7 Biggest Challenges for Teachers: According to Teachers

Back in July 2021, we surveyed the TeacherVision audience to find out what they thought would be their most significant challenges for the school year.

We then resent the same survey a year later to compare responses and see if the assumed teaching challenges played out as expected.

Here's what we found.

Biggest Challenges for Teachers in 2022

Teaching has evolved over the years, and with that comes different challenges. Classroom management, creating engaging lesson plans, time management, and reaching diverse learning styles are some things on teachers’ plates. The pandemic presented a new set of challenges for both student learning and well-being.

At TeacherVision, we are invested in supporting teachers so that they can, in turn, help their students. So, we were naturally curious about what new challenges they might have faced in these years after the start of the pandemic and what they will be facing in future school years to come.

In a recent TeacherVision survey, over 60% of teachers were concerned with students falling behind and not performing at their current grade level. We polled hundreds of US educators at the high school, middle school, and elementary school levels on the challenges they have faced already and what they anticipate in the future. The results may surprise you.

TV self care infographic

Most Students Left Behind

Teachers and parents alike were concerned about what kind of quality education could be provided on online platforms versus in-person classrooms at the start of the pandemic. The major fears were: the possible loss of learning and the widening of achievement gaps. These turned out to be both valid and growing concerns. While the poll at the beginning of the year revealed that over 60% of teachers believed their biggest challenge would be academic progress, that number rose closer to 70% when polled at the end of the year.

Teachers have seen it all in the last few years. Dealing with the Covid-19 interruption of the traditional learning process, having to address a more diverse group of learners than ever before, and possibly managing a weightier workload due to teacher shortages and burnout were all referenced in the poll. But the numbers don’t lie. Teachers are mostly concerned with their student’s academic progress - and it’s not getting any better.

Related resources: Self-Care Resources By Teachers, For Teachers 

Behaving Badly: A Break in Development Means More Behavioral Challenges

While academics were at the forefront of classroom concerns this past year, there are others quickly climbing up the polls. When we asked teachers to provide their own suggestions of the challenges they faced outside of academics, student behavior was at the very top of the list among elementary school through high school students, even above stress and differentiating instruction.

One teacher had this to say about student behavior,
“It was apparent that because of the pandemic, not 
only are children behind in their academic skills, but 
also in their behavior skills. Children in 2nd grade 
who have never been to school before still throw 
tantrums like toddlers because they missed that 
an important part of development for Kindergarten and 
1st grades. Students that are in 5th grade have no 
idea how to handle peer pressure and cannot hold 
conversations with each other because they missed 
that part of their development in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th 

There was not one thing that could be narrowed down as the cause of the decline in student behavior. However, the poll tells us that the lack of experience that leadership and administration have in dealing with these heightened challenges might have something to do with it. “Student behavior was an issue, as well as greatly lowered standards, despite what is told to the general public,” says one teacher. Good teachers in school districts across the country are left to fend for themselves with behavior management concerns and having to lower benchmarks, as everyone is navigating uncharted waters. Unfortunately, it’s something they simply don’t have enough time for right now, among the other growing issues.

"Student behavior was an issue, as well as greatly lowered standards, despite what is told to the general public,” says one teacher.

Reflect and Project: Greatest Challenges of 2021-22 Vs. Greatest Concerns for 2022-23

According to our data, teachers don’t believe these issues will resolve before the 2022/23 school year begins. When asked what teachers’ greatest concern of the up and coming year would be, the answer was clear at a staggering 68.7%: student performance and demonstrating grade-level growth indicators remain the front runners, with student behavior coming in second at 58.3%.

The concerns also include issues of well-being and social-emotional learning for the upcoming year (teachers’ own well-being and that of their students were nearly tied at 45.2% and 44.3%, respectively). SEL went from a nearly obscure concept to a well-known pedagogical term in recent years, and for good reason. Teachers have incorporated a focus on social-emotional awareness and mindfulness in their teaching strategies, displaying their intentions in their syllabus, and there has been an uptick in SEL-centered professional development. Several mindfulness apps, such as Calm, have made a note of this need and have modified content for classroom use, in addition to a wealth of resources and information on social media on how to integrate SEL techniques and strategies.

For ideas on how to integrate self-care more seamlessly into the classroom and daily life, visit our Self-Care Hub here.

Useful resource: 19 Ideas for Self-Care and Wellness in Schools

The messaging is clear: there is a growing need for the emphasis on wellness and work/life balance; the problem is, there is not a lot of time to address those needs within school hours or support from the administration to pull it off effectively. (If you recognize this need in your own life but lack time to compile resources, take a look at our Teacher Self-Care Workbook) This was made clear, as in our poll, teachers placed clear policies and procedures surrounding well-being at the very bottom of the list when asked how their schools supported them.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however. Over 40% of teachers indicated that they feel their district displays appropriate staff appreciation. It’s important to note, also, the plain points of necessary improvement; only 14.8% of teachers listed peer coaching and mentoring as an active focus in their district, with team development and opportunities coming in at the bottom of the list at 8.7%.

"There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however.

Over 40% of teachers indicated that they feel their district displays appropriate staff appreciation."

Moving Forward

Navigating a (not quite) post-pandemic educational landscape is not an easy task. Based on our most recent survey, we are moving in the right direction- but still have quite a way to go. The categories that require the most focus for the 2023 school year are academic, social/emotional, and teacher work/life balance, as the demands continue to increase without modifications to the time, it will require to address them. We remain committed to serving teachers in the ever-changing educational environment with materials and resources that support their growing needs. 

Join us this fall for TeacherVision Talks - a three-day webinar series focused on Teacher Self-Care and wellbeing, in collaboration with renowned experts in education and experienced educators.

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About the author

Jenny Vanderberg Shannon


About Jenny

Jenny Vanderberg Shannon is a former education professional with 10+ years of classroom and leadership experience, with a B.A. in English, and an M.A. in Educational… Read more

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