Friday 21st August 2020

Fusion teachers for the future

What are the skills, knowledge, and professional capacities that teachers will need?  What will the fusion teacher of the future be like?

Fusion is a person-centric approach, equipping future and current teachers with technical expertise that is necessary for success. Fusion brings together different stakeholders to spark innovation. Fusions skills use interdisciplinary work as a driver for creativity and innovation. Fusion is not just a set of qualities or outcomes but is importantly process-led.

Fusion teaching programmes are a mix of academic, creative, technical and emotional learning. Fusion teaching is most evident in schools with high levels of lifelong learning, among both teachers and pupils. Fusion teaching merges several pedagogies into a coherent whole. It allows for face-to-face, hybrid and digitized delivery in an effective and exciting manner. Fusion teaching relies on close co-operation between schools (education), businesses, the creative and cultural sectors, and further and higher education. There are 12 identified Fusion Skills[i]:

1. Oral communication/presentation skills

2. Collaboration and teamwork

3. Initiative

4. Problem solving

5. Organisational skills (planning, time management, deadlines, prioritisation, multi-tasking)

6. Adaptability/flexibility

7. Written communication

8. Independent working/autonomy

9. Critical thinking

10. Resilience

11. Creativity

12. Analysis and evaluation skills

Teachers inspiring lifelong learning in these skills is vital for both their future as professionals and in the learning of the pupils. This can be demonstrated through a few examples.

To begin with, a huge part of teaching is communicating information. Both oral and written communication are the modes teachers use to gets their points across (fusion skills 1 and 7). It is essential that teachers can speak and write with a mixture of vocabulary, tone, point of view, and meaning to be persuasive, and to articulate content and concepts convincingly. Technology makes collaboration and teamwork with your colleagues easier and more convenient and facilitates a lower workload by sharing and working together (fusion skill 2). Effective teachers continue to learn and proactively build collaborations across networks and lead by influence rather than authority.

Initiative is important in educational implementation (fusion skill 3). High levels of teacher initiative are associated with greater effectiveness, capacity to overcome challenges, greater personal and professional sustainability and a stronger alignment in their practice towards ethical considerations. Schools must create an environment that encourages taking initiative. By contrast, many teachers cite a lack of competency in problem solving and conflict resolution as the main reason they leave the profession (fusion skill 4).

Also important are the teacher’s organisational skills (fusion skill 5). Agility and adaptability are heightened through active approaches to lifelong learning (fusion skill 6). Flexibility maximises innovation in schools and enables efficient use of their most precious human resources – the teachers.

Enthusiasm, confidence and resilience helps teachers in the complex world of the classroom (fusion skill 10). Pupils learn best when they are doing something engaging, fun and interesting. Outstanding teachers are creative in their approaches, finding novel and enjoyable ways for pupils to learn (fusion skill 11). Motivating pupils is a growing challenge for teachers. Capturing the pupils’ imagination becomes increasingly important in schools.

Teachers who reflect critically cultivate innovation and success (fusion skill 9). Analysis and evaluation competencies will be vital in the individualised and data-driven future that is emerging in education (fusion skill 12). Future data analysis could eliminate the need for exams and high stakes assessment and focus more on formative assessments and a real feedback culture. That has already happened in the United Kingdom and other places where data analytics, rightly or wrongly, replaced the summative testing process.

There is a lack of recognition of the importance of the development of Fusion Skills and teachers’ professional development programmes are largely still based on subject knowledge and behaviour management. How do we deliberately develop these fusion skills? Teachers learn best and improve most when they work with other teachers, when they have access to their practice, experience, students, knowledge, and insight. The teacher of the future should be a lifelong learner.

Professor Anne Bamford

Professor Anne Bamford OBE is Strategic Director of the Education, Culture and Skills for the City of London. Anne has been recognized internationally for her research in creativity, lifelong learning and technology. She instigated the term, ‘fusion skills’ to describe the competencies needed for flourishing now and into the future.