Today’s world is being shaped by rapid technological change. Children are likely to enter a jobs market many of their grandparents and parents would not recognise.
Equipping children for this brave new world will require teachers to have a mix of skills that have always been the mark of a good teacher, alongside newer traits that will help pupils thrive in the 21st century.
Here are five of those skills that every future teacher will need:
- Strong subject knowledge
Great teachers have always mixed a passion for and deep understanding of the subjects they are teaching. This becomes even more critical in classrooms equipped with computers and internet search engines, to help pupils understand and interpret the information they are accessing.
But a teacher isn’t just someone who can recite facts and rules. They must be someone who knows a subject well enough to understand what students can discover for themselves and what they need help with, enabling them to reach a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
Teaching students to develop themselves – to learn facts, and learn how to use them – will be essential so that they can develop the lifelong learning skills they are likely need as part of the workforce of the future.
- Being a facilitator
The role of teacher as facilitator is well established in many developed education systems.
Facilitating learning is not only important to encourage young people to be lifelong learners. It is also vital for developing the skills that will make students successful at work.
The US National Education Association says workforce skills and demands have changed dramatically in the last 20 years, with a “rapid decline in ‘routine’ work”.
In addition to the traditional and still important “three Rs” of reading, writing and arithmetic, schools should be equipping students with the four Cs of critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.
These skills’ importance are likely grow as mundane, repetitive tasks are removed by automation.
These are skills that cannot always easily be taught. Teachers facilitating students’ learning of them through methods such as group projects can help find solutions for real-world problems.
- Strong social skills
Being successful in the 21st century workplace is likely to mean mastering human skills such as communication and collaboration that cannot be replicated by machines, so it follows that teachers of futures will need to be experts at encouraging the social aspects of learning.
Social skills are already the traits that are most desired by many employers. A 2015 survey by the US-based National Association of Colleges and Employers found that, rather looking just for knowledge-based prowess, the top three skills employers wanted were:
- The ability to work in a team structure.
- The ability to make decisions and solve problems.
- And the ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization.
- External focus
To develop the desired traits and skills, teachers are going to need to become more focused on learning outside school walls.
A key part of this is likely to be applying learning to “real-world situations”, so that students understand the what happens in the workplace often needs to go beyond what happens in many academic settings.
For example, India-based teacher Kiran Bir Sethi, a 2015 top 10 finalist of the Global Teacher Prize, sought a new way of teaching that would enable her pupils to explore the world creatively . She developed a simplified Design Thinking approach that leads students to understand empathetically rather than just intellectually, and puts academic learning into a real-world context.
Her ninth-grade students learning about the water filtration process visit low-income communities to find out about the quality of drinking water available there. They then use their classroom knowledge to build prototypes of water filtration machines that can be used by communities.
Looking beyond the classroom walls may also mean rethinking the way lessons are taught. In the “flipped classroom” concept, traditional “teaching” take place outside school and “homework” is done in the classroom. In this model, direct instruction is delivered by video content to be viewed before lessons, freeing up class time for activities that allow deeper exploration of content.
Source: Shutterstock Credit: Monkey Business Images
- Data analysis
Technology is already helping many in the business world to monitor and improve their corporate performance by gathering better and more in-depth data, and its importance in education is increasing. One report estimated global spend on EdTech will be more than $19 billion by 2019.
Just like businesses, teachers will need to use data analysis to spot students having difficulties and help them to achieve their potential.
As more and more of children’s learning – be this essays or tests – are delivered online, teachers are going to be faced with an ever-growing stream of student performance data and they will need to become adept at using tools to analyse this information.
The Global Education and Skills Forum is taking place on 17th and 18th March 2018 in Dubai, UAE, with the theme of “How do we prepare young people for the world of 2030 and beyond?” Register your interest here.