What are some obstacles you may face as a teacher, and according to the context in this unit, how can you overcome these? Throughout their careers, teachers face many obstacles in their classroom that may hinder their teaching. These obstacles come in many different shapes and sizes. It is the effective and successful teacher who is able to overcome these obstacles while maintaining a happy, positive and joyful attitude. A teacher must remember that it is not the information they possess along with various skills that affects teaching, rather it the ability to overcome challenges in a positive manner that impacts on learning.
Some of the many obstacles a teacher may face are; engaging unmotivated children in the classroom, promoting positive conditioning and reinforcement and accommodating those with development disabilities (Symonds, 1941). Keeping students motivated in the classroom and out is an obstacle many teachers will face. Unmotivated students tend to have negative attitudes, a general dislike for school, give up easily on set tasks and are the major cause of classroom disruption (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). These factors lead to students having a negative impact on other students in the classroom, thus making teaching difficult for the teacher.
In order for the teacher to motivate these students, different theories of motivation such as behaviourist and humanistic must be implemented. These theories focus on motivating students through rewards and encourage them to reach their total potential not only as students but also as human beings (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Although many critics believe that rewards send the wrong message to students about learning, many teachers use them as forms of motivation in the classroom. Rewards such as computer time, free time, praise and candy incite children to continue performing well.
Also compassionate and caring teachers who care about their students both as human beings and pupils contribute to their motivation (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). When teachers show that they are concerned for their pupils, make time to talk to them individually, ask them about their problems and maintain high expectations in them, they are indirectly encouraging students to keep up their efforts and inciting them to do even better.
Educators who display unconditional positive regard in their students, which, as defined by Eggen & Kauchak (2010, p. 88) is, “the belief that someone is innately worthy regardless of their behaviour,” contribute to the personal growth of students as students accept their mistakes as part of their make-up and are encouraged to rise above them by challenging themselves to tackle academically stimulating assignments and activities and completing set tasks because they want to and not because they have to (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Once the obstacle of engaging unmotivated students has been overcome, motivation levels need to be kept at a high at all times regardless of students performance.
This can be achieved through positive reinforcement . “Positive reinforcement is the process of increasing the frequency or duration of a behaviour as a result of presenting a reinforcer” (Eggen & Kauchak). In classrooms, teachers need to use positive reinforcers rather than show negative behaviour to encourage students to do better next time, repeat their good actions and increase positive behaviour. For example, Students are disappointed and miserable after performing poorly on a test.
The teacher instead of telling the students off and pointing out all their mistakes, should give positive feedback to the students by telling them how well they performed in certain areas and where they improved. The teacher should then gently point out to the students the areas they had difficulty in without criticizing them and encourage them to partake in a class discussion on how they can improve in these areas. Then the teacher should present an incentive such as bonus points, stickers or a most improved certificate for those students who perform better on the next test.
By using this approach, the teacher is giving both positive and negative feedback on performance and at the same time reinforcing students with a rewards incentive encouraging them to try their hardest next time. This type of reinforcement coupled with positive feedback tends to be the most effective (Jones, 2007). Another way teachers can offer positive reinforcement is by implementing the Premack principle. The Premack principle, named after David Premack is “the principle stating that a more-desired activity can serve as a reinforcer for a less-desired activity” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010, p. 69).
Teachers often implement this strategy in their class sessions by offering them incentives to finish a certain task. In addition to the above positive reinforcement strategies, positive reinforcement also occurs through a teachers behaviour (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). When students are engaged in a lesson and indicate through their actions that they are involved in the lesson, then they are called on by the teacher to give their opinion on the topic as it is evident that they are fully aware of what is being discussed.
Teachers who are able to implement positive reinforcement in their classrooms will ultimately get more out of their students than those who implement negative reinforcement . Another major obstacle teachers may face in the classroom is accommodating those students with development disabilities . Every individual being develops at a different rate and this is not any different for students. Students, regardless of being the same age or in the same year level tend to develop at different rates to each other.
A common form of disability that is found in many classrooms today is intellectual disability . According to Fuchs, 2006; Nokelainen & Flint, 2002, as cited in Eggen & Kauchak (2010, p. 142), “intellectual disability is either caused by genetic factors, such as down syndrome, or brain damage to the fetus during pregnancy”. In order for teachers to be able to accommodate students with this disability they need to be aware of the characteristics of it as some of these characteristics tend to affect learning directly.
These characteristics include but are not limited to; weak motor skills, underdeveloped interpersonal skills, poor memory, weak reading and language skills and little knowledge of the outside world (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). The theory relating to teachers overcoming the obstacle of having intellectually disabled students in their class is to include these students in the mainstream sessions conducted where instruction is modified to meet the needs of these students and help their social development (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).
Case study shows and proves that students with intellectual disabilities want to participate in the same activities, be given the same reading material, handed out the same homework, issued the same judging criteria and be able to join in the same activities as their classmates. The same study showed that the peers of those with intellectual disabilities agreed with this as every child should be given a fair chance (Klingner & Vaughn, 1999).
Also, in order to ensure ease for teachers teaching those with intellectual disability and to ensure those students that have development disabilities receive the education they re entitled to, the federal government has set requirements that educators who teach students with disabilities must guarantee a free and suitable public education, instruct children in the least constricting setting, protect against bias in testing, include parents in developing each child’s learning program and develop an individually tailored education program of education for each student (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010, p. 133). Teachers who adhere to these guidelines and take heed of the advice given and implement the findings of the case study will find that teaching those with development disabilities will no longer remain an obstacle.
Rather it will become an educative and joyful experience . In conclusion there are many obstacles that a teacher will face in their teaching career. Their success will not be determined through avoidance of these obstacles but rather it will be determined through overcoming these obstacles in the most positive manner they can. Teachers who are able to develop motivation, promote positive conditioning and reinforcement and accommodate those with learning disabilities while keeping students successfully engaged and absorbed have indeed overcome some of the most difficult hurdles faced in their teaching career.
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Topic: What Are Some Obstacles You May Face as a Teacher
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