15 Characteristics of a 21st-Century Teacher (2024)

15 Characteristics of a 21st-Century Teacher (1)

Recent technological advances have affected many areas of our lives, including the way we communicate, collaborate, learn, and, of course, teach. Those advances necessitatean expansion of our vocabulary, producing definitions such as digital natives, digital immigrants, and the topic of this post—21st-century teacher.

As Iwritethis, I’m trying to recall if I ever had heard phrases such as 20th-century teacheror 19th-century teacher.Quick Google searches reassureme that there are no such word combinations. Changing 20thto 21stbrings different results: a 21st-century school, 21st-century education, 21st-century teacher, 21st-century skills. I searched for Twitter hashtags and Amazon books, and the results were just the same—nothing for20th-century teacherand a lot for21st: #teacher21, #21stcenturyskills, #21stCTeaching, andquite a few books on21st-century teaching and learning.

Obviously, teaching in the 21st century is an altogether different phenomenon; never before could learningbe happening the way it is now—everywhere, all the time, on any possible topic, supporting any possible learning style or preference. But what does being a 21st-century teacher really mean?

15 Characteristics of a 21st-Century Teacher

1. Learner-centered classroom and personalized instruction: As students have access to any information possible, there certainly is no need to spoon-feedthem knowledge or teach one-size-fits-allcontent. Students have different personalities, goals, and needs, and offering personalized instructionis not just possible but desirable. When students are allowed to make their own choices, they own their learning, increase intrinsic motivation, and put in more effort—an ideal recipe for better learning outcomes.

2. Students as producers:Today’s students have the latest and greatest tools, yet the usage in many cases barely goes beyond communicating with family and friends via chat, text, or calls. Even though students are now viewed as digital natives, many are far from producing any digital content. Theyown expensive devices with capabilities to produce blogs, infographics, books, how-to videos, and tutorials, just to name a few, but in many classesthey are still asked to turn those devices off and work with handouts and worksheets.

Sadly, oftenthese papers are simply thrown away once graded. Many students don’t even want to do them, let alone keep or return to them later. When given a chance, students can produce beautiful and creative blogs, movies, or digital stories that they feel proud of and share with others.

3. Learn new technologies:In order to be able to offer students choices, having one’s own hands-on experience and expertise will be useful. Since technology keeps developing, learning a tool once and for all is not an option. The good news is that new technologies are new for the novice and and experienced teachers alike, so everyone can jump in at any time. I’ve used a short-term subscription to Lynda.com, which has many resources for learning new technologies.

4. Go global:Today’s tools make it possible to learn about other countries and people firsthand. Of course, textbooks are still sufficient, yetthere’s nothing like learning languages, cultures, and communication skills by actually talking to people from other parts of the world.

It’s a shame that with all the tools available, we still learn about other cultures, people, and events from the media. Teaching students how to use the tools in their hands to visit—at least virtually—any corner of this planet will hopefully make us more knowledgable and sympathetic.

5. Be smart and use smartphones:Once again—when students are encouraged to view their devices as valuable tools that support knowledge (rather than as distractions), they start using them as such. I remember my first years of teaching when I would not allow cell phones in class and I’d try to explain every new vocabulary word or answer every question myself—something I wouldn’t even think of doing today.

I’ve learned that different students have different needs when it comes to help with new vocabulary or questions, so there’s no need to waste time and explain something that perhaps only one or two students will benefit from. Instead, teaching students to be independent and know how to find the answers they need makes the class a different environment.

I’ve seen positive changes ever since I started viewing students’ devices as useful aids. In fact, sometimes I even respond by saying, “I don’t know—use Google and tell us all.” What a difference in their reactions and outcomes!

6. Blog:I have written on the importance of both student and teacher blogging. Even my beginners of English could see the value of writing for real audience and establishing their digital presence. To blog or not to blog should not be a question any more.

7. Go digital:Another important attribute is to go paperless—organizing teaching resources and activities on one’s own website and integrating technology can bring students’ learning experience to a different level. Sharing links and offering digital discussions as opposed to a constant paper flow allows students to access and share class resources in a more organized fashion.

8. Collaborate:Technology allows collaboration between teachers and students. Creating digital resources, presentations, and projects together with other educators and students will make classroom activities resemble the real world. Collaboration should go beyond sharing documents via email or creating PowerPoint presentations. Many great ideas never go beyond a conversation or paper copy, which is a great loss. Collaboration globally can change our entire experience.

9. Use Twitter chats: Participating in Twitter chats is the cheapest and most efficient way to organize one’sPD, share research and ideas, and stay current with issues and updates in the field. We can grow professionally and expand our knowledge as there are great conversations happening every day, and going to conferences is no longer the only way to meet others and build professional learning networks.

10. Connect:Connect with like-minded individuals. Again, today’s tools allow us to connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Have a question for an expert or colleague? Simply connect via social media: follow, join, ask, or tell.

11. Project-based learning:As today’s students haveaccess to authentic resources on the web, experts anywhere in the world, and peers learning the same subject somewhere else, teaching with textbooks is very 20th-century. Today’s students should develop their own driving questions, conduct their research, contact experts, and create final projects to share, all using devices already in their hands. All they need from their teacher is guidance.

12. Build your positive digital footprint:It might sound obvious, but it is for today’s teachers to model how to appropriately use social media, how to produce and publish valuable content, and how to create sharable resources. Even though it’s true that teachers are people, and they want to use social media and post their pictures and thoughts, we cannot ask our students not to do inappropriate things online if we ourselves do them. Maintaining professional behavior both in class and online will help build positive digital footprint and model appropriate actions for students.

13. Code:While this one might sound complicated, coding is nothing but today’s literacy. As pencils andpens were the toolsof the 20th century,today’s teacher must be able to operate with today’s pen and pencil—computers. Coding is very interesting to learn—the feeling of writing a page with HTML is amazing. Even though I have a ways to go, just like in every other field, a step at a time cango a long way. Again, Lynda.com is a great resource to start with.

14. Innovate:I invite you to expand your teaching toolbox and try new ways you have not tried before, such as teaching with social media or replacing textbooks with web resources. Not for the sake of tools but for the sake of students.

Ever since I started using TED talks and my own activities based on those videos, my students have been givingvery different feedback. They love it! They love using Facebook for class discussions and announcements. They appreciate novelty—not the new tools, but the new, more productive and more interesting ways of using them.

15. Keep learning:As new tools and new technology keep emerging, learning and adapting is essential. The good news is: It’s fun, and even 20 minutes a day will take you a long way.

15 Characteristics of a 21st-Century Teacher (2024)


Which best describes the 21st century teacher? ›

The 21st century teacher is a lifelong learner. They don't just expect their students to be lifelong learners, but they too stay current and on top of what's new in education. Even though they may still use the same lesson plan from years before, they know how to change it to keep up-to-date with what is current.

Which characteristics is the most important in 21st century teaching and learning? ›

Empathic. The 21st century teacher models empathy every day and gives students plenty of opportunities to demonstrate it. Why is empathy so important? Because it is a natural companion to tolerance and the ability to understand the diversity in our world makes it easier to see things from multiple perspectives.

What are 21st century characteristics? ›

Critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning, analysis, interpretation, synthesizing information. Research skills and practices, interrogative questioning. Creativity, artistry, curiosity, imagination, innovation, personal expression. Perseverance, self-direction, planning, self-discipline, adaptability, initiative.

What is the characteristic of a 21st century teacher that is able to anticipate the future and plan for it? ›

A 21st century educator is able to anticipate the future and plan for it. They are able to push their students to ensure that they will be able to navigate their way through this ever-changing technological world. They have the ability to prepare students for the unknown based on current trends and technology.

What is the best characteristic of a 21st century student? ›

21st century learning is the constellation of learner characteristics which equips students to enjoy a high quality of life, work and relationships by being resilient, intentional, creative and confident learners who understand the value of collaboration, the relationship of effort to results and the need to be ...

What are the ten 10 characteristics of a 21st century teacher? ›

Here are the characteristics I believe you need to develop to thrive in the 21st Century.
  • Honesty and Integrity. ...
  • Ability to Trust and Empower. ...
  • Communicative, Collaborative and Connected. ...
  • Positive Energy. ...
  • Confidence. ...
  • Commitment and Persistence. ...
  • Willingness to Learn, Unlearn and Relearn. ...
  • Entrepreneurial, Creative and Innovative.

What is the characteristics of a 21st century educator that is resilient? ›

embrace change, seek new challenges, take risks, are resilient and face fears. They continually expand their teaching and learning both for themselves and their learners.

What are the 8 features of 21st century teaching and learning? ›

We go over some of the main innovative approaches that educators have forged over the last few years and that every 21st century teacher should be acquainted with.
  • Flipped Classroom. ...
  • Project-Based Learning. ...
  • Cooperative Learning. ...
  • Gamification. ...
  • Problem-Based Learning. ...
  • Design Thinking. ...
  • Thinking-Based Learning.
9 May 2019

What are the 12 qualities of 21st century leaders? ›

25 Essential 21st Century Leadership Skills
  • Leaders Serve. ...
  • Cultivate Courage. ...
  • Think in Terms of Relationships. ...
  • Create Value. ...
  • Advance Your Customers' Values to Create Value. ...
  • Vision Remains the Foundation of Leadership. ...
  • Make Management a Vital Part of Your Leadership. ...
  • Aim to be Best in the World.
13 Jan 2022

What are the characteristic of a teacher? ›

Some qualities of a good teacher include skills in communication, listening, collaboration, adaptability, empathy and patience. Other characteristics of effective teaching include an engaging classroom presence, value in real-world learning, exchange of best practices and a lifelong love of learning.

Why 21st century skills are important for teachers? ›

Not only do 21st Century Skills provide a foundation for successful learning in school, they also help to ensure students are successful outside of the classroom, in real-world scenarios in life and future workplaces where change is inevitable.

What is the most important characteristic of 21st century assessment? ›

The desired 21st century goals and objectives are clearly stated and explicitly taught. Students display their range of emerging knowledge and skills. Exemplars routinely guide students toward achievement of targets. that, my students will be guided with their achievements.

What does 21st century learning mean for teachers? ›

The term “21st-century learning” or “21st century skills” is generally used to refer to certain core competencies such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving that advocates believe schools need to teach to help students thrive in today's world. It marries content to necessary skills.

What is 21st century teaching and learning? ›

Twenty-first-century learning means that students master content while producing, synthesizing, and evaluating information from a wide variety of subjects and sources with an understanding of and respect for diverse cultures.

What are the 5 characteristics of 21st century? ›

Learners will have to acquire a set of skills and adopt certain characteristics in order to become successful in 21st century society:
  • Creativity and Innovation. ...
  • Collaboration and Communication. ...
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving. ...
  • Global Citizens. ...
  • Technology Literacy. ...
  • Lifelong Learners.

What are the 8 Habits of Highly Effective 21st century teachers? ›

Eight habits of highly effective 21st century teachers
  • Adapting. ...
  • Being visionary. ...
  • Collaborating. ...
  • Taking risks. ...
  • Learning. ...
  • Communicating. ...
  • Modelling behaviour. ...
  • Leading.
15 Aug 2008

What are the 7 C's of 21st century learning? ›

The seven skills are: • Collaboration • Communication • Creativity • Critical Thinking • Character • Citizenship • Computational Thinking If we believe our work as teachers is mainly to prepare students for successful futures, then we should give opportunities for students to strengthen these skills.

What is the most important skill required in 21st century? ›

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the most commonly cited 21st century skills.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Communication skills.
  • Creativity.
  • Problem solving.
  • Perseverance.
  • Collaboration.
  • Information literacy.
  • Technology skills and digital literacy.

What are the 4 characteristics of successful leaders? ›

Effective leaders are competent, skilled, secure, and considerate. These leaders find time for everyone; they are genuine and authentic in their communications and actions. People matter to them, and they openly demonstrate this fact to their employees.

What are the characteristics of a good teacher essay? ›

A good teacher is kind and understanding and has a passion in working with children. She speaks in a clear voice and is well prepared for lessons. She allows children to play as it is through play that children learn so many things such as social skills, problem solving skills and develop better motor skills.

How will you describe the 21st century education? ›

A 21st century education is one that responds to the economical, technological, and societal shifts that are happening at an ever-increasing pace. It's an education that sets children up to succeed in a world where more than half of the jobs they'll have over their careers don't even exist yet.

How would you describe a 21st century teaching and learning? ›

Twenty-first-century learning means that students master content while producing, synthesizing, and evaluating information from a wide variety of subjects and sources with an understanding of and respect for diverse cultures.

Which of the following describes the 21st century classroom? ›

A 21st century classroom incorporates modern technology into lessons to enhance students' learning and prepare them for a future in our tech-driven world. 21st century classrooms dive extensively into STEM topics, but also apply technology throughout all disciplines.

How would you describe the 21st century school? ›

Twenty-first century learning refers to developing learning, literacy and life skills as part of the classroom experience. Learning skills encompass critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication, which have been identified as essential for successfully adapting to modern work environments.

Why is becoming a 21st century teacher important? ›

The teachers are facilitators of the learning. The focus of a 21st century teacher is on student by developing higher order thinking skills, effective communication, collaboration, and other skills that they need in the 21st century. The teachers must develop new teaching strategies that are radically different.

What are the 8 critical attributes of 21st century education? ›

Terms in this set (30)
  • social. This element describes society as a whole. ...
  • technological. ...
  • economic. ...
  • ecological/environmental. ...
  • political/ legal. ...
  • 21st century. ...
  • integrated and interdisciplinary. ...
  • technologies and multimedia.

What 21st century teaching looks like? ›

The 21st Century classroom is student centered, not teacher centered. Teachers no longer function as lecturers but as facilitators of learning. The students are learning by doing, and the teacher acts as a coach, helping students as they work on projects.

Why are 21st century skills important? ›

As students develop skills such as critical thinking and perspective taking, they will be more flexible and adaptable in our constantly changing workforce, increase their ability to work cross-culturally, and be able to take on positions of leadership.

How do you implement 21st century skills in the classroom? ›

How to Implement 21st Century Skills in Class
  1. Make the experience personal. Our learners are our inspiration and our starting point. ...
  2. Provide authentic content. ...
  3. Opt for relevant and/or entertaining topics. ...
  4. Get into 'low-prep for you, higher-level thinking for them' mode. ...
  5. Give feedback. ...
  6. Reflect. ...
  7. Enjoy the journey!

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