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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 9, 2020

        5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

        5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

        It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

        The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

        With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common types of leadership and how you can determine which works best for you.

        5 Types of Leadership Styles

        I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

        The Democratic Style

        The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

        The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

          The Autocratic Style

          The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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          The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

          While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

            The Transformational Style

            Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

            Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

            Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

              The Transactional Style

              Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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              The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

              The Laissez-Faire Style

              The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

              In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

              Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

              You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

              Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

              The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

              Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

              I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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              In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

              What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

              Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

              1. Context Matters

              Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

              2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

              When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

              As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

              “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

              The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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              As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

              When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

              The Way Forward

              To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

              As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

              “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

              The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

              If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

              Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

              Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

              More Leadership Tips

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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