If you ask a group of people what the roles and responsibilities of a teacher are, you’ll get varied responses. Some would say their role is to plan lessons, deliver instructions, and assess students learnings. Others would say their key role is to manage the classroom environment. What most people can agree on is that the classroom is a space where teachers pass on knowledge and skills to students that they will be able to use at a later time.
But, if a large proportion of teachers are still receiving the same training, following the same curricula, and using the same teaching methods, how can children adapt to the ever-evolving world we now live in? Here, we’re going to delve deeper into the role of the modern day teacher in the United States.
Using New Methods to Encourage Learning
Today, experts, enthusiasts, politicians, and various other entities are coming up with new solutions and programs in the hope of revolutionizing the American education system. Instead of using old-fashioned methods, they’re using new tools and techniques to equip children with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century.
One example of this is student-led learning. Empowering students with direct ownership of the learning experience teaches them more than just subject matter. Instead, they learn skills like leadership, organization, time-management, among others. With this in mind, Michael Harding conducted a study back in 2009 whereby he introduced student-led learning into his classroom to evaluate the short, mid, and long-term effects.
While there was no conclusive effect on mid and long-term learning, in the short-term, student-led instructors out-performed their peers by 11%. Additionally, student taught classes performed better than their peers. And, above all, the survey showed that most students felt they had a better understanding of the subject they were taught. They also felt more confident in their class and could recall the information better at a future date.
This new method of teaching equips students with personal skills that will transcribe into their adult lives. Confidence, leadership, autonomy, and public speaking are just some of the skills that will help them succeed in their future careers.
Working as a Facilitator Rather Than an Authority
Have you ever seen a child scared of their teacher? Maybe your son or daughter came home from school and told you they were. Teachers who use fear tactics in the classroom often end up with students who are less motivated. They also have lower test scores.
Today, teachers can better engage their students through high levels of support, structure, and autonomy. Better yet, this new style of teaching encourages a better quality student-teacher relationship.
Take our near-peer mentoring model for example. Our mentors receive rigorous training to ensure they’re providing the best possible guidance to their students. While they teach the particular skills and knowledge that are necessary for a task, they then only offer support and guidance when needed. Instead of acting as a dominant expert, student and mentors are peers working towards the same outcome.
Preparing Students for a 21st Century Career
Before, having a successful career involved going to college, starting in an entry-level role within a company, and climbing up the corporate ladder. Companies would hire based on a person’s degree and help them develop into more permanent roles within their organization. Now, this model is becoming less and less popular.
Companies depend less on their corporate ladder. In fact, making upward progression is less important and common. Sometimes, a company will hire someone fresh out of college because they believe them to have the skills that many older people do not. Not only this, today’s careers have become increasingly diversified. Thanks to new teaching methods, programs, and various other resources, children may not have to stick to one predefined and static career path. They will be able to pursue several multidisciplinary jobs.
With the above in mind, we need teachers that are capable of developing learning plans that will cater to these new and adaptable adults. It’s important teachers know that some of their students may become doctors, others engineers, some makeup artists, and other journalists. They must design learning units that prioritize the skills that students will be able to use in various different disciplines. These must include problem-solving, thinking, communication, and various other personal skills.
We’ve touched on the need for alternative methods of teaching as well as the current changes in the corporate world, but what about the common topic, technology?
In 2015, more than 60% of children aged 3 to 18 had internet access at home. Also, the average age a child gets a smartphone is now 10.3 years. With this in mind, teachers need to adapt their lessons and curricula according to the evolution of today’s digital natives. But, successful technology integration is about more than getting the tools into the classroom.
Teachers need to choose tools that will encourage students to take control over their own learning. They also need to go for those that encourage student-centered, project-based learning. Also, these tools need to teach skills that align with the modern day career.
Let’s take computer and website designers as an example. Today’s designers learned from college, university, and various online courses in their adult years. In fact, many of these acquired the skills through self-learning once they’d already finished their university degrees. Luckily, teaching skills like coding to children is easier than ever before.
Aside from opening the door to thousands of business opportunities, through coding, kids learn critical thinking, persistence, problem-solving, maths, creativity, and many other skills. And, remember, coding is just one example. There are hundreds, if not thousands of ways teachers can integrate technology in the classroom without breaking the budget.
The Modern-Day Teacher Needs to Be Forward Thinking
The learner in the 21st-century classroom and expectations of what successful students look like have changed. Because both of these are continuing to evolve, modern-day teachers need to adapt their methods of teaching if they want to engage their classroom and help shape the future of our country.
With the help of professionals with experience successfully implementing modern programs and tools into the classroom, you can learn what your school needs to do to give your students the best chance of being successful in later life.