“I am a teacher! What I do and say are being absorbed by young minds who will echo these images across the ages. My lessons will be immortal, affecting people yet unborn, people I will never see or know. The future of the world is in my classroom today, a future with the potential for good or bad. The pliable minds of tomorrow's leaders will be molded either artistically or grotesquely by what I do.
Several future presidents are learning from me today; so are the great writers of the next decades, and so are all the so-called ordinary people who will make the decisions in a democracy. I must never forget these same young people could be the thieves or murderers of the future.
Only a teacher? Thank God I have a calling to the greatest profession of all! I must be vigilant every day lest I lose one fragile opportunity to improve tomorrow.” - Ivan Welton Fitzwater
Schools in the 21st century are laced with a curriculum for life aimed at engaging students in addressing real-world problems, issues important to humanity, and questions that matter. In the 21st Century classroom, teachers need to be facilitators of student learning and creators of productive classroom environments.
The focus of the 21st Century classroom is on students experiencing the environment and challenges they will face when they enter the global world market as workers. The present curriculum used in this classroom aims to develop their higher order thinking skills, effective communication skills, and knowledge of technology that students will need in their workplace. This in turn sets the challenge for the teachers to embrace new teaching strategies.
It is said that teaching as a profession makes other profession. Teachers play a unique role of preparing students to become worthy members of all professions of the world. They therefore shoulder a responsibility and opportunity to mould future generations.
Need of the hour-Change in Teacher’s attitude
Just as the classroom is changing, so must the teacher adapt their roles and responsibilities? Teachers are no longer teaching in isolation. They now co-teach, team teach, and collaborate with other department members. The revised Blooms Taxonomy wants teachers to be creators of knowledge and thinking professionals (earlier the continuum of thinking skill would start from knowledge and ends at evaluation; but as per the changing times, the revised version starts from remembering and ends at creating)
With globalization we see an emerging ‘global society’ driven by technology and communication developments. This ‘global society’ is shaping the students as ‘global citizens’ and intelligent persons with multi-skills and knowledge to apply to the competitive and information-based society. Teachers today find themselves in an education system in which they are no longer the sole ‘fountain of information’ but the facilitators and pointers towards information. In view of these changing facts, we need teachers who can survive moreover excel in the present times.
In the present times, we need teachers who:
- Create strategic readers.
- Create strategic writers.
- Create independent thinkers.
- Create problem solvers.
- Give students the necessary knowledge and skills to enable them to become independent learners.
- Induce Critical Thinking and Problem Solving attitude
Needed traits of the 21st Century Teacher
- Driven to Learn - teachers must be driven to learn in order to teach effectively in the 21st Century. It is no longer acceptable to teach only from a textbook, to rely on the same worksheets and methods year after year without at least questioning them and researching why they are the best resource available. There is simply too much new information, too many new strategies, and new learning available to us to ignore the implications it may have for students in our classes.
- A Media Creation Expert - Whether posted online or simply used in the classroom, our materials must be highly engaging and effective. PowerPoint and Word are becoming antiquated as newer and more powerful presentation and editing suites become available to teachers. It is our responsibility to compete (where necessary) with the quality of video games and media construction in order to hook students into great learning. As media conscious teachers, we can win student attention by working with them, not against them, for their learning
- An Empathetic Mentor – “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.”Gone are the days when teachers dole out assignments and send students on their merry way. A modern educator realizes the plethora of factors impacting students in our current world, and strives to tailor learning where possible toward individualized needs and interests. This student-centered focus also creates learning opportunities for the teacher to learn with students, developing their teaching and collaborative skills.
- Reflective teachers - with the ability to comprehend the applied nature of education, and utilize the knowledge gained.
- Encourage students’ curiosity and intrinsic motivation to learn- The teacher helps students become independent, creative, and critical thinkers by providing experiences that develop his/her students’ independent, critical and creative thinking and problem solving skills. Students are actively involved in their own learning within a climate that respects their unique developmental needs and fosters positive expectations and mutual respect.
- Effective communication skills- We need teachers who has agility and adaptability, effective oral and written communication. We need teachers who can use language to foster self-expression, identity development, and learning in her students.
- Recognize and respect the individual differences- In schools, a teacher has to perform multifarious tasks for all round development of the children. Besides the normal day to day activities, it is their responsibility to handle children with special needs effectively in classroom as well as outside the classroom. These children may act and behave differently. They exhibit some special characteristics, which may be different from their normal counterparts. Therefore, the successful inclusion of children with special needs into the regular school setting is largely dependent on the attitudes of teachers and their recognition of the child’s right to participation.
“I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It's my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.”
- Dr. Haim Ginott
- Dr. Haim Ginott
To face the challenge of present times, our teachers need to keep abreast of what is happening in their field. As lifelong learners, they need to be active participants in their own learning and incorporate the traits needed to compete in present globalized world.