What makes a teacher empowered in the 21st century?

“Teaching is like having a bank account. You can happily draw on it while it is well supplied with new funds; otherwise, you’re in difficulties. Every teacher should have a fund of ready information on which to draw; he should keep that fund supplied regularly by new experiences, new thoughts, and discoveries.” 

These famous lines from the iconic book To Sir, With Love – by E. R. Braithwaite still hold 61 years later. From the time we begin our educational journey, our teachers build our foundational literacy. In addition to our parents, they serve as our closest confidants, role models, or mentors. 

While we all agree on how important a teacher is to a student, herein lies the dilemma ushered in the last decade, further escalated by the pandemic. As education evolves, schools evolve, and students also evolve, have our teaching methods evolved? Simple answer – it’s a work in progress. 

Teaching today has begun quite complex and exciting. The time and patience of students or parents have decreased. Information or learning happens 24 hours a day from multiple channels – web, net, social media, and online micro-communities. In such a dynamic world, teachers work hard to maintain students’ focus via curriculum innovations and interactive learning tools. 

It’s not like curriculum innovation and vocational or interactive learning methods did not exist before the pandemic. It’s just that the adoption was mostly amongst a chosen few. This scenario has changed in the post-pandemic era. With the lockdown-led online learning modules, emerging new study verticals around coding, phonetics, STEM learning, and an array of new technologies at their disposal, today’s teachers have begun evolving to match the rapidly changing paradigms of schools and students. 

Therefore, what makes a 21st-century ‘new age’ teacher? 

To master of knowledge from Jack of all trades

The times have changed from uniform learning to personalized education. For the current hybrid study modes, teachers need to develop individualized learning plans for different students with varying absorption capabilities. That means they have to not only become masters of their subject but frequently go beyond the stated course curriculum. Combining parental and student feedback, these masters of knowledge eagerly test different teaching modes and experiments. They teach with experiential, intuitive methods to help in a child’s overall physical, cognitive, socio-emotional-ethical, and cultural development. 

Powered by technology

A crucial skill for any teacher, principal, or school today. Most teachers still wear multiple hats that include administrative and clerical tasks. Investing in the right set of technologies can easily take care of these managerial tasks. Take SchoolMitra for example, a cloud-based platform that can take care of everything – staffing, payroll, admissions, fees, transportation, library, examination, database, inventory, and communication. 

In fact, as per NEP 2020, teachers should no longer engage in any work that is not directly related to teaching; especially strenuous administrative tasks. Schools have to continue investing in digital technologies such as secure LMS (learning management system) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions that can free up teachers. Free them up to concentrate on imparting flexible, multi-faceted, multi-level teaching across grades and geographies.  

Investing in continuous self-improvement

Interestingly, NEP 2020 further states that teachers and schools have to look at ‘continuous opportunities for self-improvement and to learn the latest innovations and advances in their professions.’ Many organizations and teachers have begun participating in training modules to keep pace with the evolving students and parental needs. 

Ed-tech companies and auxiliary organizations offer multiple certifications, personalized modules, and interactive online learning solutions that can help. For example, Eupheus offers a certificate from the University of Concordia to computer teachers. A professional development program for teachers on teaching new skills to students. It was offered during the Code2Win National Coding Competition, another gem of a program for the future of learning. Such certifications and learning programs not only build necessary skills but credibility too. They offer a sense of accomplishment to the teachers and trust to parents and students. 

As a nation with a rich learning heritage, we all understand that to become a global economic powerhouse, future leaders have to be nurtured well. Teachers have a critical role to play here. Empowered teachers are key to building a powerful nation.

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