By Essie Bester
The skills teachers need to be successful are changing due to the influence of technology, our changing social environment and the accompanying changes in teaching methods.
Over and above this, it is your duty as educator to prepare your learners for what their future employers will expect of them. Everything indicates that higher cognitive skills will be required.
According to experts, the list of skills includes critical thought, creativity, cooperation, communication, information literacy, media literacy, technology literacy, flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity and social skills.
If you as teacher therefore want to play a substantial role in your learners’ lives, you are expected to:
Firstly, see to it that the above-mentioned skills are reflected in your own activities.
Secondly, you have to pay attention to the role that technology plays in your learners’ lives. This does not mean teaching them how to use technology. You have to help learners to question all the technology and information to which they have access critically, instead of simply accepting everything.
21st-century teachers are expected to show learners that it is possible to surmount the demands of modern life and still develop as human beings and work on establishing a better future here and now.
In short, it is expected of you as teacher to become everything you want your learners to become.
To do this, you have to ask yourself which skills you have to develop and how to do it:
- Critical thought, cooperation, communication and creativity
Why do you teach the way you do?
How can you improve your teaching, seeing as you accommodate learners with different aims, needs, strong points and motivations in the same classroom?
If you make a greater effort to experiment with different ways of teaching:
Will your learners see the value of always being open to rediscovering themselves in an effort to remain abreast and relevant in a world of continuous change?
How do you communicate with your fellow-teachers?
To what extent are you prepared to share your work with others and reflect regularly on the way you do things? Are you curious and search for answers?
- Information, media and technology literacy
Can you dig deeper and separate relevant information from useless sources?
Do you really listen to others, regardless of your differences?
Can you use the available media to enhance your productivity?
Do you have practical experience of the technology to which your learners have access, or do you for example still use the excuse that you prefer paper?
Do you prepare learners and teach them to use technology to their advantage?
Does it contribute to their future employment prospects?
Do you use technology to your advantage in your lessons?
- Flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity and social skills
Are you open to change? Can you deviate from your plan?
Can you prepare lessons for learners without calling it “your lesson”?
Can you motivate yourself continuously to explore and find solutions to the daily challenges you have to contend with?
Do you take the initiative to begin a task? Are you proactive or do you wait to hear what you must do?
In this time of distraction, can you focus and make the best of the time that you have?
- Connectivity, emotional intelligence and self-responsibility
Do you utilise our technological era to come into contact with more teachers?
Do you take the time to get to know your learners and make contact with them, so that you can truly meet their needs?
Can you handle emotions and be professional at the same time?
Do you take responsibility for your conduct, for your development, for your success and failure? Or do you blame others?
Are you prepared to take a risk and move out of your comfort zone?
Do you criticise others or do you use your energy to build a positive work environment?
Are you truly a life-long learner?
Can you network and cooperate with others to try and bring about a better future?
Are you mature enough to be truly happy about the success of others?
Can you really be empathetic and understanding when you are confronted with something different from your familiar environment?
You as teacher are therefore expected to reflect on your practice and the skills that you advise learners to first develop themselves. In this way you empower yourself and you are enabled to better assist your learners.