Let’s face it, time are changing! Education in the 21st century is very different from that of the 20th century. Are you on the boat or in the ocean treading water? When I was in elementary school, I really don’t remember the focus being on anything other than the core subject areas like reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. Now that I am an elementary school teacher, I see the necessity to incorporate technology and life skills as well. In order to live and be successful in the 21st century, today’s students need much more than rote learning and memorization of facts. If you asked me a few years ago how prepared I felt for teaching in the 21st century, I would have probably told you I was in the water swimming behind the boat trying to catch up. Today, I would have to say that I am climbing onto the deck of the boat.
As an educator, my main focus is my students. Are they leaving my room equipped for success using 21st century skills? I certainly hope that as a second grade teacher I have begun to lay the foundation for success. As I think about my instruction and plan my everyday lessons, I try to embed skills that are not just based in the core academic subjects. I also try to incorporate skills based in life and career skills as well as learning and innovation skills. Many lessons involve cooperative learning and problem solving. This year especially, I have made a conscious effort to use what little technology our school has to offer. My students are becoming more comfortable using our laptops and iPods. I have become much more at home using and creating power points for class instruction and projects. Who knows? By the end of the year, my students might be producing their own power point presentations.
Being open minded and willing to try new things is definitely a strength in regards to learning in the 21st century. I have also found success in having students collaborate with others in varied groups. Being able to communicate and work together to solve a common problem is a must for success in this century. Overcoming the digital divide remains a challenge. Our school just doesn’t have the technology as surrounding schools. What we do have needs to be shared amongst the entire school. That and the fact that we are so test driven, causes challenges in getting students ready for real life in the 21st century.