I have read and researched the topic of sustainable change, deeper learning, and 21st century learning and within all of them, the changing roles of teachers are addressed. With the ready access of information through the internet, educators don’t need to transmit it, so you would think that teaching students may not still be necessary. This is far from the truth. Teachers are even more essential but their roles are changing. In order to meet the need to prepare students for the 21st century, teachers are essential to develop their pupils’ minds to be able to communicate, think creatively and critically, have a positive personal and cultural identity, and personal awareness and social responsibility. Children are not born with these skills which mean that they need to be taught how to acquire and develop these abilities and personality. This looks great on paper, but how do the teachers, who have been educating students a certain way, suddenly change their teaching practice to meet the new curriculum and assessments as well as prepare each and every one of the children in their classes to be ready to participate in this ever changing and more demanding society that we live in?
First of all, it is necessary to determine what the new skills that the teachers will need are? According to TNTP reimagining teaching (2014), teachers “still need to be able to maximize instructional time, teach rigorous content, ensure students are responsible for the thinking in the classroom, and provide multiple opportunities to demonstrate understanding. At the same time, certain competencies are even more essential to success in blended classrooms due to the complexities involved with delivering highly personalized instruction. These include:
· Classroom management
· Collection, analysis and effective use of data
· Risk taking
· Content expertise.”
Traditionally, teachers had to plan for daily lessons, however in the future; they will need to develop outlines and sequences of what big ideas and skills should be mastered by the students, while including a variety of resources and tools. It should also allow for differentiation when students’ need requires it. The classroom management skills will also be totally different as students will be working on different tasks, individually and within groups, and at their own pace. TNTP reimagining teaching (2014) states that “Teachers who are already strong managers will have a head start on these skills, but those who have relied on a tightly controlled, teacher-centric classroom management style may need more time and practice to fully master them.” However, if teachers set up expectations of how students should be engaged within the class, make sure students understand how to move along in the course, and help them become independent learners, it will make the new learning environment more manageable for students and teachers. The relationship between teachers and learners won’t be as much as leader-followers but more of co-learners and partners through the student’s learning journey. To help with the collection, analysis and use student’s performance data, teachers should incorporate technologies into the everyday routine. With this information, educators can determine where they need to provide support and guidance to their students as well as to how to personalize course delivery.
Furthermore, according to the authors, there are three types of practice development:
“Principles of practice development: commitment to practice development is important and can be viewed as a characteristic of an innovative school. Informal and formal learning opportunities should be backed up with time and funding. It is also important that professional learning experiences focus on the links between teaching activities and valued learner outcomes. There should be multiple opportunities for teachers to learn and an integration of knowledge and skills.”
“Leader-led: this can be seen to harness change in schools impacting on both improved teaching and also on learner outcomes. It can provide the organizational conditions that enable teachers to change. Leadership support is also required for ensuring that other resources, such as space, time and ownership, are available for teachers.
Peer-led: collaboration between teachers working in different schools, or between teachers and researchers, can support effective practice development by making classroom practice visible and providing a form of peer accountability.
Self-led: in this form of practice development, teachers work on their own or with others to reflect on their own practice to stimulate improvement. Reflective practice can be seen as a key element in sustainable change” (Maughan, Teeman, and Wilson, 2012).
In conclusion, in order for teachers to change their roles in the classroom, they will need professional development where they will learn about it and during which resources will be shared with them. Then, teachers will have time to collaborate among them and the technology department to practice their acquired knowledge, to develop course material but also to experience how to incorporate it into their teaching practice. In other words, teachers will have to be allowed to become learners if a sustainable change in their roles is to happen which has the ultimate goal to teach 21st century skills to their students.
TNTP. Nov. 2014. Reimagining teaching in a blended learning. Retrieved February 2, 2017 from http://tntp.org/assets/documents/TNTP_Blended_Learning_WorkingPaper_2014.pdf
Maughan,S. Teema, D. & Wilson, R. July, 2012. What leads to positive change in teaching practice. Retrieved February 3, 2017 from https://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications/RCTL01/RCTL01.pdf
Gotsey, M. March, 2015. The deconstruction of the K-12 teacher. The Atlantic. Retrieved February 2, 2017 from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/03/the-deconstruction-of-the-k-12-teacher/388631/