacher I will be using these a lot.
Parents can be challenging, especially when their high expectations are unreasonable. I have met parents who are calling two to three times a school day or will show up to talk to a teacher in the middle of their class. This is completely out of line. The principal was called in to conference with the parent, so the teacher could teach the class. Then on the other end of the spectrum are the parents who can’t even be bothered to show up for parent teacher conferences once a year. There are some parents who have a nice happy medium who come to conferences and help their child with homework on a regular basis. The way to overcome to little parental involvement is to interact with parents. Teachers can email parents updates on how their child is doing, or a general email to all parents about what the class is working on daily or weekly. Having a friendly demeanor with parents will make them feel more comfortable discussing their child. To overcome overbearing parents, I would meet with the parent and set realistic expectations. I would reassure the parent that the child is progressing well in all areas of school. If the child is not I would meet with the parent and explain what I am doing to help and what the school is doing to help. I would then set clear boundaries concerning how often I would be in contact with them, unless something comes up between now and then.