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15 Professional development skills for modern teachers

Posted by Hlengiwe Zwane on 22 July 2021 1:25 PM SAST
Hlengiwe Zwane photo

Article by Jannele Cox

When schools are looking to hire a teacher, there are a few basic requirements: a degree, experience working with children, and, of course, patience. Teachers need a variety of professional development skills along with knowledge of their subject matter and experience in order to be an effective teacher.

Likewise, as rapid developments in technology integrate into our day-to-day lives, they affect the way students learn and teachers teach. Modern teachers need to be competent in not only basic skills but new skill sets.

Bleow are fiveteen 21st century professional development skills, “modern skills,” that today’s teachers should possess.

1. Adaptability
In this modern digital age, teachers need to be flexible and able to adapt to whatever is thrown their way. Likewise, administrators are changing and updating expectations and learning standards. Whether it’s to the way students learn, the behavior their classroom displays, or their lesson plans, being able to adapt is a skill that every modern teacher must have.

2. Confidence
Every teacher needs to have confidence, not only in themselves but in their students and their colleagues as well. A confident person inspires others to be confident, and a teacher’s confidence can help influence others to be a better person.

3. Communication
Being able to communicate with not only your students but with parents and staff is an essential skill. Think about it, almost all of a teacher’s day is spent communicating with students and colleagues, so it is crucial to be able to talk clearly and concisely in order to get your point across.

4. Team Player
Part of being a teacher is being able to work together as part of a team or a group. When you work together as a team, it provides students with a better chance to learn and have fun. Networking with other teachers (even virtually) and solving problems together will only lead to success. Doing so encourages a sense of community, not only in your own classroom but school-wide as well.

5. Continuous Learner
Teaching is a lifelong learning process. The world is always changing, along with the curriculum and educational technology, so it’s up to you, the teacher, to keep up with it. A teacher who is always willing to go that extra mile to learn will always be an effective, successful teacher.

6. Imaginative
The most effective tool a teacher can use is their imagination. Teachers need to be creative and think of unique ways to keep their students engaged in learning, especially now that things are changing globally because of the digital shift. Many teachers are of the opinion that these standards are taking all of the creativity and fun out of learning, so teachers are finding imaginative ways to make learning fun again.

7. Leadership
An effective teacher is a mentor and knows how to guide their students in the right direction. They lead by example and are a good role model. They encourage students and lead them to a place of success.

8. Organisation
Modern teachers have the ability to organise and prepare for the unknown. They are always ready for anything that is thrown their way. Need to go home sick? No problem, they have a substitute folder all ready to go. Studies show that organised teachers foster more effective learning environments. So it is even more imperative to be organised if you want higher-achieving students.

9. Innovative
A modern teacher is willing to try new things, from new educational apps to teaching skills and electronic devices. Being innovative means not only trying new things, but questioning your students, making real-world connections, and cultivating a creative mindset. It’s getting your students to take risks and learn to collaborate with others.

10. Commitment
While being committed to your job is a traditional teaching skill, it is also a modern one. A modern teacher needs to always be engaged in their profession. The students need to see that their teacher is present and dedicated to being there for them.

11. Ability to Manage Online Reputation
This 21st century, modern teaching skill is definitely a new one. In this digital age, most, if not all, teachers are online, which means they have an “online reputation.” Modern teachers need to know how to manage their online reputation and which social networks are okay for them to use. LinkedIn is a professional social network to connect with colleagues, but other social networking site profiles, such as Instagram or Facebook, should remain private and separate from students.

12. Ability to Engage
Modern teachers know how to find engaging resources. Nowadays, it is essential to find materials and resources for students that will keep them interested. This means keeping up-to-date on new learning technologies and apps, and browsing the web and connecting to fellow teachers. Anyway that you can engage students and keep things interesting is a must.

13. Understanding of Technology
Technology is growing at a rapid pace. In the past five years alone we have seen huge advancements, and we will continue to see them grow. While these developments may be hard to keep up with, it is something that all modern teachers need to do. Not only do you need to understand the latest in technology, but you must also know which digital tools are right for your students. It’s a process that may take time but will be greatly influential in the success of your students.

14. Know When to Unplug
Modern teachers know when it’s time to unplug from social media and just relax. They also understand that the teacher burnout rate is high, so it’s even more critical for them to take the time to slow down and care for themselves. They also know when it’s time to tell their students to unplug and slow down. They give their students time each day for a brain break and let them unwind.

15. Ability to Empower
Teachers inspire ; that’s just one of the qualities that come along with the title. Modern educators have the ability to empower students to be critical thinkers, innovative, creative, adaptable, passionate, and flexible. They empower them to solve problems, self-direct, self-reflect, and lead. They give them the tools to succeed, not only in school but in life.

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