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The 21st-Century Teacher Traits and Skills

Ruby writes from the Philippines. She teaches education and communication courses in HEI. Ruby holds an MA in Education.


The 21st-Centruy teacher

How would you describe a teacher in the twenty-first century? I've also asked that question myself as a teacher. You may have also seen this trendy buzzword mentioned in the news or at your school, but do you actually know what a modern educator looks like? In addition to having the most recent technology, they may also exhibit the traits of a facilitator, contributor, or even integrator. Teachers must produce new curricular materials that are relevant and sensitive to the context and culture of learners and incorporate multicultural literacy and cultural skills into the curriculum due to cultural variations in the country. Pawilen observes, "Teachers will teach millennial learners, who were born in an era where information technology is leading and shaping the renaissance of society." All global instructors must meet culturally varied school demands under ASEAN criteria. Middlewood and Burton (2001) add that teaching and learning in the 21st century, require new ways and methods of teaching as well as learning. In order to meet this need, teachers must also possess the following characteristics listed below.

Here are the essential traits of a teacher in the twenty-first century.

The 21st-century teacher traits

1. Utilize learner-centered classroom and tailored instruction: With access to all information, there is no need to spoon-feed pupils or teach a one-size-fits-all curriculum. Personalization is feasible and desired since students have distinct personalities, goals, and requirements. Students learn better when they own their learning, are intrinsically motivated, and work more when given choices.
2. Inspire students to create: Students have the latest technology, but they mostly use it to talk, text, and phone family and friends. Though digital natives, many pupils don't create digital material. They possess pricey gadgets that can create blogs, infographics, books, how-to videos, and tutorials, yet many schools require them to switch them off and use handouts and worksheets.
Unfortunately, graded papers are typically discarded. Many pupils don't want to do them, let alone maintain or return to them. Students can create stunning blogs, videos, and digital storytelling when given the chance.

3. Learn new technologies: Offering kids options requires hands-on experience and competence. Learning a tool once is impossible since technology changes. New technologies are new to both rookie and expert instructors, so anybody may start. contains various technology-learning tools, and I used a short-term membership.

4. Go paperless: Organizing instructional resources and activities on one's own website and incorporating technology might enhance students' learning experience. Sharing links and digital debates instead of a steady paper flow helps students manage class materials.

5. Travel: Today's technology lets you experience various cultures. Of course, textbooks are fine, but talking to foreigners is the best way to acquire languages, cultures, and communication skills.
Despite our resources, we still learn about foreign cultures, people, and events via the media. Teaching pupils how to use their skills to visit—at least virtually—any part of the earth will hopefully make us more knowledgeable and empathetic.
6. Use cellphones smartly: Again, when kids are encouraged to use their gadgets as learning tools rather than distractions, they do. In my initial years of teaching, I didn't allow mobile phones and tried to explain every new vocabulary term and answer every question. Today, I wouldn't do that.
I've realized that students' requirements for help with new vocabulary or queries vary, so there's no need to waste time explaining something that only one or two students would benefit from. Instead, educating kids to be independent and discover solutions change the lesson.
Since considering kids' gadgets as tools, I've witnessed improvements. I occasionally reply, “I don't know—use Google and tell us all.” What a change!
7. Employ blogging: Students and teachers should blog. Writing for an audience and building a web presence was valuable to my English beginners. Blogging is no longer a choice.
8. Collaborate: Technology enables teacher-student cooperation. Creating digital tools, presentations, and projects with other instructors and students makes classroom activities more realistic. Collaboration goes beyond emailing documents and making PowerPoint presentations. The loss of many brilliant ideas is tremendous. Global collaboration changes everything.
9. Find like-minded people: Again, modern technology lets us communicate with anybody, anywhere, anytime. Asking an expert or colleague? Follow, join, ask, or tell on social media.
10. Apply project-based learning: Textbooks are so 20th century since kids today have access to real online resources, experts around the world, and classmates learning the same topic elsewhere. Today's students should use their gadgets to establish driving questions, study, contact experts, and share final projects. Teacher direction is all they need.

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11. Build positive digital footprints: Today's instructors must demonstrate how to use social media, develop and post meaningful material, and share resources. Even if instructors are individuals and want to use social media and publish their photographs and ideas, we cannot advise our children not to do wrong things online if we do. Professionalism in class and online builds a good digital imprint and sets an example for pupils.
12. Innovate: Try teaching using social media or substituting textbooks with digital resources. Students, not tools.
Since I started using TED lectures and my own activities based on those films, my students have given completely different responses. They adore class discussions and announcements on Facebook-messenger. They like new methods, not new tools.
13. Keep on learning: New tools and technologies require constant learning. It's pleasant, and even a 20-minute-use a day will get you far. I myself is a constant learner, not only of computers but of many things. When computers became popular, some of my colleagues in my age range refused to learn computer use in the classroom. But I decided to try. Though it was not easy at first, I forced myself to learn how to use it. I struggled and found it challenging, but eventually, I did learn it. Today, I am glad I can use technology with ease though I am not an expert.

Final Thoughts

The 21st-century teacher possesses what I call C skills and are identified by Middlewood and Burton (2001). These are Critical thinking, Creativity, Communication skills, and Collaboration. Law and Grover add to this idea by saying that the 21st-century teacher must embrace the following essential concepts of learning: learning how to learn, learning as a process or a journey, learning as a life-long process, and teacher as a learner. Further, Pawilen (2019) identifies some developments that have influenced curriculum development in the 21st century, these are: a. increasing discoveries on how the human brain works b.idea of learning styles and thinking preferences c. ICT integration in education, and d. development of learning education

Finally, Ellen G. White declares "True teachers are not satisfied with second-rate work. They are not satisfied with directing their students to a standard lower than it is possible for them to reach. They cannot be content with imparting only technical knowledge, with making merely clever accountants, skillful artisans, successful professionals. It is their ambition to inspire students with principles of truth, obedience, honor, integrity, and purity—principles that will make them a positive force for the stability and uplifting of society. They desire them, above all else, to learn life’s great lesson of unselfish service." (TEd. p. 21)


Law, S. and Glover, D. (2000). Education leadership and learning. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Middlewood, D. & Burton, N. (2001). Managing the curriculum. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.

Pawilen, G.T. (2019). The Teacher and the School Curriculum. Quezon City: Rex Bookstore, Inc.

© 2022 Ruby Campos

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