No matter how you spin it, digital tools and technology won’t do a thing for students unless a highly-qualified teacher is at the helm.

Yes, educational technology has the potential to boost student achievement and engagement–but not on its own. Add an effective teacher to the mix, and you’ve got an education expert who can incorporate technologies into teaching and learning in seamless ways.

Keep in mind, however, that teachers deal with much, much more than teaching and the instructional challenges that come with it. They teach in schools that are short-staffed, they comfort children with emotional challenges, they use their own money to fund much of, if not most of, their classroom expenses.

It’s important to be cognizant of these challenges as we cast a critical eye on school initiatives and make plans to incorporate technology into the classroom, because some of these barriers will persist.

(Next page: 9 classroom challenges teachers face)

Here’s a look at just a few of the challenges teachers overcome each day.

1. As a result of unfilled classroom positions, 39 percent of educators said they have larger class sizes, 32 percent said their school has high teacher turnover rates, and 23 percent said it results in more teaching “toward the middle.” (Source: University of Phoenix College of Education survey)

2. Twenty-nine percent of educators indicated their schools are just beginning to integrate project-based, real-world learning approaches. (Source: Schools of Hope survey from MeTEOR Education)

3. But actual progress is lagging. Fewer than 40 percent of educators reported substantial efforts toward more flexible, project- and collaborative-based learning approaches that engage and empower students. (Source: Schools of Hope survey from MeTEOR Education)

4. Some technologies are definitely on the rise, however–last year, data revealed that teachers’ use of game-based environments and online apps had doubled over six years. (Source: The annual Speak Up survey)

5. School principals (84 percent) said they believe effectively using technology as part of instruction is a key part of student success, but said there are barriers to meeting those expectations… (Source: The annual Speak Up survey)

6. …The top-cited barrier was lack of teacher training on how to properly integrate digital content within instruction, which 57 percent of surveyed principals identified as their biggest obstacle. (Source: The annual Speak Up survey)

7. Teachers often only have resources for their own grade, but are challenged with meeting the needs of students who are ahead or behind their grade levels. (Source: Front Row Education survey)

  • More than 93 percent have students who are below grade level in their classrooms
  • Eighty percent of teachers have students at least one grade level behind, 70 percent have students two grade levels behind, and more than one-third have students who are three grade levels behind
  • Seventy percent of teachers have students at least one grade level ahead

8. When it comes to money for classrooms, teachers often have no choice but to use their own. (Source: Front Row Education survey)

  • Nearly one third of teachers spend more than $500 each year
  • Nearly two-thirds spend more than $300
  • 1 in 10 teachers spends over $1,000

9. As those in education know, a teacher’s day doesn’t end when students go home (Source: Front Row Education survey)

  • 15 percent work more than 60 hours a week
  • 40 percent work between 50 and 60 hours a week
  • 40 percent work between 40-50 hours a week
About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura