It is true that so much has changed in the last few decades, and it is not only technology that is having the biggest impact on what we do, it is the speed of change. Everything is just changing so fast.
If you check I-pads, I-pods, interactive whiteboards, e-books, tablets … and other e-learning stuffs….etc. people have access to, you will probbaly understand the change that is being undertaken and how it affects everything.
Just like other things, education, in the 21st century, has remarkably changed. The concept of being a ‘teacher’ is no longer the same. Nowadays, teachers are required to have specific skills and display certain characteristics to undertake the teaching profession successfully.
From my experience as an EFL teacher and based on what I have learned from workshops and seminars, here are some integral characteristics that a 21st century teacher should have. As we continue to live in a world that is quickly and continually changing, every teacher must be :
- Continuous Learner _
As aforesaid, change is continuously taking place. We are certain of this. Ten years ago, some teachers were amazing. But, today they are not so because they are not learning and doing their best to know more.
As the world moves ahead, you will definitely be left behind if you don’t make moves and adjust your knolwedge and practices to the circumstances and the requirements of the period. Being a teacher doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be a learner. Learning is crucial to our academic survival. We need to continuously evaluate our practices and their impacts on students to get better and move ahead.
- Relationship Builder _
Just like in life, relationships with others play an important role in our happiness and social stability. In classrooms, great realtionships with students can promote a positive learning environment and raise their overall achievements.
As a teacher, you have to ask these questions: Do my students love to come to my class? Do they like to engage, participate and collaborate? Do they feel empowered and encouraged? Do they trust me? Do they feel valued? Answering these questions will definitely help build a good relationship with students.
- Inclusive _
Do we want everyone to think the same way? Absolutely, no. Our schools and classes are full of students from different socio-cultural backgrounds. Every single learner has a certain way of thinking, a certain learning style, a certain strength. And as educators, we should believe in these differences, be inclusive, and find ways to develop each student’s strengths.
- Reflective _
How often do you take time to reflect and critically think about your pedagogical practices? Being a reflective teacher is so critical in the 21st century.
The amount of knowledge and new ideas that are unfolded everyday is so remarkable. It is so important that teachers find appropriate time each day to think about classroom practices and improve their pedagogical competences.
- Researcher _
Now more than anytime, so much has changed with respect to the role of teachers. Current approaches to education suggest that teachers’ roles should be first and foremost a learner alongside the children. In this respect, teachers are researchers and guides whose ultimate responsibility is to carefully examine their learners, listen to their concerns, and explore their interests. Teachers who are action researchers have shown that they can help their learners and provide them the best opportunities for learning.
- Digital designer _
A teacher, who is digital designer, is a highly skilled professional who is equipped with many digital skills and who can perform several tasks.
I will use this term to refer to teachers’ ability to perform several important tasks such as: graphic designer, web designer, illustrator (typography, the design of logos, posters, brochures…etc.), technical writer, blogger…etc.
These skills are of paramount significance. Today, our students are ditital natives. So, we must be familiar with skills that match their interests, ambitions, curiosities, and generation.
- Cooperative _
To work together with others is the best way to maximize learning. Creating diverse learning network, and attending professional development sessions where teachers and educators gather and work coperatively will definitely help teachers to grow up.
- Creative and innovative _
With this remarkable change happening, teachers need to be innovative and creative. They should be able to create new and better things. Curriculum might not help teachers to be so innovative. But, they have to try their best.
Living in a world that is evolving so fast, innovation should be the norm, not the exception and teachers need to find better ways to tranfer this to their learners.
- Leader _
Leadership is something that has been percieved wrongly over the years. Being a leader doesn’t mean to be a ‘’boss’’. Being a leading teacher means you should be able to encourage and positively impact learners and other staffs to move ahead, give them opportunities to lead from where they are. This way you can guarantee meaningful change taking place.
- Storyteller _
Most of us watch Ted Talks and we like most of them. Have you ever asked why?
It is because the speakers are great storytellers. They start with a story that captivates the audience’s attention. Rudyard Kipling said :
“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
In many schools and universities, lecturing is being criticised from students because it is boring and irrelevant. Being a storyteller will help your students create meaningful connections of what they hear, and it will eventually stick to their minds. Storytelling will also help them get questions to ponder upon.
- Designer and decorator _
The classroom environment matters. How the class look like ? and how does it make learners feel ? do they have chances to learn in a variety of ways that suit their needs?
The idea of being a designer and a decorator is to be able to think about learning from the perspective of students. We need to design and decorate classrooms in way that allow for meaningful learning experiences and serve our students most.
- Artist _
I think most teachers would agree that education is an art more than anything else. Is teaching a science or an art ? is a long-standing debate in educational psychology and applied linguistics. There are methods, approaches and procedures that pedagogically guide teachers. However, sometimes teachers need to be creative, resilient, flexible, adaptable, and able to use the available resources effectively.
I hope that these characteristics will help you understand what 21st teachers look like. As long as the change is taking place fast, we need to think about the world we are living in and how important to craft the minds of the young learners we are teaching. So, let’s stay tuned….
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