What does it mean to be a teacher in our time, strategies, tools, and connections

Teaching in the 21st century is a whole different phenomenon. Never before has teaching-learning been happening at a scale and nature as its happening now; everywhere, every time, on any possible topic, and catering to any different learning style you could think of. Technology emerging every day has enabled us to reach farther, impact deeper, and profoundly indulge in the learning sphere without the constraints of time and space.

So to keep up with the developing learner and shifting environment, the modern teacher also has to adapt and evolve. To be honest, the requirements to be considerate of the learner has been always there. Our conventional system simply chose to move along a different path is all. But things have changed now. With the exposure to a wider world and a broader perspective, students, parents, and other stakeholders have become much more conscious about what is being taught, and how.

To define a teacher of our time, we generally use the term ‘21st century teacher’. This is an invented term and doesn’t inherently mean anything other than the meaning which we’ve assigned. If you care enough to do a casual google search, you’ll find that there wasn’t even a term as 20th-century teacher. So how come teachers of our century gets these titles and attention.

The reason is simple. Learning has changed, and along with it, teaching too.

Being a teacher doesn’t mean the same as it did during the 1990s or early 2000s. There are many more factors deciding our teaching styles. There are ICT-enabled classrooms, more learning styles to consider, complex student behaviour, technology integration at an unprecedented scale like never before, and so on.

So what defines a 21st century teacher? What are their characteristics? What tools and tactics do they use to make their work easier? We’ll see in this blog.

The 21st century teacher is technology-assisted

Let’s face the facts for once. Being a 21st-century teacher is not all AI driven, virtual reality classrooms where the students and teachers are projected holograms as we see in some weird depictions. But the modern teacher does have the advantage of technology in their favour. Communication is much easier with the rise of social media and teachers are well connected with their peer communities and students than ever before. All it takes is a text to let your students know what you’re up to.

We know teachers who use collaborative tools like the google docs, Evernote, or MS office to organize and take a hold on their daily tasks. These tools help them strategize better and share them with their colleagues for better inputs. So the 21st century teacher makes use of technology to get things done. And speaking of strategizing, that brings us to our next characteristic, collaboration.

The 21st century teacher is collaborative

Working well with others and collaborating is an essential 21st-century skill. The modern-day teachers need to know how to work well as a team. This includes both students and other fellow peers. According to the advancing research in learning sciences, teacher’s collaboration and interaction with the students play a huge role in deciding the final outcome.

With the communication technologies we have at our disposal, teacher-to-teacher collaboration is much more efficient than ever. Sharing teaching mechanisms, course materials, experiences, etc. to help save valuable time and energy, and build connections that would help you build your career. Again, the 21st-century teacher is well-connected in terms of peer-to-peer interaction, parent-teacher relationships, and student-teacher bonding.

The 21st century teacher knows about personalized teaching experience & student-centered classroom

The one-size-fits-all paradigm is long gone. We’ve acknowledged the fact that each student is different and learns in their own unique way. So the system has adapted to cater to each student’s needs and provide personalized care for them. The 21st century teacher knows this and provides to the requirements of their students. Outcome-Based Education and learner-centric approaches are implemented in classrooms, all the way from k-12 till graduate or postgraduate classrooms.

The teacher can also make intelligent use of technology platforms and tools to carefully assess student performances and collect insights so that they can deliver personalized care for the learner. Academic management platforms like Linways helps teachers and institutional management to identify shortcomings in the syllabus and adapt quickly to cover those with these performance insights.

The 21st century teacher is adaptive

For millennia, the process of teaching has stayed the same. Though technology has started to replace some of the tools, the process is still the same. However, a 21st century teacher is able to look at their practices and adapt to make teaching-learning more efficient and effective. Their adaptive techniques include finding new mechanisms to counter the sluggishness of the existing methods, integrating technology to automate or simplify daily tasks, implementing learning theories like the Outcome Based Education and rubrics like the Bloom’s Taxonomy to gather insights and make it easier to positively react to the results and performances of the learner.

Being adaptive also means that a 21st century teacher learns continuously. There is research being conducted on new tools and techniques for education, and other teachers sharing their experiences over discussion forums and teaching communities. This is a valuable resource for the modern teacher because this enables them to combine their own expertise and feedback from their peers to refine and improve their teaching methods.

We found this topic from our interactions with teachers and academicians which happens every day. We believe, with the help of technology, the 21st century teacher can achieve much more and create a beautiful learning environment for your students in schools and colleges. So if you think any of these characteristics of a 21st-century teacher is relatable, please let us know in the comments. Also, share your views on the ‘whom a 21st-century teacher is supposed to be’ so we can talk about it.

Also published on Medium.