The one who evolves fastest is the survivor of it all. This has been the law of nature right from inception. And it has never been more evident in our lives than the ongoing pandemic season.

Unlearn, re-learn, and upskill at the speed of thought. This is the new normal, as millions of students and teachers grapple with the realities of virtual learning. With routine learning and curricula, all juggled and innovated to meet new learning needs. But one thing is certain: the future belongs to those who can adapt to the virtual landscape and its related learnings. But the human element remains a driving force for all teaching and learning practices.

Why teachers must upskill  

Going tech: The pandemic has accelerated the need to be virtual and set the tone for ‘hybrid’ learning models. Therefore, Internet accessibility, technical skills, access to online teaching and learning methodologies are going to be crucial.  

Cross-and multi-disciplinary learning: Whether it is skills, workplaces, organizations or economies, everything is changing quickly. Therefore, siloed approaches are out and multi-functional roles and learning are in. Teaching and learning practices must fuse the knowledge from various disciplines, and teachers are the critical elements in this process.  

Valuing experiences outside the classroom: Learning and teaching is no longer restricted to the four walls of the classroom. It is also virtual and real world. Understanding the importance of experiences outside the classroom is critical to develop life skills and be a life-long learner. Teachers are the trailblazers of this change.

Attitude matters

Teachers need to develop the attitude, mindset and the passion of an explorer along with other skills like emotional intelligence, work-time-management, collaboration, leadership, critical thinking, and communication expertise. Teachers are breaking the traditional mold of imparting knowledge/wisdom and slipping into the roles of a coach and mentor wherein they nurture talent, challenge students, fan their curiosity and empower them with varied technical and life-skills. They are the new-age role models who inspire students to learn from failures and find opportunity, learn constantly and succeed in unpredictable times.

Going ahead, the larger question is, what are the requirements for the future teacher?

Teaching to teach: Research and support workshops and teaching-learning and assessment peer processes are necessary to upskill and upgrade.  

Collaborative and digital learning: With MOOCS, digital upskilling and implementing globally relevant teaching and learning practices are necessary.  

Hone key life skills: Self-evaluation, time management, mentor-coach facilitator, critical thinking, adaptability and empathy are critical.  

Incentivizing upskilling: It is estimated that there will be a shortage of 69 million teachers by the end of the 2030. The pandemic has catalyzed the globalization of teaching and learning, enabled by technology levelling the playing field. So, it is time to inspire, acknowledge and reward our teachers.  

Hone teaching practices and student engagement: This should be for faculty inclined to thinking beyond conventional education by learning more about pedagogy and making student experience, meaningful.

(This is a slightly modified version of an article originally published in The Hindu. The original article can be found at https://www.thehindu.com/education/educating-the-educator/article33258016.ece)