The teaching profession is one of the professions that is really challenging in terms of physically or mentally. This can be seen through the work load that a teacher has to do at the school. According to Lieberman (1956), profession refers to a type of work that has a great social function. One must have certain skills, experience and knowledge to be good a certain works. A teacher is not only teaching, but to educate, to simplify and to change a person to become someone that is useful to the community and the country in the future. Teachers play a role of parents at school to guide and educate children. The roles of teachers today become even more challenging when dealing with children of different background and learning styles.
Challenge can be defined as the situation of being faced with something that needs great mental or physical effort in order to be done successfully and therefore tests a person's ability (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/challenge). The challenges that teachers face today are not the same the way previous teachers had faced. In today’s education, teachers are expected to not only imparting the knowledge in the classroom, they need to play multiple roles in facilitating the learning and able to produce teaching and learning effectively and efficiently. In line with the changes in education system, teacher must be more innovative, creative and effective in structuring the lesson as well as provide the best education to suits the needs of the students.
Malaysian education system is evolving and changing over time. The changes and transformation that happened in recent years are to make realize the country’s achievement in the future. The curriculum transformation makes the teaching profession become more challenging. Thus, teachers must equip themselves with necessary skills and improve on the teaching and learning techniques from time to time in order to provide education at the par excellent.
2.0 THE CHALLENGES AND STRESS FACED BY TEACHER
During the practicums period, I too faced challenges and stress at the schools. The challenges and stress I faced based on he teaching practice experience at the three different persepectives; personal, school and national level.
Figure 1: The three different perspectives of challenges and stress
2.1 CHALLENGES BASED ON THE PERSONAL PERSEPECTIVE
2.1.1 TIME MANAGEMENT
One of the challenges that I faced was time management. Management is the activity that we do based on the strategy and rules as well as followed by the responsibilities of the people in an organization. As a teacher, time management is very important. Good time management enables teachers to plan the activities and lesson smoothly. During the practicum period, I had difficult time with works and thus affecting my time management. Sometimes it may seem that there is not enough time to do everything that you need to. This can lead to a build up of stress. The lesson planning also one of the contributing factors to my challenge because I need enough time to think and write the lesson plan. Without proper planning, my lessons will fall apart and the objectives cannot be achieved.
In the classroom for instance, the allocated time for each stage in the lesson often become a problem to me, because I could not follow the time correctly. Sometimes the activities planned required more time from what has been set. Thus this also affects the teaching and learning process in the class. Time is precious in the school indeed. With the projects and assignments that I had to do, I did not have enough time to review my lessons properly and the teaching aids also sometimes were not suitable with the lessons. I was really disappointed with myself. It took me few weeks to adjust myself with the current state of teaching profession in the school.
In today’s education, teachers are expected to not only imparting the knowledge in the classroom, they need to play multiple roles in facilitating the learning and able to produce lessons effectively and efficiently. Hence, correct timing and effective strategy must be looked upon among all the teachers in school. In line with the changes in education system, teacher must be more innovative, creative and effective in structuring the lesson as well as provide the best education to suits the needs of the students.
2.2 CHALLENGES BASED ON THE SCHOOL PERSPECTIVE
2.2.1 RELATIONSHIP OF TEACHERS
The challenge that I experienced based on the persepective of the school during the practicum is concerned with aspect of the relationship between teachers at school. For me, the effort to make contact with fellow teachers at the school is a great challenge because I am new to the school and a practical teacher. As a trainee teacher at the school I need to build good rapport with the teachers and be polite all the time. In order for me to survive at the school is to be nice and seek help and advice from the senior teachersl. By doing so I could understand how the working culture in the school be like so that I can be ready for any circumstance.
The relationship among the teachers in the school where I was doing my practicum was bad. Some of the teachers were sitting in groups and forming their own colleagues. This culture should not be happening in any working place because I personally think that it will affect the way we work and the organization itself. Besides that, I was placed in the corner of the staff room where I hardly spoken to the other teachers. Some of the teacher were hardly had time to talk and getting to know each other. This can be seen when I was asking about the English panel of the school during my first day at the school, there was this teacher who said she does not know that English teacher I was looking for. She refused to tell me which one was the English teacher and made me find the teacher myself. It was sad seeing a teacher who has that kind of attitude. To me the situation shows that the realationship among the teachers were not good.
The communication among the teachers was not good. I could see this during the meeting. While the headmaster was talking, some teachers were busy with their gadjets and when they were ask to explain about something, they harldy open their mouth and showed no interest in the meeting. There were times when the teachers had argument about their duties in school.
2.3 CHALLENGES BASED ON THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
2.3.1 GOVERNMENT POLICY
Malaysian education system is evolving and changing over time. The changes and transformation that happened in recent years are to make realize the country’s achievement in the future. The curriculum transformation makes the teaching profession become more challenging.
It is the aspiration of the MOE to ensure that students reach their full potential. Therefore every teacher in the school has many roles to play in ensuring that the six aspirations in the PPPM are met. The Malaysian Education Blueprint will continue to look at the National Education Philosophy’s vision as its foundation for the students aspirations. The six key attributes needed by every student to be globally competitive are namely the emphasis on the element of knowledge, thinking skills, leadership, bilingual proficiency, ethics and spirituality, and national identity. Each of these elements also emphasizes the effort to enable all students to contribute significantly to the institution of family, community and country.
One of the challenges is the ‘Kurrikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah’ (KSSR), The Malaysian Education Blueprint, Memperkasa Bahasa Melayu Memartabat Bahasa Inggeris (MBMMBI), Sekolah Kluster Kecemerlangan, Sekolah Berprestasi Tinggi (SBT) and many more. The challenge for teachers in school is to make sure the policy is being carried out and achieve the objectives based on the allocated time. Teachers in school sometimes burdern with works overloaded and this can cause stress among them. To make sure the teaching and learning is running smoothly, teacher must consider many aspects especially the background of students. Today, the high order thinking skilss has been introduced and students are trained to be critical in many aspects. However, teacher must ensure that the students are ready and the successful of the strategy also depends on what type of students we are dealing with. Thus it is a challenge for the teacher to set high order thinking skills questions for the rural school.
Most teachers are stress out because there are so many things to do in limited time. Teacher now also as to be active with virtual learning called ‘Frog VLE’ that has been recently introduced to the school. Senior teacher who has limited skills about ICT may encounter problems in using the system. The technology-based era has made the role of teacher to become even more challenging. To help students to learn better, a teacher must have skills such as communication skills, skills in using technology and skills to make realize the policies.. Best practices in teaching will also help teachers to achieve the attribute that needed for the students as stated in the PPPM.
3.0 WAYS TO OVERCOME THE CHALLENGES AND STRESS
It is very important for teachers to be able to handle challenges and stress especially in school. To overcome the challenge, one must develop effective strategies for managing the time and balance the conflicting demands of time for assignments, lesson plans, leisure, and other works in the school. Time management skills are valuable in teaching profession and also in many other aspects of life. According to Harison and Kilion (2007), the ways teachers can lead are varied as teachers themselves. Teacher must know how to lead him or herself, especially in management of time. A teacher who knows how to manage time can be role model to the students. Sometimes there are many things to be done in a limited time, thus this will cause stress. Once we know how to improve the management of our time, we can start to adjust our routines and patterns of behavior to reduce the stress.
Apart from that, we need to prioritize our important tasks rather than that are not important. I believe that everyone has a planner book, so make use of it by organizing the work and do a list making to remind us of what need to do. To be an effective teacher, we need to decide what tasks are important and list the tasks we have and to sort these in order of priority, and then to devote most time to the most important tasks. This will help us to tackle most of our work and the time management problem can be reduced.
Furthermore, good relationship among the teachers has impact on the school itself. Rapport is the foundation for any relationship. To overcome the issues of relationship of teachers in the school, everybody needs to work on the team building spirit and understand each other. Besides that, we should help each other. As a trainee teacher I can offer help and always seek for advice from the senior teachers at school. Generally, everybody needs to be praised and recognition, thus we must encourage ourselves to always give compliment, avoid criticism and be polite. In order to have agreat working team, we must always establish positive relationship with each other.
Besides, teachers cannot work alone, we need to work collaboratively with peers and administrators. As stated in Malaysian Teacher Standard one of the aspects under professional teaching is social domain. In order for me to become a good teacher, we need to have good communication skills so that we can socialize better with other experienced teachers. Hence, as a trainee teacher, I need to learn more and exposed myself to the real situation so that I can become more aware of how the profession works in order to develop myself in the long run.
Teachers always encounter problems regarding the curriculum design in school. The policies made by the ministry sometimes are hard to be implemented to schools that lack of facilities. Other than that, some teachers in school do not have enough skills in technology, so the online learning cannot be done smoothly at school. To overcome this, teachers can attend courses and do some reading. Teaching is not only about imparting the knowledge, but also supporting students to develop their knowledge and competence. A good teacher will use a range of techniques and skills to ensure that what and how they teach recognises the needs of the students and meets the learning outcomes that has been set in the curriculum. The teaching techniques include planning for a lesson, finding out prior knowledge and skills and using relevant examples that can be relate with the learner. The technology-based era has made the role of teacher to become a facilitator and mentor. To help students to learn better, a facilitator must have skills such as communication skills, skills in using technology and skills to motivate students. Best practices in teaching will help teachers to make realize the attribute that needed for the students as stated in the PPPM.
Towle (1948), stated that the aim of education is to convey knowledge in such a way that the student may not merely possess it but use it. Likewise in the school, teacher should encourage students to continue learning and use the knowledge they have learned in school in their daily lives. The challenges that a teacher faces in school should not be a burdern but take it as turning point to improve self and be a great educator. The understanding and knowledge of a person are constructed through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. Thus teacher must practise and apply the knowledge as well as experiencing with it. In the classroom, teacher and students also must work together in order to let pupils to construct the knowledge and understanding by themselves through range of activities.
To be an expert in the profession, teachers need to always seek knowledge and improve themselves from time to time. The challenges and stress should be handled properly. Every cicumstances that happened throughout the teaching career must take into account and be professional in handling such challenges. Teachers need to become lifelong learners as knowledge keeps on evolving. Teachers play many roles in school to develop young Malaysians who are knowledgeable, think critically and creatively, have leadership skills and are able to communicate with the rest of the world. Just as importantly, students must be educated with values, ethics and a sense of nationhood, enabling them to make the right choices for themselves, their families and the country with a view towards enduring and overcoming life’s inevitable challenges. Teachers must equip themselves with necessary skills and improve on the teaching and learning techniques from time to time in order to achieve the six attribute that needed by very students as outline in Malaysian Education Blueprint. Personal learning plan is needed by every teacher to be to increase knowledge and improve the standard of education to higher degree.