The best employees in any profession are those who are constantly looking to improve themselves. This fact is no different in the world of education. Teachers must keep a growth mindset if they plan to stay up-to-date with the ever-changing educational landscape, and the need for teachers to reinvent themselves and actively develop their craft has never been as imperative as it has been over the last 10 years. So what are the current underlying factors forcing teachers to constantly reinvent themselves?
1. Instant Access and Mobile Devices
In today’s world, students (and adults) have a PhD in their pocket. The mobile device with instant access to information has changed the way we function in society, in our careers, and in schools. This fact is something that commonly goes ignored by educators. There will always be a need for certain memorized knowledge and skills, but the days of cramming to remember every president of the United States for a test are gone.
Why? Well, mobile devices and instant access have changed the lens of how we interact with information. It is at our fingertips at all times now. Teachers need to move from a memorize model, to a find, analyze, apply model. Students need to be taught to find the information they are looking for, analyze what they have found, and apply what they have found to their task and/or learning. We say we need to get students "career ready" ... this is the model they will be using. Time to embrace it and restructure how you go about teaching, if you haven't already.
2. Today’s Digital Natives
I was recently talking to the principal at the middle school where I teach. He was telling me how his five-year-old son, without any instruction or modeling, will grab his iPhone or tablet, spend a couple of minutes exploring, and somehow become proficient at whatever task he was trying to accomplish. This, to most adults' amazement, is a very common occurrence with today’s youth. Connectivity and technology are our students' world and reality. They want it, they get it - it's their language. This means as educators we need embrace these factors as we would any other. Utilizing new educational technology tools not only provides opportunities to enhance learning, but facilitates teaching students in their "digital native language."
3. Ever-Changing Curriculum and Methodology
Whether you agree with them or not, the arrival of Common Core Learning Standards are pushing teachers to embrace a new and (at times) alternative approach of how and what is being taught. The CCLS forces teachers to evaluate their past teaching practices and reframe them in order to be sure they are in line with CCLS ideology. Regardless of your opinion on the movement, this is the current reality for many educators. In regards to methodology, teachers are connected like never before. Whether it’s via Twitter, podcasts, websites, blogs, or Google+, teachers have constant access to the newest and most effective instructional practices. This, in turn, leaves teachers with an educational responsibility to seek out what is best for their students, and to constantly adapt to best meet student learning needs.
Moral of the story? Keep a growth-mindset. Always reinvent yourself. If you are standing still, you are falling behind.
BONUS: 5 Reasons Every Teacher Needs to Be on Twitter