By Odetola Ebenezer Israel
I have so many questions in my mind about the importance of teaching as a profession.
In fact, to me, teaching is a calling. It takes a special person to dedicate themselves to helping guide our youth in their academic, social, and emotionaldevelopment
In its broadest sense, teaching is a process that facilitates learning. Teaching is the specialized application of knowledge, skills and attributes designed to provide unique service to meet the educational needs of the individual and of society. The choice of learning activities whereby the goals of education are realized in the school is the responsibility of the teaching profession.
In addition Teachers provide students with learning opportunities to meet curriculum outcomes, teachers emphasizes the development of values and guides students in their social relationships.Teachers employ practices that develop positive self-concept in students.
After all, we know there is much more to the job than imparting knowledge. In the nine hours a day children spend with us, we care for and nurture the whole child – not just their brains! As a friend of mine used to say: “We don’t teach science, math, and history – We teach kids.”
If you are new to the profession, I congratulate you on taking on this joyful and daunting task!
Here’s the most incredible news, though – There has never been a better time to be a teacher.
I know, I know — it doesn’t necessarily feel that way as you read the news and follow the heated debates about teacher accountability, performance pay, high stakes testing and the like. But there are some amazing, transformative changes happening in education now, and you are getting in on the ground floor. There’s a huge shift going on in the way the world learns and the way we’ll define “Teacher” in the future. It’s a shift that’s going to change the game completely and some of the current policy debates are going to seem totally outdated — even quaint — in the very near future. You have come just at the right time.
Just imagine . .
No longer do students have to sit in rows, dozing while you drone through the pages of your teacher edition. No, in your class, students can be directing their own learning as you question and encourage them, guiding their learning experience. Students in your class can learn required content through a 21st century learning filter that promotes the skills they will need to be successful in today and tomorrow’s world and takes full advantage of the connected learning potential inherent in the Internet and the World Wide Web.
What are these 21st century learning skills? While you may
Collaboration is the process of two or more people or organizations working together to realize or achieve something successfully. Collaboration is very similar to, but more closely aligned than, cooperation, and both are an opposite of competition.Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group.Teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources.
Structured methods of collaboration encourage introspection of behavior and communication. These methods specifically aim to increase the success of teams as they engage in collaborative problem solving.
Forms, rubrics, charts and graphs are useful in these situations to objectively documentpersonal traits with the goal of improving performance in current and future projects. Collaboration is also present in opposing goals exhibiting the notion of adversarial collaboration, though this is not a common case for using the word.
Communication is the process by which information is exchanged between individuals. It requires a shared understanding of symbol systems, such as language and mathematics.
Communication is much more than words going from one person’s mouth to another’s ear. In addition to the words, messages are transferred by the tone and quality of voice, eye contact, physical closeness, visual cues, and overall body language.
Experts in child development agree that all babies develop skills for spoken and written language according to a specific developmental schedule, regardless of which language the child is exposed to. Although the milestones follow one another in roughly the same sequence, there is significant variability from child to child on when the first word is spoken and the first sentence is composed.
Language employs symbols—words, gestures, or spoken sounds—to represent objects and ideas. Communication of language begins with spoken sounds combined with gestures, relying on two different types of skills. Children first learn to receive communications by listening to and understanding what they hear (supported by accompanying gestures); next, they experiment with expressing themselves through speaking and gesturing. Speech begins as repetitive syllables, followed by words, phrases, and sentences. Later, children learn to read and write. Many children begin speaking significantly earlier or later than the milestone dates. Parents should avoid attaching too much significance to deviations from the average. When a child’s deviation from the average milestones of development causes the parents concern, a pediatrician or other professional may be contacted for advice.
Critical thinking is described by Richard Paul as a movement in two waves (1994).The “first wave” of critical thinking is often referred to as a ‘critical analysis’ that is clear, rational thinking involving critique. Its details vary amongst those who define it. According to Barry K. Beyer (1995), critical thinking means making clear, reasoned judgments. During the process of critical thinking, ideas should be reasoned, well thought out, and judged.The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as the “intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.”
Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing.
Creativity begins with a foundation of knowledge, learning a discipline, and mastering a way of thinking. You can learn to be creative by experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesing information. Learning to be creative is akin to learning a sport. It requires practice to develop the right muscles, and a supportive environment in which to flourish.
Your ability to generate innovative ideas is not merely a function of the mind, but also a function of five key behaviours that optimize your brain for discovery:
- Associating: drawing connections between questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields
- Questioning: posing queries that challenge common wisdom
- Observing: scrutinizing the behavior of customers, suppliers, and competitors to identify new ways of doing things
- Networking: meeting people with different ideas and perspectives
- Experimenting: constructing interactive experiences and provoking unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills website breaks down each of these skills and provides valuable information and support for teaching and professional development. It is part of their Framework for 21st Century Learning, which also addresses other important learning goals such as global literacy and information, media, and technology skills. The artful 21st century educator teaches these skills while meeting curricular goals in the core subject areas.
Excited yet? I hope that you’re part of a forward-thinking school that encourages the development of these skills and supports the staff with appropriate professional development opportunities. However, there is a good chance that your school isn’t quite there yet. What can you do?
Don’t lose hope . . .
Stand by your beliefs and remember that it is all about your students. Igniting their passions and teaching them to become connected learners is a gift that will serve them well, no matter what the future brings. Keep finding ways to let students drive their own learning through inquiry and problem solving. Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious, and you will be there to show them that the learning opportunities are limitless. (If you need more encouragement, peruse the posts in this website by teachers like odetola Ebenezer and emmanuel korede who are finding the courage to make the shift.)
Teach your students how to safely and responsibly use the digital tools available to pursue their passions and find their voice. Share your experiences with your colleagues and invite them to collaborate with your class. Those that have been there a while may be a bit resistant, but you will find there is much you can learn from each other. Build that bridge. Don’t be afraid to play and learn with your students. Expect to experience failure along the way – It’s a good way to show your students that mistakes are a critical part of the learning process.
Feeling alone out there? Never! There is an enormous support system for you…
There are opportunities to get free professional learning platform through WhatsApp.
There are websites that provide motivation, information, and project ideas, such as Powerful Learning Practice and 21st Century Collaborative, Thinkfinity, 21st Century Schools, and Powerful Learning Practice’s Voices From the Learning Revolution. Creativemindeduco.com. printrest and more
So get excited. After all, teaching is the profession that creates all others… Can you believe they’re going to pay you to have this much fun???