I have had the good fortune to teach in several countries. Throughout each of these adventures, I have found more similarities than differences in how we teach and learn. Three ubiquitous attributes of success in particular found included the ability to be flexible, adaptable and tolerate (or FAT). Marzano defines flexibility as “realizing or creating chaos and then adjusting (or adapting) to it”. Flexibility may sound easy at first, however, educators have many events, people and situations that require their flexibility, often at the same time and even more often one resolution may hinder the resolution of another. In these cases, a triage priority is needed, with a clear plan to support the situation which may not have perceived their value.
Two major ways, which we can increase our flexibility that align to 21st Century teaching is to offer differentiated instruction and online learning- often these can be accomplished simultaneously. Capitalizing on appropriate, meaningful and relevant (ARM) instructional technology is critical when addressing these attributes both in efficiency and building sustainable behaviors for 21st Century learners and leaders. Examples of such technology include Podcasts, Virtual Fieldtrips, Worlds and Manipulatives, Wikis, and Digital Storytelling. Specific helpful websites include The Elements: A Visual Exploration, Science 360, Frog Dissection, Wolfram Alpha. Online learning can provide anytime, anywhere, any topic flexibility, especially with the relatively new Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Top Tier university programs such as Stanford’s Coursera and MIT EdX now offer their curriculum and courses free to hundreds of thousands of learners about the world. The courses are free and now there are hundreds of offerings for every topic.