Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Are You a 21st Century Educator? (A Collaborative Post by Jennifer Hogan & Craig Vroom)

Constantly striving to embed best practices, teachers are embracing the notion of the 21st Century academic experience more now than ever before. And, as leaders in our field either in the classroom or within our building or district, it is the modeling that we do, the efforts that we make, and the implementation of these concepts that sets us aside from our peers.

Teachers and administrators today are defining themselves by the experiences they offer. The art of education is taking on a form of its own. The traditional side of education is evaporating from our experiences. The strides being made in this generation of learners has evolved beyond all the previous generations combined. There is a growing separation. 

With that, we have heard time and time again about shifting from the scope of being “good” at what we offer as educators to taking what we do to the level of “great”. Today, however, we are hearing and believing that being “great” isn’t good enough. The charge given to those that truly seek to be innovative and be a leader amongst leaders and a visionary amongst their colleagues is to take the craft of teaching and learning and strive to be “exceptional”. It is educators taking their passion of teaching and learning to a level achieved only by a handful. Many of us strive toward this level of instruction, not all can reach this peak.

Being exceptional requires many attributes, most notably, the belief in being a 21st Century teacher and leader. Do you have the attributes of being a 21st Century educator? Read below to see how you measure up to your colleagues near and far. Becoming exceptional is a goal well worth achieving.

Are you a 21st century teacher?

  • Do you share what your students are doing with the world?
  • Do you bring in experts to talk with your students via Skype or Google Hangout?
  • Do you seek out and participate in professional learning via twitter and other online communities?
  • Do you take your students on virtual fieldtrips?
  • Do you focus on having your students to create instead of them only consuming?
  • Do you connect your classroom with other classrooms across the globe?
  • Do you use backchannels in your classroom to give even the quietest students a voice?
  • Do you give assignments where students collaborate via online platforms, such as Google Docs?
  • Do you teach your students about digital citizenship and anti-cyberbullying?
  • Do you share your lesson plans and collaborate with teachers across the globe?
  • Do you leave a video tutorial or podcast for your substitute to play when you are not at school so that students don’t miss a day of learning and/or doing?
  • Do you allow your students to guide their instruction and do they own their learning?
  • Does the culture of your room speak to the values and beliefs of the learning?

Are you a 21st century school leader?

  • Do you flip your faculty meetings?
  • Do you seek out and participate in professional learning via twitter and other online communities?
  • Do you share what your teachers and students are doing with the world?
  • Do you model risk-taking?
  • Do you provide professional development experiences that allow for teacher choice in delivery format, skill level, and flexible time of delivery?
  • Do you lead technology training sessions?
  • Do you use Remind to notify your staff of important events and news?
  • Do you collaborate with other school leaders across the globe via social media and other online communities?
  • Do you have a school hashtag?

Whether you are a teacher within a classroom of students or a leader within a building full of learners, your charge is to ensure that each person within your community is receiving a 21st Century academic experience. This list of questions is a great starting place for you to recognize what is, or is not, happening in your workplace. Take inventory in your teaching and leading and strive to becoming an exceptional educator in the 21st Century.


  1. Jennifer and Craig,

    I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated reading this. Isn't it fascinating, the parallels between being exceptional as a teacher and as a school leader? The questions you've posed can be highly relevant to purposeful, actionable goal-setting, We owe it to ourselves, one another, and our students to keep pushing ourselves and each other, regardless of our titles. Thanks for modeling maybe the most important attribute: a willingness to collaborate.

    Well done!

    ~ Dennis

  2. Dennis, I think it is fascinating an revealing that the parallels are there. Teachers are leaders, although many times they don't see themselves that way. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. I liked your post. One thing we should add is teaching empathy about other people and other cultures. That needs to be a 21st century skill. I know it is not techy but it could be the most important skill we teach them.