Top Five Characteristics of a 21st Century Educator

Last week’s blog post looked at some of the characteristics of a successful 21st century learner.  But what does it mean to be an educator in a world that is continuously changing and moving at tremendously fast speeds?  

Traditionally, teachers have delivered information to students much like a ‘sage on the stage’, but if children are to be truly future ready, the 21st century teacher needs to be more of a ‘guide on the side’, supporting learners in exploring and expressing their unique competencies in order to grow and flourish as individuals.  

Here are the top five characteristics that today’s teachers must embrace to make the education space mutually rewarding and enjoyable for their students, themselves and other teachers alike: 

Love for learning 

Successful 21st Century educators don’t just expect their students to be lifelong learners, but they too stay current and on top of what’s new in education as well as other fields that interest them. They enjoy acquiring new knowledge and are enthusiastic about new experiences. They endeavour to stay current and know how to change old lesson plans to be more suitable for today.

When teachers love to learn, their enthusiasm will naturally inspire students too, contributing to a more stimulating classroom environment. Students will also feel free to share their knowledge and ideas with the teacher, which helps them build confidence and grow into independent thinkers. 


The 21st century teacher models empathy every day and gives students plenty of opportunities to demonstrate it. Why is empathy so important? Because it is a natural companion to tolerance and the ability to understand the diversity in our world makes it easier to see things from multiple perspectives. This in turn nurtures individuals who are conscious about using their knowledge and skills to help improve the human condition and make a positive contribution to the world. A good way to embrace empathy in the classroom is through integrating the use of games and websites into the lesson such as those mentioned here.  


Technology is changing at a rapid pace and that means that a 21st century teacher must enjoy riding the change. The latest gadgets, applications, software and websites enable incredible transformation in the way we learn, whether it’s personalisation of lessons or gamification of the learning process. The 21st century educator understands and capitalises upon this through not only keeping abreast of the latest trends, but also experimenting with new tools and techniques that can enhance both their own and their students’ learning.  However, this does not mean that technology is used just for the sake of it, even in instances where other teaching methods would be more appropriate. Effective 21st century teachers are able to integrate technology in the classroom to truly inspire and advance student learning. 


Well-known educational author, Harry K. Wong, states that the trademark of effective schools is a culture where all teachers take responsibility for the learning of all students. The 21st century educator understands this and recognises that a student shouldn’t be the responsibility of only one teacher, but of all teachers.

Sharing expertise and experience, and communicating and learning from others is an important part of the learning and teaching process. Therefore, teachers today must value working with others and be comfortable contributing their unique ideas and perspective within a team. 

Increased effective collaboration exposes teachers to improved practices, which leads to stronger pedagogy. And of course, the more effective a teacher is, the more the students will benefit and thrive.


in a world where technology can answer any question we Google, students need more opportunities to learn how to brainstorm and think creatively in order to succeed. Creativity is definitely different for different people. For some, it may be about inventing new ways to do the same things, while for others, it may involve the process of discovering new things. No matter what the concept, the 21st century educator makes it a priority to motivate children to be inventive, resourceful and expressive. 

They do this through creating a classroom where the flow of invention is not disrupted by the regular class routines, textbooks and assignments. A creativity-driven classroom is characterised by enthusiastic question-answer sessions, assessment of performance and feedback, cooperation with others when it comes to sharing ideas, as well as the independence to freely express oneself.