Many argue that lecture-style instruction to “passive students” is the way of the past. Today’s 21st century tech-savvy, digital native students require much more engaging learning experiences such as blended learning, personalized learning, collaborative learning, and learning through digital and online media. Yet, veteran educators may find these new tactics challenging and even threatening.
Why is it so important for educators to adapt to the times, and how can we encourage veteran teachers to embrace new teaching styles, strategies, and frameworks?
Emerging Needs in Our Digital Age
Today’s students have never known a world without computers and the Internet. Research shows that these students may be wired differently. For instance, a study from the University of California at Los Angeles Brain Research Institute found that digital natives’ brains are more actively engaged while reading text on a webpage than reading the same material in print. Research by the University of Minnesota suggests that students’ social interactions, friendships, and civic activities also have been impacted by technology.
In addition, the workplace has changed dramatically with the rise of technology. Business managers stress that the number one skill they look for in new hires is strong critical thinking. Many companies face labor shortages because they can’t find applicants with the creative problem-solving skills required for today’s jobs.
Helping Schools and Educators Adapt
Schools must get better at teaching students the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. There are many new frameworks that help meet this goal, including:
- Blended learning
- Personalized learning
- Collaborative learning
- Learning through digital and online media
There are various reasons why veteran teachers may be resistant to these new ways of teaching. Veteran teachers likely have long ago found their groove and embraced traditional instructional styles. Many may also have inherent ideas of what their job limitations are. Others may not feel comfortable with technology or know how to best use devices and the Internet to support instruction.
Though veteran teachers may initially resist these new practices, rolling out new initiatives with care and strategic planning can help even the most apprehensive teachers embrace new methods. Here are a few suggestions to consider when introducing a new teaching framework:
- Do not roll out a new initiative or strategy too quickly. Take the time to address teachers’ questions and concerns.
- When possible, give teachers opportunities to be a part of the decision-making process. This will help educators feel valued and will go a long way toward helping them take ownership of the new initiative.
- Provide adequate training to ensure all educators feel comfortable with the new method. Include mentoring and coaching opportunities for teachers who need additional support.
- Build a support network within your school or district that gives educators the opportunity to communicate with one another and share tips, ideas, and lessons learned. A great way to facilitate these professional learning communities is through online forums or chat rooms.
- Social and emotional learning (SEL) can be an effective way to support teachers and students alike. Building teachers’ resilience will help them attain confidence and aptitude to support students’ needs.
We’ve got a gold mine of talent in our veteran teachers, and we must work to keep them in the fold ─ especially as schools face increasing problems with retention. Our experts at Aperture Education can help you create a plan to support the 21st century needs of all your teachers and students. Contact us today to learn more.