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Five Issues Elementary Educators Face and How to Overcome Them

There are challenges to helping kids succeed academically—but there are solutions.

Teachers make a positive difference in children’s lives. Helping kids learn and succeed is incredibly rewarding. Teachers truly can impact the future through their work. But as rewarding as the job is, being an educator is also challenging. Here are five issues that elementary educators commonly face—and how to overcome them.

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1. Providing equal educational opportunities for all students

The issue: Every classroom holds students with a range of learning needs. If you focus on high-achieving students, you risk leaving other students behind. If you focus on struggling students, you could fail to challenge high performers.

The solution: Set high expectations and common long-term learning goals in your curriculum, but develop questions, activities, and tasks that allow for different levels of practice. That way, students at all levels can feel both challenged and successful.

2. School funding

The issue: When schools lack funding, class sizes can increase, enrichment and extracurricular programs get cut, and supply budgets are minimal or nonexistent.

The solution: Most teachers make up for a lack of school funding by using their own money for supplies and other necessities—but that puts the burden on teachers and doesn’t help improve funding. Instead, make sure you understand how funding works for your school. Funding usually is set at the state level, but local school administrators are sometimes able to make decisions about where to direct funding in their districts. Find out which legislators are responsible for your school’s funding and reach out to them to let them know your concerns. Advocate for your school’s needs with local administrators. Let parents and others in the community know, too, so they can make their votes count.

3. Engaging families in the learning process

The issue: Ideally, families and schools work together to offer the best learning opportunities for children. Parents should ensure that students get enough sleep, finish their homework, and are prepared for each school day. However, that’s not always the case.

The solution: Some teachers make up the difference when parental support is lacking, but ultimately, parents will be there throughout their children’s lives and educators only work with a child for a single school year. A better option is to try multiple ways to reach parents. Find out what their preferred method of communication is and use it. Take advantage of Google Translate to overcome potential language barriers. Use digital calendars and reminders to reach busy parents. Build community by sharing positive information about the classroom. Plan appealing activities that families can participate in throughout the year to help them get involved.

4. Classroom management

The issue: Disruptive behavior can make it difficult to teach, and it can escalate, leading to conflicts between students or between a teacher and their students.

The solution: When conflicts arise, address them quickly. Stay neutral and mediate issues between students at lunch or after class. If an issue arises between you and a student, take them aside and calmly ask them, “How might I help you?” This disarming question can help deescalate a difficult situation.

5. Hunger

The issue: As many as 13 million children in the U.S. face hunger.1 For lots of kids, school lunch might be the only meal they can count on that day. Childhood hunger impacts almost every classroom. Students who don’t get adequate nutrition may have difficulty concentrating and behaving, which can negatively affect their academic performance.

The solution: Find out what your school’s options are. Some states and districts offer free breakfast and/or lunch for all students; others require students or their parents to sign up for a free meal program. Make sure your students know that free food is available, and if sign-ups are required, help students sign up—confidentially. Talk to your school’s wellness or health advisory committee and see if they can fund snacks in the classroom. Advocate for better access to nutritious meals for all students.

While these challenges may seem daunting, there are solutions to every problem. Every teacher can make a positive difference in the lives of their students—and continuing your own education can only help your students more.

Walden University has provided working professionals with the support they need to advance their careers and inspire social change for more than 50 years. At Walden, an accredited online university, you can pursue your Master of Arts in Teaching – Elementary Education while you continue to work full time. Walden’s MAT – Elementary Education online degree program allows you to practice teaching in different environments. You’ll learn to engage children from a variety of backgrounds and cultures by working with families, colleagues, and the community, plus you’ll examine how technology can enhance learning. You’ll also explore effective planning, instruction, and assessment for diverse student populations.

If you haven’t yet earned a teaching degree, you can pursue a BS in Elementary Education at Walden. You’ll learn how to create impactful instruction as a new elementary educator. A bachelor’s in elementary education will prepare you to become a K–6 teacher.

Thanks to Walden’s flexible online learning platform, you can continue to work while pursuing your degree. You can complete your coursework at whatever time of day works best for you. Prepare to sit for your state’s teacher licensure exam and make a meaningful difference in the lives of your students when you earn your MAT – Elementary Education or your BS in Elementary Education at Walden.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Arts in Teaching – Elementary Education and a BS in Elementary Education online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.

1Source: www.nokidhungry.org/who-we-are/hunger-facts

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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