After EdCamp Leadership ended I was inspired to push myself more beyond my comfort zones and grow. I had been thinking about doing presentations at conferences in the future, but why wait? An opportunity to submit a proposal to ECET2 NJ/PA came up and I am taking it. We will see if I am selected, but I am passionate about the topic: 21st Century Educators
We talk a lot about what 21st century learners need. We talk about what the future will look like, how these students will need to be creators, problem solvers, critical thinkers, and socially connected. We rarely talk about what kind of teacher needs is going to be able to meet those needs. How do we create a 21st Century Educator? Truly if we are to create 21st century learners they will need teachers to match!
So I spent about a day trying to determine what that even means! It cannot just be fancy jargon that we throw around, but it needs to actually mean something. I started thinking about some of the most important things a teacher would need if they were going to develop 21st Century Learners.
The first problem was to pinpoint 21st Century Learners. In my opinion, they are all of the things listed above and a few more. They also are embedded in technology. They will also need are a few things education must enable them to develop. Things like the ability to accept and collaborate with diverse populations, willingness to fail and learn, perseverance, the ability to see situations from many angles, and a desire to grow and improve that comes from within.
Educators to match these students needs will be vital in their development. At first glance you would think Superman would not be up to the task, but there are a few key attributes that will make these 21st Century Educators a good fit for a new type of student.
1. Have a growth mindset. Yes this is slightly jargon, so let me expand a little. Be willing to fail, learn, and improve until you succeed. Being able to model this process sets a great tone for students. Accept that you are no longer the expert in most areas, google is, and sometimes you are not even the best at it in the room, your kids are. Finally, be willing to make purposeful changes when the need arises.
2. Be connected(more jargon). Basically, the 21st Century Educator accesses knowledge, support, resources, and more at a moment’s notice. They are willing to share what they do so that others can learn, and you are willing to learn from others as well. With professional development becoming a 24/7 instant access kind of thing, connected educators will have to deal with one major problem, what do my kids need?! This is what should drive your choices in seeking professional development, nothing else.
3. Leverage technology. This might be embedded into the previous two ideas, but a 21st Century Educator needs to make technology work for them. While there are many tools technology can provide, the key is to make technology purposeful and valuable for both you and your students.
4. Be Reflective. There are so many tools available now to aid in your reflective process. Pick one, and use it diligently. For me, its blogging, for others it may be videos, info graphics, pictures, conversations, but whatever it is, use it! Use that reflective process until its so ingrained in your practice that you feel like something is wrong without it.
5. Buy my book (just kidding I don’t have a book…yet) but seriously, there are more amazing books out there than most of us can read in a lifetime, start digging into them and find ways to use the information in your class or school!
This is just my preliminary outline of ideas, but of course I am open to suggestions, changes, additions, and even subtractions, so long as it helps us develop the new learners we are looking to teach.