Heart of the Kingdom



Teachers training must be revamped, upgraded, and incorporate the skills and knowledge students need to succeed in the knowledge economy of the 21st century


21st Century Standards

These should focus on 21st century skills, content knowledge, and expertise. These benchmarks should be created to build understanding across and among academic subjects as well as the interdisciplinary themes. They should facilitate deep rather than shallow understanding.

They should require the students to use real world data, tools, and experts that they will encounter in college and on the job.

21st Century Curriculum and Instruction

21st Century Assessments

Today, on tests, there is too much emphasis on recalling discrete facts and not enough time and space devoted to problem solving and complex thinking.

Assessments must measure all five results that matter. These are: core subjects, 21st century content, learning and thinking skills, ITC Literacy and life skills.

Students should be allowed multiple measures of mastery such as tests, (formative, summative, and technology-enhanced exams coupled with quick, explanatory feedback), project-work, presentations, and portfolio artifacts.

21st Century Professional Development

Lack of professional development is one of the reasons 21st century skills are underemphasized in today’s classrooms. Perhaps part of this problem is that teachers, policymakers, and local communities must unlearn the beliefs, values, assumptions, and cultures underlying school’s industrial era operating practices, such as forty-five minute periods, six hour school days, and 180 schooldays per year.

Pd is an ongoing process that encourages collaborative sharing of research-based best practices, highlights ways teachers can integrate skills tools and teaching strategies in the classroom to make learning relevant, personalized, and engaging. Teachers are encouraged to balance direct instruction with project work. Facilitators will illustrate how deeper understanding of subject matter can enhance problem solving, critical thinking, and other 21st century skills. Finally PD cultivates teachers’ ability to identify students’ particular learning styles and intelligences and supports the implementation of continuous evaluations (both formative and summative). Finally professional learners should determine how learning support emotional physical and social well-being of all students including the gifted, ELL’s, and special education students.

Studies indicate that teachers want to learn how to use technology and incorporate digital resources to more effectively differentiate lessons .These new practices include video- and podcasting. They also want to access electronic aides for grading and data collection purposes. Furthermore PD should focus on empowering people networks and creating mentoring, coaching, and team teaching modalities.  Finally, PD program leaders should identify goals, track progress, communicate progress to stakeholders, and engage participants in improving success over time.

When planning to create teacher preparation programs 5 questions:

21st Century Learning Environments


Life Skills

Life skills must be incorporated into the pedagogy. These include  leadership, ethics, accountability, adaptability, personal productivity, personal responsibility, people skills, self-direction, and social responsibility.

Learning and Innovation Skills

Creative Thinking

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Collaboration and Communication

Information Literacy

Media Literacy

ITC Literacy

ITC literacy is the ability to use technology to develop 21st century content knowledge and skills in the context of learning core subjects.

Teacher Preparation Programs at Universities

For pre-service teachers

Attention College Deans!

To begin, identify leadership team and establish a consensus around a vision for transforming your program to meet the needs of 21st century teachers and learners.

Attention School Superintendents!

Create a system of hiring, recruiting, retaining and rewarding faculty who:


        Finally, Shanghai has created an educational system that will dovetail with the exposition of 21st century teaching and learning. Their system starts with a well-developed vision and framework for educating 21st century teachers. aligned starting salaries to those of other college graduates of similar preparation and intellectual prowess (e.g. engineers); raised the bar of selectivity for applicants to its school of education; provided in-depth teacher education; established a set of career paths for teachers (through 100 hours oer year of professional development).   These PD efforts will be subjected to measurement by serious, multifaceted evaluations. Finally, use a variety of bully pulpits to promote recognition of the value of teaching to the nation.
Using Singapore as a model we see that they have developed a system for growing the pipeline of school leaders through early identification, in-depth preparation and the nurturing of talent. This is a simple but powerful formula that the US should find ways to emulate.

In addition it might be beneficial to reflect on Shanghai’s approach to school turnaround: Shanghai's approach to turning around schools is based on pairing high-performing schools with low-performing ones and funding to the good school to help improve its pair. With this system, specific methods for improvement include: asking the principals of high-performing schools to also manage a low-performing school; creating clusters of high- and lower-performing schools where lead teachers participate in ‘teaching studios” across schools; and “empowered management” in which a high-performing school and a lower performing school sign a contract with the Shanghai Education Commission to raise the lower achieving school’s performance. If the data at the end of two years are positive, the contract can be extended another two years. So far Shanghai has turned around 60 schools with this approach. Could this turnaround model be adapted for the US context? Certainly, the logic of giving turnaround resources to school leaders who have proven track records makes a lot of sense.


National Public Education Support Fund. (2016). Singapore and shanghai.  Retrieved from  http://www.npesf.org/singapore-shanghai

P21 Partnership for 21st Century Learning. (n.d) Retrieved from


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