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10 Teaching Practices Every 21st Century Teacher should Do

Teaching is not only a job but is a way of life.It is a sublime task one can ever be entrusted with. Teachers educate generations of learners and in their hands lays  the faith of any nation. A well developed country is a country whose citizens are well educated and this is done only by effective teaching strategies.

Teachers have also their peaks and valleys, happy moments and sad times. A small conjugal problem can severely affect how a teacher perform in the classroom. Teaching is such a sensitive job that embodies the entire societal, intellectual, and cultural values and being an effective teacher is a challenge that every single player in this field recognizes as the most daunting task.


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Leading a successful teaching job requires a high sense of adaptability, for what used to be a successful teacher in the 20th century is now an outdated teacher in the 21st century. Most of us, who are still practising,  have  started with a certain teaching strategy only to end up with a complete different one. Teaching is a job that is extremely prone to every bit of change in society and unless we equip ourselves and our students with the right swimming suit we will definitely be swept away by the power of torrents.

One of the pivotal  facts we should keep in mind is that we teach in a different milieu, a digitally focused environment where technology has the lion's share. This means that we need the relevant digital  skills  that can help us seamlessly blend in  and leverage the power of technology to improve both teaching and learning. This list of 21st century digital skills every educator should have will empower you with the right tools to start with.

Are digital skills the only key elements  needed for us to be labelled effective teachers ? Definitely not. There are also certain practices that we should develop to accompany this progress. Below is a list of some of the most important teaching practices we need to maintain. Whether you are an experienced teacher or a newly fledged one, these practices will help you focus your teaching and have bigger impact on your students. Some  are about attitudes, while others are basic approaches to class structure, but they are all great and helpful.



1- Maintain good communication skills




21st century teaching practices



A successful  teacher is one that is able to build a rapport with his /her students, one that can easily connect with his learners and feel their needs as individuals. Open and clear communication is the key to develop a healthy friendly learning atmosphere inside your class.



2- Getting students engagement




21st century teaching practices



There is nothing as challenging as getting students engagement and holding their attention. Today's students are multitasked and can hardly maintain a long concentration. They can easily get bored and therefore disconnected. There are many ways you can fight off this problem : Use interesting educational games and activities, use technology and multimedia resources and finally make your teaching student-centred and try your maximum to relate what you teach to students immediate environment.



3- Use Humour 

21st century teaching practices


Relevant doses of humour to spice up your teaching are highly recommended. Forget about the authoritative and coercive style of teaching , for experience proved that it only disheartens learners and kills their motivation.  Use humour at appropriate times; this can lead to students engagement and build up their confidence. You need, however, to maintain the right balance between instruction and joking and don't let your whole class become an hour long comedy routine. Avoid the off-colour jokes and be sensitive to the cultural backgrounds of your students.



4- Act don't react



21st century teaching practices


Students are very smart and it is part of their  juvenile nature to try to get you. You are, for them, like a computer screen, they keep trying out all the keyboard buttons to find your weak point. Learn their game and play it with them carefully. Sometimes ignoring a disruptive  behaviour is way better than reacting to it and in case it becomes repetitive or serious then make sure to talk it out with the student involved alone and not in front of the whole class.



5- Be clear and precise in your instructions



21st century teaching practices


Remember you are teaching digitally focused students with short attention span. Several of the problems some teachers face are due to ambiguous and unclear instructions. Cut off on the clutter and be to the point. Show them the red lines and explain to them classroom ethics and what you can tolerate.



6- Give room to individualized learning



21st century teaching practices


Not all students are equal in their comprehensive powers. Students learn in different ways, like seeing, hearing, and experiencing things at first hand. Research has even proved that students can perform better on test if they change study habits to fit their own personal learning styles.Therefore, some students  are slow learners and others are quick, some kinesthetic ( learn by experience or doing ) others are auditory or visual. Keep these considerations in your mind and do your best to tend to every kind of learner you might have in your class.



7- Positive feedback



21st century teaching practices


" good job, excellent,..ect" are simple words that might not mean anything to you but they mean the whole world to students. Think back to the days when you were a student and how a positive feedback from your teacher would make both your and your parents whole day. Publicly praise positive behaviour and show your students that you are celebrating their achievements as well.



8- Involve students in decision making


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Students tend to do great when they feel they are trusted and  that they are real parts in the learning / teaching operation. Use voting and polling to invistigate about a certain topic or classroom assignment. Try from time to time to give them the wheel and let them lead. This is a great way to inspire students to increase their productivity.



9- Use peer  learning



21st century teaching practices


Peer learning is a form of cooperative learning that enhances the value of student-student interaction and results in various advantageous learning outcomes. For peer learning to be effective, the teacher must ensure that the entire  group experiences positive interdependence, face-to-face interaction, group processing, and individual and group accountability. Here are some of the strategies  to help you facilitate successful peer learning as stated in this article :

  • Buzz groups : This is a large group of students subdivided into smaller groups of 4-5 students to consider issues surrounding a problem.
  • Affinity groups : Groups of 4-5 students are each assigned particular tasks to work on outside of formal contact time
  • Solution and critic groups ; One sub-group is assigned a discussion topic for a tutorial and the other groups constitute critics who observe, offer comments and evaluate the sub-group presentation
  • Teach-Write-Discuss : At the end of a unit of instruction, students have to answer short question and justify their answers. After working on them individually they can then compare their answers with each others.




10- Love your subject/ job



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The best way to get students interested in your subject, from sciences to language to arts, is to love it so much that your passion for the field shows in your attitude. Students positively respond to authenticity. And as Abraham Lincoln once said " Love the job you do and you will never have to work a day ".


To finish up, here is an awesome video featuring the 7 habits of highly ineffective educators








Again your comments and reactions to this post are most welcome. Feel free to suggest other teaching practices I might have missed in the above list. Thank you.

6 comments : POST A COMMENT

  1. I am so sick of these lists. The fact is that where you teach and how involved the parent's are in their child's education makes all the difference in the world. I would much prefer to teach students who were like myself in school that what I have to teach now. My memories were of polite and well motivated students whose parents were not too involved or who were not negligent. Just the right balance. I never thought I would be teaching such unmotivated students with parents who hated school and seem to live through their kids. The parents routinely send their kids late to school and let them run the show at home so they have no self discipline. You can not control who sits in the seats of your classroom. I am sick and tired of trying to motivate those who lack curiosity or even care about their future. All they want is that free lunch and breakfast and as little homework as possible.

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  2. I agree wholeheartedly! In the real world, class sizes are often above 30; the internet often is inaccessible; there is pressure to perform and attain (unrealistic) results, which parents complain about if you try new ideas and your class average is worse than the class below yours. How about a list like "Teaching Practices Every 21st Century Teacher should Do To Avoid A Nervous Breakdown"? Now that would be useful!

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  3. It is really sad that these two educators feel this way. As a twenty-year veteran in a high-needs school I agree that parents make a big difference. But there is so much a teacher can do to be the deciding factor from bell to bell. It really all comes down to how much that teacher wants it for those kids, which is what leads to the creation of these other effective strategies. Everything you do has to have the central motivation of students feeling confident and welcome so that they are free to reach their potential.

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  4. Maybe it is time for a new career choice for you. I love my classroom and the diverse challenges it brings! Everyday is new with new challenges and I am continually stretching my mind for new ways to incorporate vivid learning. I like the lists because they are like a home base to always touch on.

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    1. I can see both sides here. I recently moved grade levels again to return to the upper elementary setting. The district I am in is constantly adding more unrealistic tasks and workload in spite of furloughs and threatened pay cuts. Burnout is never far away on any given day. I have gone back to a few trainings to see what has changed over the last few years synced I moved down to primary. I am glad I did go back to the trainings. I found a new outlook and new things I want to experiment with this year regardless of how the state testing goes. I am one who truly hopes the common core is not just another train wreck. We need the flexibility to be creative even when it doesn't yield unrealistic test scores. I have a large population of GATE and English learners which is constantly challenging my differentiating prowess. I have tried many new things this year which is the best I can recommend for any teacher who is hitting their frustration level with the status quo we often fall into.

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