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15 Professional Development Skills for Modern Teachers

Janelle Cox

When schools are looking to hire a teacher, there are a few basic requirements that they are looking for: A College degree, experience working with children, and, of course, patience. Teachers need a variety of professional development skills along with knowledge of their subject matter and experience in order to be an effective teacher.

Likewise, as the rapid developments in technology infuse into our lives, they affect the way students learn and the way teachers teach. Modern teachers need to be competent in not only basic skills, but new skill sets.

Here are 15 of the many 21st-century professional development skills, or as we like to call it, “Modern skills” that today’s teachers should possess.

1. Professional Development: Adaptability

In this modern, digital age, teachers need to be flexible and be able to adapt to whatever is thrown their way. New technologies are developed every day that can change the way students learn, and the way teachers teach. Likewise, administrators are changing and updating expectations and learning standards. Being able to adapt is a skill that every modern teacher must have. If it’s being able to adapt to the way students learn, the behavior their classroom exhibits, or their lesson plans, it is a definitely a trait that is a must-have.

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2. Confidence

Every teacher needs to have confidence, not only in themselves but in their students and their colleagues. A confident person inspires others to be confident, and a teacher’s confidence can help influence others to be a better person.

3. Communication

Being able to communicate with not only your students but with parents and staff is an essential skill. Think about it: Almost all of a teacher’s day is spent communicating with students and colleagues so it is crucial to be able to talk clear and concise in order to get your point across.

4. Team Player

Part of being a teacher is being able to work together as part of a team or a group. When you work together as a team, it provides students with a better chance to learn and have fun. Networking with other teachers (even virtually) and solving problems together will only lead to success. Doing so fosters a sense of community not only in your own classroom, but school-wide as well.

5. Continuous Learner

Teaching is a lifelong learning process. There is always something to learn when you are teacher. The world is always changing, along with the curriculum and educational technology, so it’s up to you, the teacher, to keep up with it. A teacher who is always willing to go that extra mile to learn will always be an effective, successful teacher.

6. Imaginative

The most effective tool a teacher can use is their imagination. Teachers need to be creative and think of unique ways to keep their students engaged in learning, especially now that many states have implemented the Common Core Learning Standards into their curriculum. Many teachers are saying that these standards are taking all of the creativity and fun out of learning, so teachers are finding imaginative ways to make learning fun again.

7. Leadership

An effective teacher is a mentor and knows how to guide her students in the right direction. She leads by example and is a good role model. She encourages students and leads them to a place of success.

8. Organization

Modern teachers have the ability to organize and prepare for the unknown. They are always ready for anything that is thrown their way. Need to go home sick? No problem, they have a substitute folder all ready to go. Studies show that organized teachers lead more effective learning environments. So it is even more imperative to be organized if you want higher-achieving students.

9. Innovative

A modern teacher is willing to try new things, from new educational apps to teaching skills and electronic devices. Being innovative means not only trying new things, but questioning your students, making real-world connections and cultivating a creative mindset. It’s getting your students to take risks and having students learn to collaborate.

10. Commitment

While being committed to your job is a traditional teaching skill, it is also a modern one. A modern teacher needs to always be engaged in their profession. The students need to see that their teacher is present and dedicated to being there for them.

11. Ability to Manage Online Reputation

This 21st-century, modern teaching skill is definitely a new one. In this digital age most, if not all, teachers are online, which means they have an "Online reputation." Modern teachers need to know how to manage their online reputation and which social networks are OK for them to be on. LinkedIn is a professional social network to connect with colleagues, but Snapchat or any other social networking site where students visit, is probably not a good idea.

12. Ability to Engage

Modern teachers know how to find engaging resources. In this digital age, it is essential to find materials and resources for students that will keep them interested. This means keeping up to date on new learning technologies and apps, and browsing the web and connecting to fellow teachers. Anyway that you can engage students and keep things interesting is a must.

13. Understanding of Technology

Technology is growing at a rapid pace. In the past five years alone we have seen huge advancements and we will continue to see it grow. While it may be hard to keep up with it, it is something that all modern teachers need to do. Not only do you just need to understand the latest in technology, but you must also know which digital tools is right for your students. It’s a process that may take time but will be greatly influential in the success of your students.

14. Know When to Unplug

Modern teachers know when it's time to unplug from social media and just relax. They also understand that the teacher burnout rate is high, so it's even more critical for them to take the time to slow down and take a moment for themselves. They also know when it’s time to tell their students to unplug and slow down. They give their students time each day for a brain break and let them kick their heels up and unwind.

15. Ability to Empower

Teachers inspire, that’s just one of the qualities that come along with the title. Modern educators have the ability to empower students to think critically, be innovative, creative, adaptable, passionate, and flexible. They empower them to be able to solve problems, self-direct, self-reflect, and lead. They give them the tools both digital and knowledgeable to succeed, not only in school but in life.

Do you possess modern teaching skills? If so, which ones? Please share your comments in the section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.