My Personal Philosophy of 21st -Century Learning
The ability for increasing diverse students to learn, respond, and communicate in a variety of
ways is central to 21st century learning. As an educator, I understand this and adapt in
order to facilitate a variety of learning pathways. My focus is on teaching students how
to think, rather than what to think. The skills students need to master now include the ability to
think critically and discern information; the ability to both identify and solve problems, the ability
to innovate, the ability to communicate with a global audience, the ability to collaborate
effectively, and the ability to be autonomous learners. I believe 21st-century skills can be learned
through reframed curricula by refocusing my classroom to encourage collaboration, problem-solving
tasks, project-based learning, and global classroom connections via a variety of media.
21st-Century Skills: Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking
In order for my students to achieve these 21st-century skills, I must encourage creative
thinking, self-directed learning, and creative problem-solving. Inquiry learning promotes critical
thinking by drawing students deeply into a topic to seek information, make predictions and
conclusions, and spur innovative thinking. By asking students leading questions, I
model for them how to ask and answer these questions to seek information. I am also
encouraging engaged learning, contemplation, and discussion. Additionally, by asking essential
questions and helping students develop their own essential questions, my students are able to
practice analyzing and evaluating information.
Active thinking and learning are vital components of 21st century learning. I believe a change in
pedagogy toward the encouragement of creativity is upon us with the rise of project-based and
problem-based learning, as well as choice and inquiry-driven education such as Genius Hour
and maker-based programs. Project-based learning and cooperative learning have the
potential, if facilitated correctly and effectively, to help narrow the achievement gap by
increasing all student engagement.
However, I believe skills for collaboration must be explicitly taught. At all grade levels, the skills gained
from sharing ideas and critiquing the ideas of others is essential for engagement. Students fare
better academically when allowed to work together and learn from each other rather than sit and
listen to direct teaching. Collaboration also can help to build self-esteem and social-emotional
Prior to the 21st-century, teaching provided instruction for students to write and communicate
orally. Now, in addition to the foundations, we are asking to students to design ways to use
writing and oral communication to collaborate with a global audience. I want my students to
understand the value of global connectedness and responsibility, and to collaborate with others
from different parts of the world to communicate and solve problems. I encourage global
connectedness in my students by being a globally connected educator: I seek connections with other teachers and classrooms around
the world so my students can be globally connected.
The achievement of adequate life and career skills requires the development of these skills; in
addition to initiative and self-direction, effective social and cross-cultural skills, productivity and
accountability, and leadership and responsibility. As an educator, I can promote the
development of these skills by actively engaging students in solving real-world problems and
facilitating authentic learning experiences.
Resiliency, Failure, and Growth Mindset
Finally, I believe I must teach students to be resilient, flexible, and adaptable in learning.
I need to support students when they fail, encouraging resilience and innovation. I must
model risk-taking and how to learn from failure. Students that acquire these skills will be better
equipped to handle the ebb and flow of the workforce to be creative, productive, and well-prepared.
I must demonstrate a growth mindset, and encourage this mindset in my students.
The Changing Role of the Educator
This demonstrates the shifting role of the teacher: I believe our roles are evolving into a the role of
facilitators of learning and curators of content: we must know how to implement technology
effectively to maximize the learning potential for our students. In order to increase engagement
and growth, I devise methods of personalizing learning for increasingly autonomous learners.
Technology will help me achieve this. As an educator in the 21st-century, I must
be technology literate, and able to use technology tools creatively in order to organize effective
learning environments for our students. With the advent of technology and the digital landscape,
our students can learn anything immediately. More than ever, I must show students where to
seek information, and how to analyze and evaluate the information they find. I believe educators need to
revise teaching to ask our students to be innovative: rather than merely seeking, they must
produce questions and create their own solutions to problems.