The rise of computers and the Internet has changed the way we consume. From automated checkouts to online banking, every industry has been disrupted. Let’s take a look at the salesperson. I remember as a child having the door-to-door vacuum salesperson come to sell a Kirby vacuum to my parents.
Now, unless you are a child selling for a fundraiser, the door to door salesperson is largely obsolete. Our connected world has changed the role of the salesperson. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, these are the traits of someone who is successful in sales.
Notice that ‘product knowledge’ isn’t even on the list. Is it still important? Absolutely! It is just no longer the most important.
Education is not immune from industrial change either. The vast majority of schools and districts today offer courses online in a blended format, and that shift continues to increase rapidly. It is only natural to ponder the role of the teacher in the future. Will classes be lead by artificial intelligence robots? What will the role of an educator be in the future?
“The future-proof educator values human connection over classroom content.”
The future-proof educator focuses on the ways to make student learning more meaningful and personal through human connection- something that technology and robots cannot replace. Let students know that you care about them and that you value their unique skills. A knowledge base of curricular content is still important, but it isn’t the cornerstone for success it once was. In the future, human connection is king, and the future is now.
I have a rule that for every student I call home to report something troubling, I would call two other students to report positive news. Also, make it a point to catch that troubled student doing good in the near future, and make another phone call to the parent. A follow-up phone call with good news works wonders to keep that good mojo rolling!
A simple way to show students you care is to learn about their personal interests. I know a teacher who surveys the students on the first day of school. When the student arrives at school on his/her birthday, the student finds their favorite candy bar along with a little note explaining why he/she is special.
Have you ever run into a student at the grocery store? The look of astonishment on their face is enough to know that their perception of teachers is a bit skewed. (Yes, teachers actually buy food, too!) Allow students to know your interests as well. Don’t be afraid to share some of your life history with students. If it’s #ThrowbackThursday, pop up your prom picture to prove you once had friends!
Do you remember the last time a student came up to you excited for grading those tests in record time? Doing ‘teacher chores’ is an expectation, so it is largely unappreciated.
Use a filter from MSQRD to create a fun video or photo to share with the class. Little, unexpected gestures that make them smile will demonstrate an effort to students in ways that your three hours of planning never could.
“The future doesn’t have to be a scary place.”
If we can leverage the powerful tools that technology offers to make learning better, all the while focusing on building relationships, we will be an unstoppable force of change.
Let’s take one last look at that salesperson list from Entrepreneur Magazine again. What if the article was no longer titled, “Traits of a Successful Salesperson?” Those same traits could just as easily be from an article in an education publication, titled, “Traits of an Amazing Teacher.”
Let’s take it a step further… What if those traits instead were in an article in a computer magazine? It would be titled, “Things Technology Can’t Do.”
Don’t try to ‘out-Google’ the computer! Instead, ‘out-human’ it. Listen, be positive, be resourceful, ask questions, be personable, overachieve, and by all means be passionate. Do all of these things for your students, and you’ll always be future-proof!
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