I am often asked my thoughts on how teachers and staff should be hired to fulfill the mission of developing 21st Century Schools. In recent years I have considered what I would do differently, and what are the skills that are necessary for the "ideal" 21st Century faculty and staff to work in a district. My immediate reaction is that they need a strong background in their instructional speciality, thats a given. But, they also need to demonstrate, show practical application of, and actual use of digital skills and digital learning, and they must have a pronounced digital footprint on the Internet.
Here are a list of some of the things I would want to see, either in an interview or in a candidate's portfolio:
1) Presence and use of Facebook.
- In this day and age, it is inexcusable for educators to avoid using Facebook. The ability to upload photos, stories, news items, and connect with not only friends, and colleagues, but students and their families builds a connection that cannot be ignored anymore for fear of violation of privacy. How wonderful that students learn their teacher has a hobby and interests that makes them human and quite inspiring.
2) Presence and use of Twitter
- The same holds true for Twitter, as for Facebook. Being able to post information, weblinks, homework help and other things can model for students how impactful Twitter can be for them. Besides, it is important for kids to learn how to summarize issues in 140 characters.
3) Presence and use of Linked In
- Anyone that calls themselves a "professional" should be registered and actively using Linked In. It is the professional website for connecting with colleagues around the world and with professional associations, as well as looking for job opportunities in a user friendly environment.
3) Active use of a wiki, website or blog
- Educators would be required to demonstrate their understanding of how to use a web format that presents their professional, and scholarly side. Parents enjoy reading these tools and students refer to them constantly.
4) Demonstrated use of Google Advanced Search Systems
- All educators that would work in my ideal school would need to do more with search engine then just a "google.com" query. I would expect each teacher to know how to do a Boolean search inquiry either with Advanced Google or another browser.
5) Working understanding and use of PC and OS computer platforms
- We no longer live in a world that is divided by PC or Mac. All professionals need to understand both systems. It's time we become "ambidextrous" regarding platforms, tablets, smartphones, etc.
6) Demonstrated use of presentation programs such as PowerPoint, Keynote and other software.
- Once again, it is inexcusable for anyone teaching and not having an understanding of these presentation programs. While some lectures are "PowerPointless" to begin with, I would want teachers to have a tasteful understanding and use of these programs to support instruction, not overtake it.
7) Active use of iMessage or other texting apps
- Texting can be a very powerful tool for instruction or your worst nightmare, but it is an important instructional opportunity that can enhance communication. If kids are shown the right way to use texting they will be more focused on making great strides on learning to communicate respectfully, and properly.
8) Active subscriber of electronic professional journals and organizations
- Even though I would not be legally able to do this, I would love to visit a candidates dwelling to figure out what they are reading and how. My ideal educators would be using an e-Reading system for their magazines, books and other materials.
9) A healthy digital footprint
- This goes without saying. Type in a candidate's name in a simple Google Search and unlock the world of who they really are. And, I would be more suspect of anyone that did not have a footprint!
10) A well spoken individual.
- Lastly, I want a well-spoken person that presents well in a professional forum.
No doubt, some will disagree with these requirements for a 21st Century educator, but that would be their opinion, since this list represents mine. If you want the status quo, then continue hiring people who have no understanding of these tools. If you want an innovator, have at it...