21st Century Teaching: A clarion call for rejuvenating professionalism


Stephen Williams proposes a model for the rejuvenating of professionalism among teachers in this article. He proposes regular training of educators, allowance for collaboration among them among other things to improve the overall learning process.

The focus for change in education is in teachers finding a way to best teach their students. We talk of personalized learning, project-based learning, play-based learning, blended learning; student-centered learning; formative assessment, collaboration, direct instruction, and lecture method.

There are passionate teachers advocating each of these methods as the best way for kids to learn. I am sure that there are others that form the list that I have not mentioned.

Using each of these methods to teach can be effective with many groups of students. The burning question should be, however, which is the best way to affect the greatest education reform?

The focus is targeting the student’s learning experience. That assumes that once that method is found, all will be right with the world of education which is rather too far from the truth.

Educating the educators

I think that is a wrong focus for proper and creative education reform. I believe that if we want to affect the greatest number of students by the way they are taught, we need to better educate their educators about the way they carry out their teaching.

A combination of several methods might be the best path for students to learn. The focus should target what and how we teach teachers, not students.

There are hundreds of thousands of educators who are familiar with many, if not all of the strategies mentioned here. Many are aware through their social media connections.

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The problem is that there are millions of educators who are far less connected, informed, or educated. Many of the uninformed educators may be far less connected to communities where discussions and collaboration with these topics are going on daily basis.

I am becoming more of the belief that, at this point in time, we are not going to get all educators connecting, collaborating and creating through digital connections with other educators around the world.

We do need to look at the benefits of these digital connections and find a way to create that resulting in collaboration within the schools in which our teachers work without digitally connecting those who will not connect.


Collaboration has become an integral part of professional development. We need to not only endorse collaboration, but we need to support it.

It is a key to adult learning and teachers are adults. We must approach all pedagogy through andragogy, an adults learning, and not pedagogy, a childs learning. Teach adults as adults and Adult will affect their world.

There is no college of education or university in the world that can graduate teachers with all that they will need to know to carry them through a thirty five-year career as a teacher.

The world and everything in it changes too rapidly for that to happen. Learning has to be ongoing. The term life long learning does not only apply as a goal for kids. It is essential for anyone wanting to exist, strive, survive, compete, and flourish in a modern tech-driven society. This especially applies to those who teach others who will need to do the same.

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If standards have to be drawn up for education, why not have standards for those that carry out the teaching process? The biggest problem with the implementation of common core in education, beyond the classroom, was the fact that there was no support for teacher education and private schools in Nigeria. Each school was left to its own devices. Some schools did well with it, others not so much.

This was another example of a non-funded mandate gone awry. Any national initiative in education would need its teachers on board and fully aware of their goal.

Until we recognize that the greatest effect that we can have on education is by continually educating our educators to the constant and continual changes occurring in their profession without leaving behind the foundation upon which our educational system was form, there will be little change in the progress we hope to make in education. We have now, and will continue to have 20 Century educators trying to teach kids to live and learn in a 21 Century world.

Professional development and alignment

Professional development and alignment must be part of a teachers job description. It should not be solely on the backs of teachers to find it.

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Schools and education institutions should deliver on a regular basis each week, not just one or two days a year. Faculty and department meetings should be more than a mandatory gathering to talk about schedules and policies.

Give collaboration time to teachers

Teachers must be given collaboration time to connect with colleagues to implement changes. The best people need to be placed in supportive coaching positions to help facilitate, and reinforce these changes.

Change is difficult and uncomfortable for everyone. People need help to accomplish it. Comfort zones are the biggest obstacles to change. If change is what we need and want for our education system, then we need to put things in place to make that happen.

The development of skills is not only a process which emphasizes physical or manual training, it also involves teaching people to think.

According to UNESCO, in the 21st century, we should also endeavour to attain the level of teacher education as a developing country. In so doing, there is a need to ensure high quality goals in teacher production and promote competency-based education and related philosophies.

Mr Stephen Williams an educationist with specialisation in life long and continuous education. He writes from Lagos.

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  1. Its important to educate ourselves as a teacher, we cannot give what we don’t have. Most of our students are not doing well in school because we fail as a teacher to apply right teaching method. I think many teacher need to be educated on this . thanks .

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