Gone are the days when a teacher/ trainer would come to the class, read out a lesson from the textbook, give homework and leave for the day. Teaching and learning experiences today are far from being monotonous like earlier. The fact that there did not exist phrases like a 19th-century teacher or a 20th-century teacher, unlike a 21st century teacher, implies a lot about the evolving role of teacher/ trainer.
With the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 under implementation, 21st century skills, and a teacher’s capability to impart those to the learners has garnered even more importance.
“This Policy proposes the revision and revamping of all aspects of the education structure, including its regulation and governance, to create a new system that is aligned with the aspirational goals of 21st century education, including SDG4 while building upon India’s traditions and value systems”, mentions NEP 2020 policy document.
What are 21st century skills and why are they important
As observed across many industry sectors, there is an evident gap between the skills people learn at academic institutions and the skills people need at the workplace. Students often fall short of the skills, technical know-how and knowledge they will need to thrive in the industry.
Also, with the advancements in technology and the rapidly changing world of work, current students at school and higher education institutions will work in jobs that do not exist today. Therefore, they need to have certain skills apart from the subject knowledge to adapt to the changing times.
According to the World Economic Forum, a student requires 16 skills to survive in the 21st century. Some of these skills are – communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, adaptability, leadership, etc.
As noted in NEP 2020, it is the motivated, energized, and capable faculty that would be responsible for imbibing these among the learners through innovative pedagogical approaches. In this backdrop, let us learn more about what it takes to be a teacher in the 21st century.
5 Ways the 21st century teachers and trainers can master teaching in the 21st century classroom
1. Continuous learning and growth mindset
One of the most important skills to be possessed by a 21st century teacher is the skill of growth mindset and an attitude to be a continuous learner. With changing times and advancing technology, rigid teaching approaches might not work. Teachers are expected to be proactive, embrace change, be open to learning new techniques, and actively participate in teacher development programs.
The NEP 2020 also makes it mandatory for teachers to undergo at least 50 hours of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) opportunities every year which includes competency-based learning, and related pedagogies, such as experiential learning, arts-integrated, sports-integrated, and storytelling-based approaches, etc.
2. Promoting innovation and creativity
The changing role of teachers in a 21st century classroom pertains to creating an environment that fosters innovation and creativity among learners. 21st century teachers and trainers are expected to be facilitators who create opportunities for learners to think creatively, critically, logically and with an innovative mindset. This helps learners come up with innovative solutions for real-life problems.
3. Creating learner-centric classrooms
In a 21st century classroom, teaching in the method of one-size-fits-all may no longer work. Learners, today, are exposed to a plethora of information, anytime, anywhere, on almost everything, making it a challenge for teachers and trainers in making teaching interesting. In such a learner-centric classroom, a teacher is expected to be a facilitator in allowing students to make their own choices in learning based on their different personalities and guide them in making better choices for desirable learning outcomes.
4. Being tech-savvy and adaptive
Leveraging technology and being adaptive to changes is an unavoidable choice to facilitate learning based on students’ choices and unique personalities. Since technology keeps advancing, with new tools and apps being developed every few months, it is important to keep oneself updated and use it to support teaching efforts. Therefore, it is important for a 21st century teacher to be adaptive to changes and enforce positivity in teaching.
5. Collaboration and networking
A 21st century teacher must know how to effectively collaborate with not just students but also with like-minded educators, subject matter experts and others on a regular basis. Today, technology allows for effective collaboration in creating digital resources like presentations and projects with students or colleagues or experts. Through collaboration and effective networking, skills and knowledge of teachers and students can be enhanced, with new ideas and information being shared across.
Thanks to technology and social media that made it uncomplicated to collaborate and network with individuals and organizations across the globe. It allows teachers and trainers to connect with the rest of the world and be updated with advancements in their sector, and to be able to deliver the best to their learners.
As the 21st century classroom continues to evolve and change for the better, the only way for teachers and trainers to keep up with the changes is by being adaptive and embracing change. With changing times, there is not only one right way to teach. If you want to use social media for projects, go ahead. If you want to create shareable resources using an open tool, go ahead. A 21st century teacher is open to ideas, innovation, and anything else that contributes to better learning outcomes.