By Teachers, For Teachers
No one can be certain what education and our requisite teaching strategies will look like in the future, but we can guess that technology will sure be a part of it. One thing that we can be certain of is that we will need to use teaching strategies that instruct the skills that our students will need in order to thrive, not in only in school, but in their jobs as well as their lives. The world needs leaders, individuals who can problem solve, communicate with others, and work within a team. It needs people who know their way around digital technology, who have global and cultural awareness, and who are innovative. In the past, education has been all about reading, writing, and arithmetic. However, in today’s world, our students need more than that to thrive in school, work, and life. Here is a 21st-century teaching strategies list to help you get today’s students ready for tomorrow.
Experts have warned that our country’s children need to improve their 21st-century skill set in order to thrive in the future. If there isn’t any improvement soon, then educators, politicians, policymakers, and experts say our children won’t be adequately prepared for school, the workforce, or life in a digital economy. Here are the top essential skills that will help prepare students for the future.
The world needs leaders. Not just people that are good at directing others, but people that can work collaboratively. Individuals that thrive at helping others work toward common goals. Some ways that teachers can foster leadership in the classroom is to create opportunities where students are put in charge. From heading a small cooperative learning group to handing out papers, involving students in a leadership role will not only give children more confidence, but it will teach them how to handle responsibility too.
The first thing that usually comes to mind when you hear the words “Problem solving” is math. While you do need this skillset to help you with math, you also need it as a general skill to help you with life. Children need to be taught how to identify problems and solve them. One way we can teach children in the classroom is to help them identify a problem, figure out their viewpoint on it, then generate ideas for possible solutions to the problem. They can develop a plan for how they will carry the solution out, then reflect upon it. Having this skill set is invaluable and will help build confidence and self-esteem.
Effective communication, as well as the ability to work well with others, is on the 21st-century skills list because being able to share information, as well as listen to others without judgment, is a fundamental skill that everyone should possess. These two skills are closely aligned because without communication, you will not be able to effectively work within a team.
One of the best ways to teach these skills is to place students into groups with others that they share nothing in common or who are unknown to them. When there are barriers in communication, such as different cultural languages or physical or mental abilities, students will learn to overcome these obstacles in order to effectively work with, and communicate with, their teammates. Teach students techniques to successfully communicate in all situations and have them reflect upon their actions. Helping students overcome communication barriers is an invaluable tool that they can carry with them in school and beyond.
It’s more important than ever for students to be digitally aware. This includes the ability to use digital technology to locate and create information. It also means the ability to manage, find, and store information. In addition to that, students must have the ability to safety communicate, interact, share, and connect with other digitally, as well be aware of their digital footprint (the online data that their online actions leave). One way to teach this in the classroom is to go to Digitalliteracy.gov. This website has the tools and is readily available to teach students everything they need to know about digital technology.
Another component of the 21st-century skills list is the ability to be globally and culturally aware. Regardless of where you live in the world, having the ability to be culturally aware is an asset to working across all cultures. If you lack awareness, this can lead to miscommunication. Ensure that your students are fully equipped with a set of skills that will help them successfully work with other cultures. You can do this by having students participate in cross-cultural programs to increase their awareness, and by creating opportunities for students to learn more about other cultures such as having them Skype or videoconference with their peers across the globe.
In this 21st-century economy, the ability to be innovative is an essential skill. The United States is falling behind globally, and by 2020 China is expected to outpace us. Unfortunately, this burden falls on today’s generation of students. So it’s up to today’s teachers to foster innovation by teaching students to be creative. Teachers can do this by integrating more hands-on activities, keeping a flexible classroom, and using unconventional learning materials. Getting students to think more outside of the box will help them become more innovative learners.
Do you incorporate these teaching strategies into your classroom? What skills do think are important in our students’ future? Please weigh in by commenting your thoughts below.
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 Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.