Monday, March 30, 2009

What is a 21st Century Educator?

Recently, I received an email from a colleague working at an elementary school concerned about budget cuts that were going to reduce her allocation for new technologies on campus. Her main concern was "How can you be a 21st Century educator without the necessary hardware, software, and peripherals"

I believe we first need to back up a bit and analyze what we mean by a 21st Century educator. A cursory review of the 21st Century Skills generated by the Partnership for the 21st Century reveals that two-thirds of the broad categories do not necessarily demand the use of technology (i.e., Learning and Innovation Skills, Life and Career Skills).

A 21st Century educator is one who is able to harness the "available" technologies in his/her classroom to engage students in higher order thinking and make authentic connections between the content and the student. I refer to this phenomenon as H.E.A.T. (Higher order thinking, Engaged learning, Authentic connections, and Technology use). Too often, the focus is exclusively on the acquisition of more hardware with only tacit attention given to dynamic instructional strategies and authentic learning in the classroom.

I invite anyone to review the NETS-T (National Education Technology Standards for Teachers) that define the 21st Century educator. These standards similarly emphasize the tenets of 21st Century Skills and Themes and H.E.A.T. If a campus does not have an advanced technology infrastructure, my advice is to focus on H.E.A.
(Higher order thinking, Engaged learning, Authentic connections) so that when more funding becomes available, your teachers will be ready to harness the new technologies at a higher LoTi level that will subsequently produce more H.E.A.T. in the classroom and improved student achievement.

May the LoTi Be With You!

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