Visualising 21st century Teaching
As we are moving briskly into the 21 century education system across our schools, it turns imperative to realize how important it is for leaders, teachers, school administrators and parents to realize and know where we are heading in terms of education, particularly, primary and secondary education.
Since we are almost at the end of the first two decades of the century it becomes crucial to foresee the socio- historical context and predict, anticipate and visualize the 21st century education scenario: teaching-learning processes, pedagogical methodologies and practices, the role of technology and media and the impact of globalization.
Nowadays, at the beginning of the new school term, our school is holding teachers sessions on how to question the learners and enable them to get their answers. But besides asking and giving the learners a plethora of questions our educators, administrators, policy makers, teachers and stakeholders need to answer many questions themselves on the prospective relevance of teaching paradigm for the new century learners. I have some questions:
- What do you need to teach your children to make them 21st century learners?
- Why is it necessary to teach them the way they want to learn?
- When and how will the learners be able to apply their learning experiences?
- How will the learners fulfill their learning goals?
- How do you plan to prepare the learners for life and living?
- Are you preparing children for their age or yours?
Teaching to Change and Changing to Teach:
Almost all the working teachers in our schools having countable number of years of experience have degrees and diplomas to their credit enabling them to get into teaching profession. We come across many learners and see that we have new challenges and obligations towards our learners each year they spend with us. The degrees, diploma or experience we have may turn to be out dated until we update our professional competencies and skills to cater to the needs of 21 century learners.
I was watching and observing our ever busy school gardener, Hari Ram rinsing and polishing the flower pots and filling them with new fertile soil for the new season’s saplings to grow. Similarly, the best way to shine up your profession is to remove the scratches of the obsolete past on it, to learn anew to shine your profession. One needs to learn first what, whom, why, where and how to teach in the changing scenario. Just act on the following inspiring words by author, speaker and Pastor John C Maxwell – ‘You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine’.
Develop Passion for Teaching and Learning:
I love opportunities to help, instill and encourage passion in teachers. There is nothing more exciting than watching a passionate teacher engaging students who are eager to learn as a result of that teacher’s enthusiasm. I am in my 19th year in education and my 10th year as a English Language teacher in this school, and I remain just as excited about what I do today as I was the first day I entered this school.
Building relationships and working hand-in-hand with students and teachers has allowed me to continuously improve myself and influence a positive change in school culture that supports sustainability. Our change and school improvement efforts have been successful because we have created an attitude, climate, and culture where teachers believe in students and students believe in them. We provide students with high-quality, engaging instruction in a safe and supportive environment, and we learn together, grow together, and have fun together. Students and staff members alike, sixth grade or eighth grade, or anyone working in school, know that we are truly working together to achieve our mission of striving to reach and motivate students.
We live in a world where information and knowledge is now available to us at the speed of light. Digital revolution has tremendously encompassed our children who are techno-smart and eager to embrace this wonder of science. Despite the best infrastructure and accessibility available around us, our teachers are still not in the Techno Savvy Mode. Since we have been lifelong learners, I get worried when I find some teachers not having an email id or have no firsthand experience of operating a computer.
In our times the peak of technology was chalk and black board but today we have technology tools like interactive whiteboards, projectors, computer, video camera, etc. I would like the teachers to try this link provided by Edutopia and test their techno-skills online to know where they stand in technology use in their classrooms. http://www.edutopia.org/quiz-tech-savvy-teaching
Focusing on Customized Teaching:
The special effects of personalized teaching on students’ routine and performance have been well documented. What may be less understood and perhaps as important for the long-term feasibility of it, customized teaching is, in practical terms, focusing in a more structured way on each child’s learning in order to enhance progress, achievement and participation. All children and young people have the right to receive support and challenge, tailored to their needs, interests and abilities. This demands active commitment from pupils, responsiveness from teachers and engagement from parents.
Teaching in the 21 century focuses on education services that are designed around the needs of each child, with the expectation that all learners achieve high standards. All children and young people leave school with functional skills in core subjects, understanding how to learn, think creatively, take risks and handle changes. Teachers use their skills and knowledge to engage children and young people as partners in learning, acting quickly to adjust their teaching in response to pupils’ learning.
Paving the way for Authentic Teaching:
Authentic teaching basically focuses on giving children real experiences, finding complex problems and their solutions; authentic learning encourages probe and participation. Students of today express their preference for doing rather than listening. What they know from their teachers the same they want to test and apply to prove its validity. A well articulated and planned teaching on giving children real learning experience brings about tremendous lifelong learning. In comparison to chalk and talk and plain teaching, it has far reaching positive effects as it enhances learning.
- Cognitive capacity to think, solve problems, and generate
- Affective capacity to value, appreciate, and care
- Psychomotor capacity to move, perceive, and apply physical skills
- Combative capacity to act, decide, and commit.
Teaching Life Skills:
Outside the boundary walls of school, our children live in highly complex environments and therefore, face difficult times when they have to take crucial decisions with regard to their life and living. There are three basic drawbacks in our teaching which become manifest when our children step out of the school. The first problem they face is to decide what to do next, what they have in them to do and how to manage with their learning experiences.
Most schools nowadays just compete with each other in terms of success in grades or percentage of marks. No doubt academic achievements help a child to establish but life skills make him the best human being. Teaching without personal, moral, social and emotional skill education, is one sided.
Teaching to Develop a Progressive Future Vision:
Around the world, teaching in schools is undergoing a dramatic shift. Government of India in a move to develop the dynamic vision of education has the New Education Policy focusing on the holistic learning needs of the 21 century generation. It will be the responsibility of educationists, educators and teachers to shape it to meet the new challenges of this century.
Building of a progressive teaching vision seems to be a herculean task in the metaphorical sense of the phrase as it needs to amalgamate the present scenario with the future. By the year 2020 onwards, the median individual in India will be 29 years. Besides there will be more diversity issues emerging demographically on gender, economic status, health, employment levels. Therefore, again education and teaching scenario will be a more challenging issue. New Education Policy will open before us myriad expectations. So we have to prepare ourselves to embrace these challenges.
Before I wind up, there is a message I would like to share with all the teachers to remind them that children need their love, patience, compassion and care, to blossom and spread their supple branches in all directions. They need to rise up and fill your garden with beauty and fragrance. The ongoing month is full of summer season’s festivities and children are looking forward to plan summer holidays but for teachers, educators, administrators, it is the time to see wider and shape the nation through education.
When I was taking a round of our school building in the evening as the children and teachers in their hostel rooms were about to get lost in their dream world, I stood near a board displaying the lines of Robert Frost –
The Woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Teaching out of the Box:
Out of the Box Teaching uses a holistic approach tailored to meet the student’s individual learning needs and styles. Curriculum! Lesson plans! Teaching! Learning! Assignments! Revision! Class tests! Exams! Grades! Percentage! and result! Is this total teaching pattern of your profession? Just think more and exceptionally new and different?
Remember, teaching strategies don’t always have to be straight from the text books. Yes, there are wonderful tools and ways to give and share information with illustrations, real objects; group activities need to be performed in your school lawn, playground or in the town, streets where the children learn by performing not by conforming to sit and listen to teacher’s lecture. Teaching out of the box encourages critical thinking skills, problem solving abilities, and engagement that is needed to ensure students retain information. Don’t be afraid to go outside the box and be a little silly in your teaching. You’ll be surprised how much a little bit of creativity helps your students learn more.
Ashok Singh Guleria teacher of 21 years standing is a post- graduate in English Literature. He writes on pedagogical issues and children’s behavioural concerns. He has worked as Head of Department of English, curriculum planner and Academic coordinator cum Teachers’ Trainer at the Akal Academy Group of Schools run by Kalghidhar Education Trust, Baru Sahib, at Kajri in Uttar Pradesh. Currently he works as Principal at Akal Academy, Gomti.
The author strives to develop and facilitate the building of a robust and sustainable teaching-learning fraternity embodied with a strong sense of work culture through which initiative and change can emerge in an educational institution. He can be reached out at firstname.lastname@example.org