21st Century Classroom: The Role of the Teacher
A growing number of business leaders, politicians, and educators are united around the idea that students need “21st century skills” to be successful today. It’s exciting to think that we live in times that are so revolutionary that they demand new and different abilities. But in fact, the skills students need in the 21st century are not new.
As education advances with the help of technology, it becomes very clear that the modern day classroom’s needs are very different from the conventional classroom’s needs.
The evolved 21st century classroom is a productive environment in which students can develop the skills they will require in the workplace and teachers are facilitators of their learning. The focus of a 21st century classroom is on students experiencing the environment they will enter as modern day workers, and developing their higher order thinking skills, effective communication skills, collaboration skills, making them adept with using technology and all other skills that they will need in the 21st century workplace.
The educational practices of the traditional classroom are no longer effective and teachers must develop new teaching strategies that are radically different from those employed in traditional classrooms. The modern day classroom should be more centred on students and teachers should take the role of facilitators and guides instead of being mere providers of knowledge. They must ensure that they engage their students in learning and provide effective instruction using a variety of instructional methods and following different pedagogical approaches aided with technology. They should be active participants in their own learning and must seek out professional development to improve their performance and their students’ learning.
A 21st century classroom has many characteristics associated with it that distinguish it from the classrooms of past centuries. The top 10 characteristics of a 21st century classroom are:
Student-centric: In these classrooms, students play an active role in their learning and teachers serve as mere guides. They are more facilitators of learning than lecturers. They help students think critically and learn by doing and act as a resource while their students discover and master new concepts. Student-centric classroom environments put students’ interests first and are focused on each student’s needs, abilities and learning styles.
Computing devices: Computers are readily available in modern classrooms, since they are essential tools for 21st century students and replace the utilities of pen and paper. They not only give students the means to conduct online research and master the technology skills they need, but they also give teachers the opportunity to enhance their lessons. The ability to deftly operate a computer is a critical 21st century skill. Computing devices greatly assist in teaching and learning and make them more engaging and effective.
Active learning: In modern classrooms, students are actively engaged in what they learn. Students participate in more active learning by working in groups or on computers and complete projects and other interesting activities that help them discover new skills. Students can learn actively by talking and listening, writing, reading and reflecting. When students are encouraged to take an active interest in learning, they are more likely to retain the knowledge they’ve accumulated.
Adaptive learning: Any classroom will always have students of different types of learning abilities in it, which often makes it difficult for teachers to make sure that all of them understand the concepts. The modern approach of adaptive learning gives students the freedom to learn at their own pace and in the way they are most comfortable with. There are various kinds of software available for adaptive learning that teachers can use to enhance the learning of their students.
Invitational environment: The classrooms should not be cramped or overcrowded. Modern classrooms should have the basic material required for teaching, such as interactive whiteboards and LCD projectors. The BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) approach can be adopted, so that students can bring their laptops or tablets to the classroom for better personalised learning. Teaching with technological material is more effective, stimulates student engagement, eases the work of teachers and makes it easy for students to focus on learning.
Students understand and follow the rules and procedures: The learning environment is carefully planned and well-organised. Class rules, procedures, and notices of upcoming activities are posted in convenient places to help students stay on track. Students are constantly encouraged to remind them of their goals and responsibilities. They follow class routines and understand what they are expected to achieve each day and how they are to go about it.
Mutual respect: Teachers and students should always have respect for each other. As now the role of teachers is no longer to be the sage on the stage, students should not forget their value, as they will always receive guidance from them. Also, teachers should encourage students to speak with confidence and value their opinions. In a well-disciplined environment, students should also co-operate with and respect their classmates.
Students take responsibility of their learning: As students are encouraged to actively participate in their own learning, they become responsible for their learning. Self-directed students not only encourage each other, but also work with their teacher to achieve academic and behavioural goals that they themselves have helped establish. Teachers should employ a variety of strategies to promote responsible decision-making and create self-reliant students.
Performance-based assessments: Regular performance-based assessments are carried out by teachers through various methods which are not restricted to tests. These can be by conducting quizzes and polls. Teachers can utilise projects as well as other products and performances as assessments to determine student achievements and needs. Assessments are tailored to the abilities and needs of the students.
Collaborative learning: Learning through collaboration is one of the most effective forms of learning. Teaching or learning in isolation is very restrictive and hinders progress. Learning in groups enhances the scope of learning and develops critical thinking. Collaborative learning activities include collaborative writing, group projects, joint problem solving, debates and more. Collaborative learning redefines traditional student-teacher relationships in the classroom.
Technology plays a big role in developing all of these characteristics for modern classrooms. These classrooms enhance the learning experience and better prepare students for higher education and being part of the workforce. Share your views and other characteristics that you would like to see in your 21st century classrooms. Please write to us with your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.