We have heard alot about the 21st Century Learner. We know that they are:
  • collaborative
  • adaptive
  • information, media and technology savvy
  • communicators
  • immediate and instant
  • require instant gratification
  • creators and adaptor
But what about the 21st Century Teacher, what are the characteristics we would expect to see in a 21st Century Educator. We know they are student centric, holistic, they are teaching about how to learn as much as teaching about the subject area. We know too, that they must be 21st Century learners as well. But teachers are more than this
Characteristics of the 21st Century Teacher.

The Adaptor

The 21st Century teacher is an adaptor. Harnessed as we are to an assessment focused education model the 21st Century Educator must be able to adapt the curriculum and the requirements to teach to the curriculum in imaginative ways.
They must also be able to adapt software and hardware designed for a business model into tools utilisable by a variety of age groups and abilities.
They must also be able to adapt to a dynamic teaching experience. When it all goes wrong in the middle of a class, when the technologies fail, the show must go on.
As an educator, we must understand and apply different learning styles. we must be able to adapt our teaching style to be inclusive of different modes of learning.

The Visionary

Imagination, a key component of adaptability, is a crucial component of the educator of today and tommorow. They must see the potential in the emerging tools and web technologies, grasp these and manipulate them to serve their needs. If we look at the technologies we currently see emerging, how many are developed for education?
The visionary teacher can look at others ideas and envisage how they would use these in their class.
The visionary also looks across the disciplines and through the curricula. They can make links that reinforce and value learning in other areas, and leverage other fields to reinforce their own teaching and the learning of their students.

The Collaborator

Ning, Blogger, Wikispaces, Bebo, MSN, MySpace, Second life - as an educator we must be able to leverage these collaborative tools to enhance and captivate our learners. We too, must be collaborators; sharing, contributing, adapting and inventing.
external image secondlife-1.jpg

The Risk taker

How can you as an educator know all these things? How can you teach them how to use them… There are so many, so much to learn. You must take risks and some times surrender yourself to the students knowledge. Have a vision of what you want and what the technology can achieve, identify the goals and facilitate the learning. Use the strengths of the digital natives to understand and navigate new products, have the students teach each other. The learning pyramid shows that the highest retention of knowledge comes from teaching others. Trust your students.

The Learner

We expect our students to be life long learners. How many schools have the phrase “life long learners” in there mission statements and objectives. We too must continue to absorb experiences and knowledge. We must endeavour to stay current. I wonder how many people are still using their lesson and unit plans from 5 years ago.
In my subject area, Information technology and certainly in many of the sciences, especially the life sciences; knowledge, understanding and technology are fluid and dynamic, they are evolving and changing. To be a teacher here you must change and learn as the horizons and landscape changes.
The 21st Century teacher or educator must learn and adapt.

The Communicator

“Anywhere, anytime” learning is a catchphrase we hear often. Usually its paired with “life learner”. To have anywhere anytime learning, the teacher to must be anywhere and anytime. It does not have to be the same teacher, but the 21st Century teacher is a communicator. They are fluent in tools and technologies that enable communication and collaboration. They go beyond learning just how to do it, they also know how to facilitate it, stimulate and control it, moderate and manage it.

The Model

We must model the behaviours that we expect from our students. Today and tommorow more so, there is an expectation that teachers will teach values.
We, are often the most consistent part of our student life. Teachers will see the students more often, for longer and more reliably than their parents. This is not a criticism of the parents rather a reflection.
The 21st Century educator also models reflective practice, whether its the quiet, personal inspection of their teaching and learning, or through reflective practice via blogs, twitter and other medium, these educators look both inwards and outwards.
These teachers also model a number of other characteristics. These are not necessarily associated with ICT or the curriculum, but are of equal importance. They model:
  • tolerance
  • acceptance
  • a wider view than just their curricula areas
  • global awareness
  • reflection

The Leader.

Whether they are a champion of the process of ICT integration or the quiet technology coach, the ICT Trainer and a teacher leading by example; A maverick or early adopter (See LOTI), the 21st Century Educator is a leader.
Leadership, like clear goals and objectives crucial to the success or failure of any project.
*It is a good idea to view the PBS series Digital Nation for some thought provoking views on 21st education.

References and Acknowledgements:

For their advice and feedback
Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Rod Fee, Kim Cofino, Doug DeKock, David Truss

Video - Learning to Change