Why Teaching is Difficult Today
With a world dominated by screens and a constant onslaught of information, it is no wonder teaching today’s students is difficult. Our young learners are growing up in an era of information overload, and we educators need to adapt instead of cling to traditional teaching methods.
Students today come from increasingly diverse backgrounds with varying learning styles, abilities, and needs. Many children enter the classroom ill-equipped for the demands of traditional schooling. Teachers must adapt to the variety of learning styles and levels present in one classroom. It is often challenging to make accommodations for everyone, and some students end up falling behind.
A Life of Screens
There is no denying that screens are a big contributor to why teaching is difficult. Aside from the battles many teachers face in the upper-grade levels, students have grown accustomed to information being delivered quickly. Many students are below grade level when it comes to reading because they simply do not read. Instead, they spend most of their time on screens.
Quick to Dismiss
Another reason why teaching is difficult is because students are quick to dismiss anything they deem as “boring.” Prior to this era of screens and visual information, we had to be patient for many things. The video had to rewind or we had to sit through commercials. Now, everything is instant, and if something. is considered “boring,” it can easily be avoided.
In addition to the screens, today’s learners are used to visual information. As advertisers try to squeeze their message into the milliseconds before a viewer skips a video, they attempt to use visuals to accomplish the goal. The brain processes images far faster than text. Gone are the days when a majority of students can sit and read lengthy textbooks.
4 Ways to Adapt
While teaching is difficult these days, it is possible to adapt. Here are a few methods I use in my own classroom.
Today’s learners are accustomed to information being delivered quickly. As a result, they are quick to shy away from lengthy passages or instructions. Many of these students see a wall of words and instantly shut down.
To address this phenomenon, teachers need to utilize the power of visual learning. Incorporating visual learning tools such as anchor charts or comics can have an immense impact on retention and engagement.
With our learners’ uncanny ability to dismiss anything that seems boring, educators need to make content relatable. Take some time to investigate current trends on their platforms. I often take a break to try out the newest dance moves. While I certainly make a fool of myself, it gets a laugh and builds rapport.
Comics also have the power to make the content relatable. Following characters through the learning process is far more approachable than simple paragraphs.
Hands-on and Involved
The more you can get your learners involved in the learning process, the better. Get them on their feet and actively learning. A majority of kids spend too much time indoors and sitting still. If you want more involvement, get them actively learning.
As a middle school science teacher, I try to incorporate as much project-based learning as possible. An issue I often faced was a resistance to reading directions. I once again turned to comics and visual learning to increase engagement. With instructions being formatted in an approachable, visual format, ALL of my students took an active role in my projects.
Build the Rapport
I know it can be a struggle sometimes, but rapport is one of the most important tips to making teaching less difficult.
I used to teach math and science at a charter school for at-risk youth. My students hailed from all walks of life, and most had a negative experience in school. Behavior issues, lack of effort, and attendance issues were the norm.
The only way I could successfully connect with my learners is to take the time to build rapport. I let them tell their story and listened when they had something to share. I would greet even my most challenging students with a warm smile. Rapport is key.
I spent the first half of my teaching career believing teaching is difficult. It was not until I started creating comics and delivering information in this format that I actually began to succeed as an educator. Today’s students are growing up in a world far different than the world we grew up in. We need to adapt and meet them where they are. Trying to force traditional methods only works for a small minority of learners.
Comics made information approachable and relatable. Even my most reluctant learners were eager and excited to read the content. Comics make learning FUN.
More About Cool School Comics
As a middle school science teacher with over sixteen years of experience in the classroom, I will be the first to admit that teaching is getting increasingly more difficult. You are not alone. When I am not in the classroom, I am striving to create a teaching resource that will make it EASY for teacher to work in their elementary and middle school science and math classrooms.
One-Page Comic-Style Content
NGSS Standards aligned comic-style science content making it easy for you to harness the engagement and power of comics.
All hands-on activities are formatted in a visual format melding illustrations with the instructions. Your students will actually read the directions!
There is a reason why so many instructions from building block models to new furniture are formatted in a visual format. It works.
In order to create a well-rounded teaching resource, all comics are modified into supplementals.
Learners can demonstrate their understanding of the content through comic-style guided notes, Doodle Notes, and supplementals.