10 Hallmarks of 21st Century Teaching and Learning
With one notable exception, 21st century teaching and learning best practises are essentially the same as they were in the previous century, even if the century numbers are inverted. Sound, effective educational best practises in the twenty-first century share certain strategic, time-tested characteristics with earlier generations of educators. We have identified ten experience-based Hallmarks of 21st Century Teaching and Learning that can be used as touchstones in the educator’s pedagogical approach to teaching and learning in this context.
Naturally, there is the caveat that technology in the twenty-first century has permeated virtually every aspect of education and culture and has fundamentally altered the landscape. When it comes to developing those 21st century global skillsets, how we, as educators, use technology with our students is now the key to ensuring that our students can lead and compete in a world where geography is no longer necessary in many ways.
1. Project Based Learning
Learning through project-based activities is the primary channel through which the Hallmarks are realised. There are certain characteristics that are consistent across all projects that are viable. Some of these are the types of projects that should be undertaken:
Hands-On Collaborative Multi-Disciplinary Student-Centered Learning Environment
Real-Time \sReal-World \sFlexible
Similarly, any discussion about the design of 21st century teaching/learning spaces must include the flexibility of those spaces by their very nature; similarly, any discussion about the design of 21st century teaching and learning must include flexibility of those spaces. Because technology has become such a fundamental part of our lives, our students’ individual learning styles are more important than ever, and they must be taken into consideration. Inquiry-based learning (PBL) provides a plethora of opportunities for students and teachers to be engaged in ways that are most conducive to their optimal learning styles.
Using a real-world boat building project involving middle school students at a Philadelphia charter school, this short video demonstrates how to authentically model the following characteristics:
2. A sense of belonging and engagement
As soon as students become engaged and invested in the completion of a school-based project, they begin to take ownership of their educational experiences. All aspects of their school career, including mastery of the curriculum, become important to them as a result of taking ownership. With ownership comes the following responsibilities:
Responsibility on one’s own part
Strategies such as critical thinking, hypothesis generation, and learning extension become commonplace as a result of this.
Having the drive to succeed
Your responsibility as a teacher begins with you! Become actively involved in the PBL processes. Start projects with your students that you are personally interested in so that you can authentically model ownership for them.
Owning something and engaging with it are two sides of the same coin, in many ways. As a result, when students take ownership and personal responsibility for the successful outcome of their Project, they are more engaged and interested in the subject matter. Any good Service Learning project will provide students with numerous opportunities to think critically, to form hypotheses, and to apply what they have learned to new situations. Engagement opens the door to the development of these critical skills, which in turn leads to academic and civic success in the long run.
This high school Project activity, which makes use of the built environment, is an excellent example of student participation:
3. Collaborative Teaching and Learning (also known as cooperative learning)
When educators collaborate with one another, they have powerful opportunities to learn from one another, which in turn can help them expand the range of strategies available to them in their pedagogical toolboxes. Because of technological advancements, it is now possible to collaborate virtually with a teacher who is located across the world as it is across the hall.
Getting students to work cooperatively in small groups to achieve project-based goals is an effective strategy for meeting curricular and standards-based goals. Furthermore, when students are focused on the objectives of a project, they are more likely to engage in collaborative problem-solving with their peers, which helps to clarify their understandings and solidify their learning. The cooperative nature of small groups working together to complete the project successfully has a tremendously positive impact on the classroom climate, and behaviour issues are significantly reduced as a result of this.
Using postgraduate students as participants, this project demonstrates collaborative and cooperative behaviour in action:
4. Participation in civic life, leadership, and personal accountability
Our students’ long-term, real-world success is dependent on their ability to develop good citizenship skills as part of the fabric of their education and learning experiences.
Students’ mastery of curriculum and standards is enhanced by their development of civic skills, which provide greater depth, context, and meaning. The inclusion of Community Partnerships is critical to the success of a project. Professionals who give freely of their time and expertise to benefit students serve as role models for good citizenship and civic responsibility.
Project-Based Learning necessitates administrative and teacher leadership, while also cultivating these qualities in our young people. One of the most important characteristics of effective leadership is the ability to recognise when you don’t know something and the humility to admit it while also listening and learning from those who do. As a result, for educators and administrators:
The ability to make decisions and accept personal responsibility for the consequences of those decisions is essential to effective leadership.
Leadership is about empowering those under your supervision to be creative problem solvers without feeling threatened by their success. –
To be a leader means being able to buffer and protect those under your supervision from distractions and impediments so that they can carry out their responsibilities without being hampered by those distractions and impediments.
Leaders are those who have the ability to turn mistakes into “teachable moments” rather than “blamable moments.”
Knowing when to step back and allow those under your supervision to take the initiative, while also acknowledging that the ultimate responsibility rests with you, is the definition of leadership.
Leaders recognise that leadership is a way of life and are therefore not constrained by the constraints of the school or business day or week in which they work.
While it is the educators’ obligation to ensure that information is presented in an interesting, informative and innovative manner, it is also the students’ personal responsibility to ensure that they have mastered the necessary information in order to meet the Project’s goals and objectives, which is something we must instil in them. Engagement, ownership, and interest on the part of the students in the successful completion of the Project instil a sense of personal responsibility. At the end of the day, one of our most important responsibilities as educators is to instil in our students a sense of personal responsibility and accountability.
Partnerships with the Community
Partnerships with the community are at the heart of Project Based Learning and 21st century teaching and learning. Working with real-world professionals and other members of the community to address real-world problems provides students with powerful opportunities to become involved and engaged as citizens and leaders while also achieving and maintaining curricular and standards-based proficiencies, among other things. Community Partners also serve as role models for good citizenship and leadership, and they provide opportunities for students to participate in educational field trips that are both enjoyable and demonstrate real-world learning skills.
Using this video, we can demonstrate how Community Partnerships, both inside and outside of the classroom, can have a transformative effect on students:
6. Completion of the curriculum and development of higher order thinking skills
The primary reason for implementing Project-Based Learning is to help students achieve greater success in both academics and social skills. If the project-based activities are connected to grade-appropriate curriculum and state standards, and, more importantly, if these connections enable students to achieve mastery across a range of academic disciplines, the project’s success will be determined at its conclusion. The Project Based methodology has demonstrated that when students take ownership of their educational processes, are actively involved in project activities, work cooperatively to achieve success and see citizenship modelled by Community Partners, mastery of the curriculum is more likely to occur.
Students in second grade are shown in this video developing and testing hypotheses:
Our students’ ubiquitous access to the internet has fundamentally altered the equation of how they learn, whether or not we, as educators, are prepared to accept this new reality. In contrast to the traditional teaching and learning experience, students who participate in Project Based Learning gain knowledge through hands-on experience. To the contrary of lecturing and testing students on disconnected facts, Project Teachers coach students to apply that knowledge to real-world situations, resulting in the development of Higher Order Thinking Skills such as evaluation, synthesis, and analysis. Many of the videos on the Guerilla Educators blog demonstrate HOTS in Action in a real-world setting.
7. Technology and the development of 21st century skills
The technology of the twenty-first century is analogous to the #2 pencil. Therefore, any good Service Learning project will be embedded with a diverse range of real-world technology applications that are applicable in the real world. We continue to spend an inordinate amount of time instructing students on how to use technological applications. That ship has sailed, as evidenced by the fact that the younger we are, the greater our ability to use technology in a more agile manner becomes. In order to achieve this, we need to shift the educational paradigm away from learning how to use technology and toward actually using it now, more than ever.
It is a great example of students utilising technology in their high school project activities that utilise the built environment.
The Teachable Moment (number 8)
When opportunities for spontaneous learning arise that are “off the curriculum grid,” agile educators are quick to seize the moment and capitalise on it. These teachable moments are extremely valuable opportunities for effective, authentic teaching and learning to take place, and they should not be overlooked. Real-time teachable moments are one of the transcendent qualities that good educators possess, and the ability to recognise and use them is one of those qualities.
9. Compilation of information and celebration
Students will present the following information to their peers, school staff, and the larger community:
What they came away with
What they did to deal with the problems or issues
The final products that they produce
The importance of their work, as well as their authenticity and timeliness, will be recognised and celebrated 10.
“Teacher John, if it ain’t fun, why would we do it?” a 4th grader asked, eloquently, several years ago. School and recreation? Students having FUN within the framework of their school-based activities is an integral part of Effective Teaching and Learning and is one of the overarching links that facilitate academic and civic success, despite the fact that the terms are typically perceived as being diametrically opposed to one another.