4 Replies Latest reply on Jan 10, 2012 8:51 AM by ottmamy@maryville.k12.mo.us

    Five characteristics of an effective 21st century educator- do you have what it takes?


      Today’s educators are constantly evaluating the skills students need  to compete in the global economy. But what are the characteristics or  skills needed to be an effective 21st-century educator?


      eSchool New recently asked readers: “What are the qualities of an effective 21st-century educator?” and here are the readers’ top responses. (Excerpt taken from the online source of eSchool News: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2011/09/09/five-characteristics-of-an-effective-21st-century-educator/?)


      You might have heard that an effective 21st-century  educator should be a “guide on the side,” not a “sage on the stage,”  but according to readers, there’s much more to it than that. For instance, one of the most common responses from readers was that 21st-century  educators must be lifelong learners … and should be willing to learn  not only from their peers, but from their students as well.

      According to readers, an effective 21st-century educator…



      1. Anticipates the future.

      “A  good 21st-century educator is one cognizant of the rapidly changing  technology trends; one in tune with the direction of the economy, and  future projected needs for business and industry; one aware of the  career opportunities for children in the coming years, and all of the  requisite educational skills and talents necessary to allow kids to  position themselves to compete. Good 21st-century educators are always  pushing the envelope to ensure that their students are not left behind  in the wake of progress; in particular, he/she is one advocating  constantly for change in educational thinking and planning to ensure  that a district’s sub-group kids (minority and/or students at the  poverty level) are not being left behind for lack of access to proper  resources to allow them to compete with their suburban  counterparts. Lastly, good 21st-century teachers are not teachers in a  vacuum; they are progressive in pushing for systemic change via  curriculum sequencing, prioritization of dollars, and prudent,  strategic scrutiny of decision-making to ensure that the preparation of today’s children is always focused on preparing them for the world(s) in which they will live and work—not the current world in which the teachers have to navigate and dwell.” —Amy Baldridge, secondary curriculum supervisor, Xenia Community Schools

      “The 21st-century educator must be a fluid thinker, ready to look at situations with fresh, creative eyes. He/she must go beyond the obvious to see the underlying patterns and core issues of a given circumstance. And—most  importantly—an understanding of chaos theory is essential: The  butterfly flaps its wings and 3000 miles away the weather changes.” —Donn K. Harris, executive director, artistic director, Oakland School for the Arts, Oakland, Calif.

      “Today’s  educators have the daunting task of preparing students for a future in  the global 21st century. As we begin to lag behind other countries in  the areas of math, science, engineering, and technology, we need to  educate ourselves and pass this information to our students stat. STEM education is necessary in all grades in all schools in order to remain competitive in this now global society. The first challenge for teachers is to attract our students toward STEM education, and the second is to keep them interested. An emphasis on science should be equally important as reading and math.  We, as a nation, are already falling behind other world nations.  Today’s students are our future, and our future depends on their  success.” —Bonnie Bahr, kindergarten teacher, Baltimore County Public Schools, Baltimore, Md.



      2. Is a lifelong learner.

      “I  have found that not only for teachers, but anyone involved with using  technology to enhance their productivity, whether it be in  manufacturing, sales and marketing, science and research, or education,  the most important quality is to be a flexible, life-long learner, willing to accept and embrace change, willing to make a mistake and be wrong (with the caveat that from those mistakes improvements are made and new  skills are learned), and to keep the focus on the process and the  outcome, rather than the tool. After all, when the day is over,  technology are simply tools to improve our quality of life; when they  fail to do that, it’s time to invent new tools.” —Chuck Dinsfriend, MBA, CTO mentor, director of Information Technology Services, Woodburn School District


      “A great … educator will embrace not only technology, but be willing to learn from colleagues and students.” —David Brandvold

      “I believe that a good 21st-century educator should be able to pose open-ended questions to students without having to know one exact answer. This educator fosters students so that they become the captains of  their own learning.  Learning becomes purposeful and meaningful for  students as they work through real-world activities.” —Jonna Wallis, 6-12 Language Arts academic coach, Professional Development Center, Scottsdale, Ariz.


      3. Fosters peer relationships.

      “In  this technology-driven era, it is more critical than ever that we  foster relationships with and between our students. We must model and  demand courtesy, we must model and demand communication, and we must  model and demand respect and cooperation—our students need us to show  them how to treat each other. They may have 500 friends on Facebook, but do they know how to be a friend? Technology  can foster isolation, therefore interpersonal relationship skills must  be taught in our classrooms so that our students can go on to be  effective in the workplace and fulfilled in their lives. Helping  students learn life’s lessons is becoming increasingly more  important—interpersonal relationships, letting students know teachers  genuinely care for them—and will help students be more successful in  life.” —Julia C. Bernath, District 7 board member, Fulton County Board of Education


      4. Can teach and assess all levels of learners.

      “21st-century educators must be ‘Situational Leaders.’ They must assess where each and every student they teach is at relative to ‘Learning Ability’ and ‘Commitment to Learning.’ They must work to bring all students up to a level  where pedagogical learning is replaced by andragogy or an adult learning  style, where students have a say in their own learning.” —Gerald Morris, adjunct instructor, Spring Arbor University, Davenport University and Baker College

      “To be an effective 21st-century teacher, a teacher must first possess the very same 21st-century skills that their students are expected to have. And, in addition to those skills, they must be able to help all of their students obtain and develop 21st-century skills.” —Mamzelle Adolphine


      5. Is able to discern effective vs. non-effective technology.

      “School-age  children are by far the fastest adopters of communications and  information technologies. The education system doesn’t need to teach  them how to use these technologies, but it should recognize that  technologies can help students learn more and faster. Classroom  technologies can also make more efficient use of a teacher’s time,  whether it’s with tools for lesson preparation, lesson presentation,  lesson feedback, grading homework assignments, assessments, or grading. The  effective 21st-century teacher will need to be adept in judging the  educative and non-educative use of technologies made available to them  and to their students at school and at home. The potential  downside of technologies is their potential for non-productive  use—wasting time and resources. The upside though, is significant if  used properly.” —Doug Hatch, president & CEO, Core Learning

        • Re: Five characteristics of an effective 21st century educator- do you have what it takes?

          I agree with the characteristics listed, but would like to add that there are characteristics of effective educators regardless of what century they are in, such as challenging students, encouraging creativity, bringing humor into the classroom, motivating students, caring for students, and communicating with parents. I would also like to add that I disagree with the statement in characteristic 5 (effective vs non-effective tech) that the education system doesn't need to teach school-age children how to use the technologies (supposedly the students already know how to use them effectively). I know that I spend a significant amount of time teaching students how to conduct effective research, use spreadsheets and other docs, shoot and edit video, etc. I am teaching digital natives and they teach me things all the time, but they still need instruction in the technologies they were born with.

          • Re: Five characteristics of an effective 21st century educator- do you have what it takes?

            21 Characteristics of 21st Century Learners


            Whether you are a teacher, a parent, an aunt or an uncle, it is  important to know that today’s students are wildly different in some  ways, from past generations.


            21st Century learners…

            1. Want to have a say in their education. They’ll respond better when their voices are heard.
            2. Often have higher levels of digital literacy than their parents or teachers. They don’t know a world without computers.
            3. Expect transparency in their parents, teachers and mentors. They’ll see right through you. (Makes it really hard to plan a surprise birthday party for them!)
            4. Want you to tell them when you have messed up, apologize for it, and move on. Everyone messes up. No big deal. Just don’t try to hide it. If you do, they are likely to post it on Facebook.
            5. Don’t care as much about having a job as they do about making a difference. The very concept of a “job” has changed so much in the past decade, the future is about making a difference.
            6. Demand the freedom to show their wild creativity. 21st century learners balk at rote learning and memorizing. They’ll do it if you make them, but be prepared to let them loose to be creative, too.
            7. Want to connect with others in real time on their own terms. They want their social media, their phones and their mobile technology.  They want to be connected. All the time. In a way that makes sense to  them (not necessarily to you).
            8. Collaborate amazingly well. They love teamwork and figuring things out with their friends.
            9. Really can multi-task. To do other wise is… yawn! Bo-ring!
            10. Appreciate a “trial and error” approach to learning new skills. Thank you, video-game industry.
            11. Learn by doing. Just try making them sit down and learn from you by watching. See what happens.
            12. Have a “can do” attitude. Of course, they can do it, silly! There is nothing to be afraid of.
            13. Thrive in an atmosphere of controlled challenge. They must be challenged or they zone out, but they need structure, too.
            14. Have multicultural awareness and appreciation. This generation is more aware of a variety cultures, countries and ways of life than any generation before them.
            15. Open to change. Really, what’s the big deal?
            16. Are equal parts “consumer” and “creator”. Today’s learners download their own songs and apps from iTunes… and  then they create their own stuff and upload it to share with others.
            17. Increasingly aware of the world around them. From the environment to politics, today’s learners are asking questions and demanding answers.
            18. Know where to go to find information. Google was first incorporated in 1998. 21st century learners have never known a world without Google.
            19. Are better educated than any generation before them. (See #17.) 21st century learners really do know more than their parents (but that doesn’t necessarily make them wiser!)
            20. Expect inter-disciplinarity. It is we, the older generation, who organize topics into “subjects”.  The 21st century learner understands that subjects are inherently  interconnected. Like, duh!
            21. Know that they are the future. They look at their parents and their peers and understand that the  world’s future rests in their hands. (Wouldn’t it make you just a little  bit cocky, too?)
            • Re: Five characteristics of an effective 21st century educator- do you have what it takes?

              I had to laugh at number 3...Foster Peer Relationships.  It's absolutely true that technology can hinder actual communication.  This past Christmas my 10-year old son got a cell phone.  A few days later, as he's trying to organize an outing with a friend via texts, my husband finally said "CALL HIM!"  Several 10-year old to 10-year old texts into their "conversation" and the boys were still no further in the developing their plans.  It was almost as though they'd not even thought of having a "real" conversation!  I remember actually being taught how to answer a phone call or how to take a phone message.  Today, if our phone actually rings at home, it's more than likely a sales call.  I am the biggest fan of technology and the "magic" it can bring, but I also think kids should be intentially schooled in social skills and being good communicators too.