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18 Things a 21st Century Teacher SHOULD Do and HOW To Do Them!

18 Things a 21st Century Teacher SHOULD Do and HOW To Do Them!

DO you know what an IFTTT recipe is? What about how to App Smash something? The technology available at our fingertips is mind blowing, but all too often, we aren’t even close to using it to its capacity. As a teacher, I have seen my fellow colleagues beat their heads against a wall (metaphorically speaking) as they attempt to hold back the tide of technology as students try to help it wash into the classroom. What are we so afraid of? Surely it’s well and truly time to get ahead of the game and teach our students that their phones and tablets can be used for more than game playing and social media.

We are in the 21st century and we need to recognise that these devices can actually make our lives easier! We already know that students want to be using their devices, they also like the curiosity challenge, so we should be using this to our advantage. Before you know it, the kids will be on-task and with less behaviour management issues to deal with when we can make activities interactive & interesting.

For those who are struggling to catch up to an increasingly digital world, let me help solve the awkwardness for you. Here is a list of ideas that I gathered from HookED on Innovation, that help guide you from “what the heck does that mean” to “ah, so that’s how I can use this in my classroom.”

1. Post a question of the week on your class blog.

If you don’t already have a class blog, you should seriously consider it. Here’s a link which guides you through 15 blog sites you could use and explains the pros and cons of each. If you’re not sure what happens on blogs, here’s a link to some forward-thinking 21st century teachers with successful classroom blogs so you can get some ideas for what to include in your blog. This strategy is a great way to have your students own what happens in your classroom and hone their literacy skills! Happy blogging!

2. Participate in a Twitter chat.

Whether you are a tweet-a-holic or are still trying to understand what a #hashtag means, this link explains 50 ways you can use Twitter in the classroom. If you don’t even know how to get to Twitter, here is a helpful video that will guide you through where to find it and how to get started.

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3. Make a parody of a hit song.

A personal favourite of mine is Autorap, an iPhone app that lets you speak into the phone and automatically converts it into rap song and puts it to music! One of my year eight students showed me this app and it certainly changed how we do revision now. Sometimes the words are difficult to hear, so I like to make a quick movie to the soundtrack. Here is a link to an example, in which I used My Talking Pet, Windows Movie Maker and Autorap #AppSmash.

4. Create an infographic as a review.

Visual cues help us store and access information which increases the chances that your students will remember what you’ve taught them. If you’re not the creative type, you can use a free template, or make your own using PowerPoint. Infographics are a must for the 21st century teacher.

infographic

    5. Go paperless.

    In Australia, we use 2.4 million tonnes of paper each year. How much paper does your organisation use? Here are 15 tips for going paperless in your school.

    6. Create your own class #hashtag.

    This 21st century teacher strategy allows Twitter to categorise your tweets so they are all grouped together and easier to find. Here’s a quick link to get you started.

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    7. Integrate selfies into your curriculum.

    Show me a student who doesn’t like a good ol’ selfie and you’ve just found yourself an alien (or perhaps an undercover police officer). Using this strategy personalizes the learning and makes it more memorable. I utilised this strategy when my year 12 Science in Practice class had an assessment piece making a user guide for the equipment in our Performing Arts Centre. The photos they used needed to be authentic and recognisable as them using the equipment. It worked so well and really made sure they knew how to use the equipment rather than getting a random pic from Google. All you need for this one is a smartphone, iPod with camera capabilities, or if you go old-school…a camera.

    8. Curate a class Pinterest account.

    Using Pinterest with students allows them to collaborate with others to curate information. Critical thinking skills come in play when students locate, analyse, and select quality information for a board answering an essential question for a research project. Check out this guide for uses, project ideas and a rubric for assessment!

    9. App Smash something.

    It’s what the cool kids do! What is it? Content created in one app transferred to and enhanced by a second app and sometimes a third. Preferably the final product is then published to the web–remember, digital presence is the new résumé (CV). Here’s how to smash it up! Note: #2 uses App Smashing technology…look at you go already!

    10. Use Augmented Reality.

    Combine the real world and computer-generated realities for an interactive and mind-blowing lesson. You will surely look like a ninja with this strategy. Warning: your students are quite likely to be engaged…are you ok with that?

    11. Create an IFTTT recipe.

    What the heck is that? IFTTT (abbreviation of “If This Then That” and pronounced like “gift” without the “g”) is a web-based service which allows other services (e.g., Gmail, Google Reader, Instagram, Craigslist) to be programmed by means of simple conditional statements (called “recipes”). This strategy essentially packages everything that you are interested in and allows for some automation which is time saving! Here’s how to use it.

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    12. Perform in a lip dub video.

    Perhaps we’ll see this strategy in the 21st century school camps. It’s touted as a fun and unique way to bring your team together and learn how to work together. In the very least, it does look like fun!

    13. Create an ebook.

    With so many templates out there, making an ebook for your class work is definitely impressive. In Australia, ebooks represent about 10 percent of the market (Slattery, 2013). This means that the market has a long way to grow and teaching students this skill now could help develop a passive income strand before they are even out of high school. Flex your 21st century teacher muscles and use an app, or just make it in PowerPoint or Microsoft Word and save it as a PDF–it’s that easy! Snappy is also a great resource to use, when you click on it, it looks a little boring, but download the program and it’s super easy to use!

    14. Produce a class audio podcast.

    State of the News Media (2011) estimated there were 2,231 education podcasts produced. This is not many when you consider that Apple put the total number of podcasts at around 250,000. This 21st century teacher skill is a great way for students to show depth of understanding as well as to learn digitally relevant skills that could easily have them as the next Steve Jobs, before they even graduate. Here are some ways to get into podcasting.

    Podcast
       Image by Michael McLean

      15. Use a backchannel.

      How many times a day do you tell your students to put their phones away during their lesson? What if there was a way to harness that interest and propensity for conversation and tie it into your lesson? There is and it’s been around for a little while now; it’s called a Backchannel. While this sounds awesome, you need to put some constraints around it or your lesson will be lost forever. I learned this the hard way, in true ‘crash and burn’ style but I can tell you that it certainly is the fastest way to learn. I would definitely use it again with implementing some strategies before starting.

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      16. Create comics.

      Comics are the perfect way to help engage learners in reading and getting them to use their imaginations (something we seem to train out of our kids as they get older). These can be used to show understanding for a concept, practice active problem solving, improve writing skills and even help students understand body language cues. You don’t need to be super computer literate, but this 21st century teaching strategy is so easy to implement.

      21st Century Teacher skills

        Image by www.makebeliefscomix.com

        17. Take a photo of class work.

        Technology is here to stay and the quicker you harness its benefits, the easier your job will be. Use your mobile phone to record the work covered during the lesson and then upload it to your class blackboard/Moodle/internet page. This way if students are away, they can easily catch up on the work covered.

        18. Peer review assignments.

        Have students complete the draft of an assignment and post it to their individual blog. Just because you are a 21st century teacher, that doesn’t mean that everything needs to be done with technology (shock!). This strategy could just as easily be done using a planning template. The idea is that classmates should go into at least three of their classmates’ blogs/template and give hot and cold comments as constructive feedback. Hot comments are when students outline what needs to change and cold comments are specific things that were done well. (e.g. Hot–Make sure your writing is in third person. Cold–Your paragraphs link well.)

        For more ideas, read 21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This Year.

        Featured photo credit: Students in class via shutterstock.com

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        Last Updated on April 17, 2019

        10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

        10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

        What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

        Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

        They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

        1. Communication Skills

        Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

        To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

        Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

        Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

        After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

        2. Flexibility

        Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

        Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

        Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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        Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

        3. Being a Team Player

        Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

        What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

        This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

        Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

        4. Positive Mental Attitude

        There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

        Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

        Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

        It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

        Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

        5. A Strong Work Ethic

        People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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        If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

        Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

        • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
        • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
        • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
        • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

        For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

        6. Public Speaking

        Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

        Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

        If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

        For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

        Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

        7. Integrity

        From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

        • Always doing what you say you will do
        • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

        …even when no one is around to check up on you.

        There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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        Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

        8. Managing Your Time

        Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

        A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

        Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

        Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

        These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

        9. Assertiveness

        In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

        • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
        • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
        • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
        • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

        Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

        How do you use this information for yourself?

        It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

        Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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        How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

        10. Creative Thinking

        LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

        Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

        How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

        Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

        These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

        You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

        What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

        Final Thoughts

        The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

        So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

        The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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        Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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