During a recent conversation with close friends, we began remembering teachers who significantly impacted our lives. On quite a nostalgic afternoon, I heard wonderful stories about generosity, inspiration, and total dedication to this profession. Most of us had graduated from high school more than twenty years ago, but we still had warm feelings for inspiring teachers who were (and, to a certain extent, still are) role models for us and our colleagues.
Two decades on, we realized that perhaps our professional lives would have been different if we had not met these teachers. A close friend works with computers because he joined a computer programming club one of his teachers created during high school. His wife teaches Spanish, but she realized that she had a talent for languages after years of struggling during language classes. A dedicated and tactful teacher told her that she should give Spanish a second chance.
We will need empathetic, dedicated, and inspiring teachers for the next generations of students. We would like our kids to have the same experience as we did since meeting the right teacher at the right moment could make a world of difference for a student.
Read more: Top 7 TED Talks every teacher should see
But what should we add to all these abilities in a highly technologized education system? How should we train our future teachers?
4 Things any teacher training program should include from now on
Let’s see how edtech-related abilities should be included in training programs for teachers:
Integrating edtech at all levels
Effective training for teachers should focus on a smooth integration of edtech in education at all levels, regardless of the subjects taught. We have been debating generational gaps for some time, but this pandemic has shown each teacher that Gen Z is indeed the generation of digital natives. Using the same methods that worked for previous cohorts is not adequate.
The Covid-19 pandemic will be over, but going back to school should not be business as usual. We should use what we have learned during these months and bring that experience to the classroom. Effective training programs for teachers should always address edtech and the new pedagogy we are building in our schools.
Creating digital learning content
Teachers realized that if they want to have engaging classes online, they must create great digital content. Obviously, a teacher is not the average YouTuber, but adding to the professional portfolio some content creation skills will be beneficial to both students (as they will engage more with interesting digital content) and to the teachers themselves (as they will feel less frustrated with the lack of engagement).
Some teachers have started to learn by themselves: I remember the comment section of a math lesson on the YouTube channel of Khan Academy, where several teachers from all over the world would ask questions about the apps and the hardware used to create that video. But this is not enough. Digital content creation should be included in all training programs for teachers all over the country.
Developing strategies for hybrid education
Training programs should also teach educators strategies for hybrid teaching. It has become obvious that a mix of online and offline will be the norm. However, there are plenty of teachers who are not prepared for this mix. It’s not easy to see on your own what tasks or what types of content are better suited for the online learning environment and what is better taught in an offline setting.
In the end, each teacher can find an individual solution, but training programs could offer teachers proper and ready-to-use tools and strategies for their context. Without proper training, some educators might feel lost will all the information available on the internet.
Read more: How to get started with hybrid teaching
Adapting to change
Last but not least, adaptability to change will be essential for teachers in the future. Inertia or resistance to change is quite high in education. On the one hand, many teachers are overworked and underpaid, so even if they want to change teaching methods and strategies, they don’t have the time and the energy to reinvent their profession every four or five years.
However, we should all know that adaptation to change is crucial for future educators. Technology is constantly changing, so educators should be prepared to keep up with that change: not to embrace the latest fad, but to identify major trends and embrace them.
Read more: 5 E-learning trends for 2021 and beyond
We should use the opportunity this shift to remote education brought us and brush up on our edtech abilities. Moreover, educational institutions should prepare specific training programs that reflect all the changes we see in education.
Veronica is a University lecturer with years of experience in language learning, a translator and interpreter, and a life-long learner.