21st-Century Learning Skills for K12 Teachers

Needless to say, how important teachers are, and how important is their role in shaping our career and life! Good and wholesome learning begins with a sensible, well-cultured, and well-qualified teacher, influencing the entire flow, quality, and the volume of learning. However, only being well-versed with the subject matter and being able to teach students does not suffice. Technology is one vital factor spreading its wings across the educational horizon, and therefore it has become binding for teachers to keep up with technology, and be adept at it. But wait! Learning technology alone does not serve the purpose. What completes the learning circle is the clever integration of technology in the various learning techniques and thus delivering an output benefitting the students.

Yes, the 21st-century offers a lot of challenges, as well as opportunities for all the educators who wish to come out of hibernation, and explore new avenues within the education domain. Easier said than done, accepting technology into the routine is not as easy as it seems to be. Teachers are expected to undergo a complete transformation to melt themselves into the new tech-savvy teaching and learning culture. For the ones, who are completely new to the transition may find it even more challenging. But, that is the only way out! And, guess what, it is benefitting in many ways. So what are 21st century skills need to be developed by K12 teachers? Here’s more to it.

Learning Technology and Digital Skills

No exception and no excuses! Learning technology refers to information and technology literacy, and which is imperative. Teachers who’ve been hesitant all the while to use computers need to step forward and learn the application of computers and various technologies used in the teaching and learning process. On the other hand, a slightly advanced generation of teachers, who are well-versed with the basic application of word and spreadsheets, needs to uplift itself to learn the advanced aspects of educational applications and technologies. They need to learn advanced technologies such as cloud storage, use of social media for learning, web and image editing, different types of presentation tools and software, etc. Besides, they also need to learn the techniques of integrating technology with learning and make learning an informative, enlightening, and the same time, an enjoyable experience for all the students.

Use of Smart Devices

Of course, it is up to us what we do with the gadget or the device in our hands. Smartphones and smart gadgets supporting better learning and teaching should be used in the classrooms. Every student comes from a different background, and therefore is required to be looked at differently. Teachers becoming adept to the use of smartphones for query clarifications, meanings of difficult/ new words, explaining concepts through intriguing, and relevant videos would actually help every student understand what is taught, rather only a couple or perhaps a few more of them, getting the knack of it.

Paperless Teaching

Teaching until the last generation indulged a lot of papers for lessons, practice and for students to write. However, with the advent of EBooks, the scene is gradually changing, with most students preferring to learn through the EBooks in their smart devices, thus promoting paperless teaching and learning. Teachers here need to get familiar with PDFs, preparing and running presentations, using word documents and the application of various features enhancing the knowledge sharing part. The importance and presence of physical textbooks can never be discounted though!

Collaborative Skills

Those days are gone when teachers used to prepare for the lesson all by themselves. In fact, the idea of involving students in preparing a lesson/ concept never occurred to the teachers from the last generation. But today, the picture is different. Teachers and students dwell on almost the same platform. Today, many teachers collaborate with students and prepare presentations, create digital resources, and projects. Involving students into the teaching planning process gives them an opportunity to closely understand the subject. However, collaboration should not be limited only to sharing learning documents with the students but encouraging active participation of students in all the activities involved in the teaching and learning process.

Ceasing Spoon Feeding

Open page 12, paragraph number 4, and see line number 6! This was a common sight in the traditional classroom I grew up learning. But, today things have changed. Teachers need to de-learn spoon feeding students. Today, students are well-equipped and well within the reach of every information required at their level of understanding and learning.

Teachers also need to understand the diverse requirements brought on the table by every student. Hence, a static learning program may not be as effective as a tailor-made one. Technology increases the possibilities of personalized learning, which empowers every student with the personalized attention (without being spoon-fed) of his/ her teacher. Every student, when given an opportunity to self-explore things, he/ she would own the learning process. Here teachers have a bigger role to play. It goes beyond teaching, termed as guiding and mentoring students.

Technology Security

The flip side of technology is comprised of the various virtual threats occurring on account of vulnerable and poorly guarded systems. Teachers need to take cognizance of such cyber threats, be able to explain the concept of IT security and the measures to prevent such attacks. This will create resilient and qualified users of technology in the years to come.

In the 21st century, teachers are expected to go beyond conceptual teaching. They are expected to help students learn the ways of dealing with real-world scenarios, through the medium of technology. Many teachers have started to realize the importance of developing 21st century skills. Are you already a part of it, or are you next?

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