3 factors that make teaching difficult in 2024

For the most part, the majority of teachers are stressed about their jobs, according to new Pew Research data. Here's what leaders need to know.

From staff shortages to political intervention, it’s safe to say that teachers have a harder time than ever staying true to the spark that caused them to fall in love with K12 education. It’s a complex profession, and teachers say three factors in particular make their jobs so difficult.

That’s according to the nonpartisan think tank Pew Research Center, which surveyed more than 2,500 public school teachers to answer one simple question: What’s it like to be a teacher in America today?

For the most part, educators are quite stressed out about their jobs and few are hopeful for the future of K12 education. In fact, more than half (52%) of teachers say they would not recommend the job to young people.

Furthermore, respondents describe their jobs as stressful (77%) and overwhelming (68%). Another 70% say their schools are currently understaffed.

What exactly is making teaching so difficult nowadays? Respondents were asked to give specifics about how things are going in the classroom and share some of the problems that get in the way of instruction. Here’s what they said.

Lack of engagement

Forty-seven percent of teachers agree that their students show little to no interest in learning. When the scope is narrowed down to high school educators only, that number increases to 58%.

Too many distractions

At a time when more and more states are implementing cell phone restrictions in their schools, this sample of teachers agrees that this is a significant issue in their classrooms.

One-third of teachers cite cell phone distractions as a major problem. This concern is even greater among high school educators (72%).

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Lack of respect

Teachers are having difficulty keeping their students under control, the survey suggests. Nearly 20% of educators say their students frequently get up and walk around when they’re not supposed to and are disrespectful to them. Elementary school educators are even more likely to experience these challenges.

However, most teachers (68%) say they’ve received verbal abuse from a student. Another 21% report this happening to them at least a few times a month.

While teachers are less likely to experience physical violence from a student, it’s not uncommon. According to the data, 40% of teachers say they’ve had at least one student be violent toward them. Nine percent of teachers say this happens a few times a month.

The good news, however, is that more than half (56%) of teachers believe their job to be fulfilling “extremely often” or “often,” while 53% describe it as enjoyable. However, administrators should aim to increase these figures, considering teachers are much more likely to cite stress and frustration.

Micah Ward
Micah Wardhttps://districtadministration.com
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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