Essay: How the skills and attributes of teachers impact the quality of education of Primary students in the 21st century

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  • How the skills and attributes of teachers impact the quality of education of Primary students in the 21st century
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This research is to study how the skills and attributes of teachers impacts on the quality of education of Primary students in the 21st century. A teacher’s role in the 21st century has changed with increasing complexity and with an unlimited supply of knowledge, a “one size fits all” approach is no longer applicable. Teachers are not just responsible for teaching, they have to ensure that learning has happened catering to each child’s needs by personalising their learning. 21st century demands a very different set of skills and competencies from young learners and it is the responsibility of teachers to prepare them for life after school by developing these skills. Of all 21st century skills, creativity and innovation are important and major changes are needed in the overall educational culture towards more creative learning and innovative teaching.

The question that needs to be answered is, are our teachers competent enough to effectively teach the skills that young learners demand in a world that is rapidly evolving.
For this research work, research scholar has studied various reports on preparing teachers and developing school leaders for the 21st century around the world.
Researcher uses descriptive, predictive and prescriptive research design in which the descriptive analytics explains what has happened, predictive explains what could happen based on previous tends and patterns and prescriptive analytics explains what should the School Leadership should do to ensure that teachers are well equipped for 21st century classrooms.
Research Scholar uses structured questionnaires and interviews. Structured questionnaire is used to analyse the following:

Characteristics that teachers need to enable them to adopt the framework for 21st Century Skill

The personal and/or professional obstacles preventing the teachers from implementing 21st century skills in the classroom.
My research indicates that there is a need for a holistic approach for implementing change towards more creative learning and innovative teaching and for that teacher qualification and further continuous professional development is key in preparing teachers for 21st century classrooms.
A study on how the skills and attributes of teachers impacts on the quality of education of Primary students in the 21st Century.

1. Introduction

Educators around the globe are adopting a plethora of reforms to better prepare students for the demands of life after school in the 21st century.
Education, in its entirety, needs to be redefined, redesigned and rebuilt to ensure that students are equipped and able to handle said demands. In a rapidly changing society, students need to learn relevant skills for respective professions along with learning the core subjects Maths, English, Science and Arts. Hence the concept of school, teacher, learners and curriculum needs to be redefined. Learning and teaching should change in order to meet the learners’ needs.

This is no small challenge, and it is the responsibility of the educators to make sure the change is lasting and positively impactful. We have no idea of what the world will look like in five years, yet we are meant to be educating for it. As a generation we are currently facing many large-scale issues such as global warming, economic upheaval, healthcare, overpopulation and other environmental and societal issues. Emerging technologies and resulting globalisation also provide unlimited possibilities for existing discoveries and developments.

Is a “good school” for our current society also a “good school” for those primary students who will occupy decision making roles in the year 2030 and beyond? What are the skills that the primary students of today, who will be graduating in 2030 and beyond, demand in this rapidly changing world?

In previous generation, students depended on teachers for access to knowledge. But with digital information and algorithms available at the speed of light, students have, not just the world, but the universe at their fingertips. The shift in the Bloom’s Taxonomy from the bottom-up is no longer a suggestion, but a necessity. On the top end of the taxonomy, creativity and innovation, have been recognized as a necessary step towards solving employability, which in turn reflects on person and societal issues. This creativity and innovation needs to be deliberately and systematically weaved into the curriculum allowing students to fully express themselves through all core subjects, not just limiting to Arts.

In the past, a ‘one size fits all’ model, standardization and traditional didactic teaching was enough, but today teachers are expected to personalize learning based on their learning styles which are being assessed using tools like multiple intelligence mapping and international bench mark assessment data; taking learning to the learner in ways that allow students to learn in ways that are most contributing to their progress.

In order to ensure effective and optimum teaching using digital resources and systems to track student progress and learning, teachers need to attain skills in technology and distinguish the differences between learning to use technology and using technology for learning.

When the role of a teacher is redefined and the education systems places much greater emphasis on empowering young learners to become lifelong learners, to manage multifaceted ways of thinking and innovative ways of tackling global issues, students thrive and flourish. Students, themselves, need to be capable of constantly adapting to ever-changing situations, but also have the need to learn and grow.

These changes have far-reaching implication for teachers. How equipped our teachers are to prepare the students for life after school and what competencies do teachers need, to teach effectively those skills? What is the role of teachers in leading innovation, both inside and outside the classroom?

To answer these questions, government and school leaders need to re-examine the following:

  • Reviewing and revising teacher education programme
  • Continuing professional development and measuring the impact in lessons to help teachers to engage a 21st century classroom.
  • The quality of recruiting systems
  • Performance management system
  • Investing in creating learning communities who collaborate continuously within schools and networks that are learning organisations to share best practices.
  • Teachers’ working environment
  • The economics of teacher supply and demand.
  • The role of the teaching profession in leading innovation, both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Teacher Licensing
  • Social Status

Change of leadership profile of school leaders is not a choice; it is a necessity or rather a natural consequence. Schools leaders of 21st century need to find the right balance between leadership in leading learning, administration and management as such, is an active facilitator of change. 21st century educational leaders, and the school as an organization, constantly need to ask the question “Are we meeting the learning needs of students within our constantly changing world?”
2. Literature Review
We know that the future is more unpredictable than ever and learning experiences today can best help students to cope up with the unfinished and live with uncertainties. Per Dalin (1998)
Julie A.S (1999) clearly explains that new teacher leadership roles are emerging as educators and policy makers seek to improve the three major phases of the teaching career continuum: Teacher preparation, induction and ongoing professional development.
It is an often-quoted statement that the quality of any education system is significantly dependent on the quality of teachers in their own system (Barber & Mourshed, 2007). In the 21st century, teacher professionalism that ensures the quality of teachers demands a set of specialized knowledge and skills (Darling-Hammond, 2010). However, this details only two of the challenges. Preparing children for the unknown future requires preparing teachers using teacher education programmes to face opportunities and challenges that come with it (Goodwin, 2015).
Moorman and Nusche (2007) describes the increased need for flexibility to adapt the curriculum and classroom instruction to meet individual needs places greater demands on teachers’ pedagogical competence.
A body of literature suggests teacher education curricula need to reflect the changing needs of the school system. The modern professional role involves an extended set of competencies including teaching an increasingly diverse range of learners, values education, literacy and numeracy across the curriculum, using assessment data effectively, engaging in action research and self-review, collaborating in school teams (including inter-agency working) and integrating technology effectively. Crocker and Dibbon (2008) Finnish Institute for Educational Research, 2009; Calder and Grieve (2004).
As is true for most teacher education programmes around the world, the teaching practicum is one of the key components for preparing new teachers. This involves applying the know-how, acquired from the teacher education courses, in a real-life classroom. For an effective teacher education course, coherence between the courses and teaching practicum or clinical practice is essential.
Harris (2011) McKinsey (2010) As teachers are key to the quality of any education system, teacher education programmes that aspire to develop 21st century teacher professionalism among its graduates need to be cognizant of the need for a 21st century curriculum which is interdisciplinary, project based, research-driven, connected to the community and collaborative, embraces technology, authentic assessments and service learning, and nurtures higher order thinking skills, multiple intelligences and 21st century literacy Lim.K.M (2013)
Gardener. H (2005) further explains all human beings possess 8/9 multiple intelligences. A dimension on which the human beings differ. No two people possess exactly the same profile of intelligences. The way in which one carries out a task in virtue of one’s goal.
He also clarifies in the present as well as in the future — creative thinking is becoming a norm and will continue to grow. Being a creative thinker will no longer be exceptional, but instead expected.
Technological change has been so rapid and its implications for teaching and learning so profound, that faculties of education have not yet “fully considered or understood the best ways to proceed in teacher preparation in a digital world” La Grange and Foulkes (2004).
Above all, service to the profession and community focuses on teachers’ commitment to growing beginning teachers within their profession through active collaborations and striving to become better practitioners in order to benefit the teaching fraternity as a whole” Lim.K.M (2013)
Adams, Kutty and Zabidi (2017) in an International Journal of Educational Leadership mentioned about the existence of variance on educational leadership conceptualizations. The labels used in this field have evolved from ‘educational administration’ to ‘educational management’ and, now, to ‘educational leadership’ (Bush, 2011; Gunter, 2004).
Dimmock (1999) acknowledges there are competing definitions between administration, leadership and management while also differencing these concepts: Leaders [experience] tensions between competing elements of leadership, management, and administration. Irrespective of how these terms are defined, leaders experience difficulty in deciding the balance between higher order tasks designed to improve staff, student and performance (leadership), routine maintenance of present operations (management) and lower order duties (administration).
Botha (2013) stressed that there must first be a major shift in the definition of educational leadership to allow for the reconstruction of thinking, assumptions and practices. Over the last decade, strong efforts are made to ensure upcoming school leaders gain adequate accredited training with hands on experiences in school settings, classroom theoretical exposure, and relevant professional development to prepare them for a role of school leadership (Scot, 2015; Hilliard & Jackson, 2011).
Educational leaders of the 21st century is not a requirement but a necessity to ensure 21st century teaching and learning (Reeves, 2011)
3 Research Questions
3.1 What are the attributes and skills that teachers need to enable them to adopt the framework for 21st Century Skills?
3.2 What are the personal and/or professional obstacles preventing them from implementing 21st century skills in the classroom?
3.3 What are the different roles and responsibilities of 21st century school Leaders- Changing profile of School Leadership?
4. Definition of Key Terms
There is a need to define key terms used in the title of the study in order to establish the framework of reference with which the investigator approaches the problem. The key terms are:
4.1 Skills: Proficiency, facility, or dexterity that is acquired or developed through training or experience
4.2 Attributes: Something endorsed as belonging to a person, thing, group- a quality, character, characteristic or property.

4.3 21st Century Education: It is about providing students the skills namely Creativity, Critical thinking, Communication, Collaboration(4Cs) they need to succeed in the new world and helping them grow the confidence to practice those skills for life after school.

4.4 Teacher: One who imparts knowledge to or instruct (someone) as to how to do something, cause (someone) to learn or understand something.

5. Research Objectives
The aim of the study is to evaluate the changing role of a Teacher for Primary Students in the 21st Century to achieve the following objectives:
5.1 To identify the characteristics that teachers need to enable them to adopt the framework for 21st Century Skills?
5.2 To investigate the personal and/or professional obstacles preventing the teachers from implementing 21st century skills in the classroom?
5.3 To analyse the effectiveness of the role of teacher in the 21st century?
5.4 To identify the aspects which need to be recalibrated to ensure the effectiveness of the teacher training/qualification.
5.6 To understand the different roles and responsibilities of 21st century school leaders- Changing profile of School Leadership?
6. Hypothesis
Hypotheses formulated for the present study are:
6.1 Teachers are not effectively trained to adapt the framework for 21st Century Skills.
6.2 Teacher training/qualification programme has not been effectively reviewed/revised/standardised.
6.3 Teachers who are the change agents have not been empowered to become active partners while reviewing the educational policy.
6.4 Staff turnover is high.
6.5 Difficulty of School Leaders in deciding the right balance between leadership, management and administration.
7. Need and Significance of the study
There is a global concern that our educational system is outdated and do not promote the necessary skills nor do they prepare the students for next stage in their life which is more complicated and competitive.
In order for individuals to flourish in the 21st century, an era of globalization and digitalization, the emphasis is on empowering the young learners. They have to be equipped with most important skills of the 21st century critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity along with their academic knowledge.
Therefore, the role of teachers has changed and continues to change from being an instructor to becoming a constructor, facilitator, coach, and creator of learning environments. Today teachers are required to be facilitators helping learners to make judgements about the quality and validity of new sources and knowledge, be open-minded and critical independent professionals, be active co-operators, collaborators, and mediators between learners and what they need to know, and providers to scaffold understanding (Weinberger, Fischer, & Mandl, 2002).
Hence it is necessary and right time to analyse the role of teacher in the 21st century which has become more multifaceted in the present changing world. The significance of the study is to clearly understand how effectively the teachers are equipped to prepare the students for future. This study will also help to understand in detail about the changing profile of school leadership.
8. Research Methodology
The study can be conducted by using structured questionnaires and interviews. Structured questionnaire can be used to analyse the following:
Characteristics that teachers need to enable them to adopt the framework for 21st Century Skill
The personal and/or professional obstacles preventing the teachers from implementing 21st century skills in the classroom.
Various primary and secondary sources and the sources available through internet will be
used for additional information. The data collected will be tabulated, analyzed and
presented with the help of appropriate tools of analysis.
Face to Face interviews will be conducted with teachers and school leaders.

Population of the Study:
Population of the study will be the teachers and leaders in Dubai/UAE schools of different curricula.

9. Scope and Limitation
The one limitation of the study is the population is expatriates who temporarily residing in United Arab Emirates (UAE).

10. Conclusion
The study mainly focus on the role change of teachers in the 21st century and how well the teachers are equipped to empower the young learners to take charge of their learning thus preparing them for future. This study will also discuss the changing profile of school leaders in terms of the paradigm shift from educational management to educational leadership. This will give an insight into the gap, if any and are there any clear directions evolving in the area of school improvement?

11. Reference
2. Julie A. Sherrill (1999) Preparing teachers for leadership roles in the 21st century, Theory Into Practice, 38:1, 56-61, DOI: 10.1080/00405849909543831
3. Lim, K. M. (2013, September). Teacher education in Singapore. Paper presented at the SEAMEO RIHED Regional Seminar on Teacher Education, National Institute of Education, Singapore,
4. Lim, K. M. (2014, October). Teacher education and teaching profession in Singapore. Paper presented at International Conference on the Teaching Profession in ASEAN, Bangkok, Thailand.
5. Harris, A. (2011). System improvement through collective capacity building. Journal of Educational Administration, 49, 624-636.
6. McKinsey & Company. (2010). How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better. Retrieved from How-the-Worlds-Most-Improved-SchoolSystems-Keep-Getting-Better_Download-version_ Final.pdf
7. Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). Teacher education and the American future. Journal of Teacher Education, 6, 35-47.
8. Crocker and Dibbon(2008) Finnish Institute for Educational Research, 2009; Calder and Grieve, 2004
9. Towards Schooling for 21st Century: Per Dalin 1998
10. Five minds for the future : Howard Gardener 2005
11. La Grange, A. & Foulke, E. (2004). Emergent framework for ICT integration within faculties of education in Canada. Prepared for Industry Canada on behalf of Canadian Association of Deans of Education (CADE) L’Association francophone des doyennes et des doyens, des directrices et des directeurs d’éducation du Canada (AFDÉC).
12. Botha, R. J. (2013). Epistemological beliefs and leadership approaches among South African school principals. Educational Studies, 39(4), 431-443.
13. Bush, T. (2011). Theories of Educational Leadership and Management, 4th edn. London: SAGE.
14. Gunter, H. (2004). Labels and labelling in the field of educational leadership. Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education, 25(1), 21-41.
15. Reeves, D. (2011). Finding your leadership focus: What matters most for students results. New York, NY: Teachers college Press.
16. Scott, C. L. (2015). The Futures of Learning 3: What kind of pedagogies for the 21st century? UNESCO Education Research and Foresight, Paris. [ERF Working Papers Series, No. 15].
17. Hilliard, A., & Jackson, B. T. (2011). Current trends in educational leadership for student success plus facilities planning and designing. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 4(1), 1-8.
22. B Johnson and Mel Roy)
23. Weinberger, Fischer, & Mandl (2002). Fostering individual transfer and knowledge convergence in text based computer-meditated communication. 40-44

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