Essay: What am I going to do as an English teacher to engage with the 21st century skills?
The 21st century is different from other centuries. It isthe age of easily accessible and easily digestible material because of all of the electronic media, computers, modern technologies and changes. Innovations have come to all spheres of life. Teachers in the 21st century face challenges that their predecessors did not. Effective teaching in the 21st century requires more than a basic understanding of educational theory and classroom management.
Teaching is a hard job as it dictates various responsibilities and changes upon the teacher's character and behavior. And it is clear that the 21st century classroom needs are very different from the 20th century ones. That’s why teachers’ roles should differ from traditional ones. First it was largely teacher-centered with long lectures on particular topics and students listen to them with attention. Repetitive practice, mechanical drills and memorization of grammar rules are certain important aspects of this approach to language teaching. Twenty-first century learning refers to the skills, technologies and insights that are used to create learning systems that are better suited to the emerging challenges of the 21st century. Today’s students represent the first generations to grow up with this technology. They have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers , videogames,digital musical players, video cams, cell phones, and all other toys. Marc Prensky called the new generation “Digital Natives”. Many children prefer games to “serious” work. They believe that they know everything and can navigate around, "whip up" walking across the expanses of the Internet. They are used to receiving information fast, they like to do multi-task. They function best when networked. But they can’t understand what the knowledge that they're getting a very superficial and many thoughts are subjective, and some can do harm, distort reality. That’s why, nowadays the role of a teacher and teaching approach has changed greatly. The teacher should not just be a storyteller or strict overseer, it should be a curator, leading his charges on roads of knowledge. A modern teacher who can lead the right dialogue with their students.
It is believed that a teaching style is fundamentally a matter of personality. It may be true that teachers who are interested in learners as people are more likely to succeed in the classroom than those who regard teaching only as the routine transmission of knowledge. So, a modern class must be student-centered where a teacher helps and encourages students to develop their skills. In a student-centered classroom, the teacher and students are a team working together, supporting one another.
However, the teacher can have many roles such as the controller, assessor, organizer, prompter, participant, resource, tutor and facilitator. It depends on the nature of the classroom activity at any given moment.
I’d like to mention some of them. The roles can vary from the controller to the organizer and to the tutor.
A controller stands at the front of the class like a puppet-master controlling everything. In the classroom he/she is mostly the center of focus and can inspire through their own knowledge. The teacher assumes this role when a new language is being introduced and drilling techniques are needed. But this role has a lack of variety in its activities.
An Organizer is considered to be the most difficult and important role the teacher has to play. He can serve as a demonstrator, open and close activities and also give content feedback. The success of the lesson depends on good organization, clear instructions and nice class atmosphere.
Being a tutor is not an easy job. Working with individuals or small groups, tutors combine the roles of a prompter and a resource.Ateacher has to act as a coach when making projects, provide advice, helps students clarify ideas and limit tasks. A student is paid much individual attention to. More personal contact gives the learners a real chance to feel supported and helped. It’s positive for the general class atmosphere! However, it can lead to students’ dependence of the tutor or get used to one teacher’s method or style of teaching.
To sum up, the teacher has to be many things including friendly, approachable, flexible, fair but firm, is prepared and sensitive to individual needs. The teacher must also be respectful, encouraging, motivating, resourceful and willing to explain and offer rationale. Now we are “Digital Immigrants”, but we have to learn to communicate in the language and style of our students. It means going faster, less step-by step, more in parallel.Learning styles in the classroom can be different and it is the teacher’s responsibility to include as many learner styles as possible. This can be achieved by varying teaching methods and techniques and especially by using teacher roles.As for me I try to be a prompter and organizer.
1.Harmer,J. – The practice of English language teaching. – 3d edition, Longman
2.Jones,L. – The student – centered classroom.- Cambridge University Press,2007
3.The roles of a teacher (adapted from J. Harmer)
4.Mohammad Ahmed Al-Jabali-Jordanian Teachers’ Awareness of Their Role in the Classroom
2013 ACADEMY PUBLISHER Manufactured in Finland
5. Adams ,N. – The 7 roles of a trainer in the 21st century- Eton Institute
6.Roles of teachers:A case study based on :Diary of a language teacher- JOACHIM APPEL 1995
7.Prensky,M. – DigitalNatives, Digital Immigrants – from On the horizon (MCB University Press, vol. 9 No.5, 2001
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