How can you prepare students for life beyond education?
Teacher Tips

How can you prepare students for life beyond education?

Tests and qualifications take up a lot of time and energy for today’s students. But grades are far from the only part of education. 

So-named life skills or soft skills (as they are known in the world of work) can easily be forgotten in the clamor for exam scores, but in many cases, they are equally if not more important enablers for future success. Skills such as budgeting, communication, leadership, personal safety or understanding basic laws are vital for independent living and contribution to society. 

In fact, 53% of teachers in the UK believe that life skills are more important than academic qualifications to young people’s success according to the Sutton Trust (2017) and a whopping 91% of CEOs globally say that they need to strengthen their organization’s soft skills according to PWC’s 2018 21st century CEOs survey. 

So what can you do in your classroom to help develop the crucial life skills your students will need for future success? Let’s have a look at some of the key skill sets at stake.

 

 

Teamwork

In a quantified exam-based education system, it’s very difficult to truly assess something as complex as teamwork. But boy oh boy is it a skill that can be immediately detected in the working world. 

Nearly all jobs require teamwork and many will also involve strong communication and leadership skills. Unsurprisingly these attributes don’t come naturally to everyone and they need to be acquired and practiced. Learning how to communicate, compromise and share credit are vital for achieving in the workplace and, let’s be honest here, also create a more harmonious community for us all to live in. 

In many ways, our obsession with individual working and considering helping your classroom neighbor as ‘cheating’ often undermines the development of teamwork skills at a young age. So what can we do to reinvigorate them?

Embracing collaborative activities into lessons is an essential part of this. Where possible associating teamwork with a graded activity helps to reinforce the message that these skills are essential to success. More broadly you can teach the importance of teamwork and break the idea down so that students can think about how they interact with others and what sort of behaviors they should try to emulate. Creating the idea that your class is a team and that everyone is working together to achieve success has the added bonus of building a more welcoming environment for everyone.

 

 

Critical thinking

Rarely in life can solutions be found by simply selecting the ‘right’ answer, yet exam preparation could easily create that impression for many motivated students.  

In the working world, and even outside it, problem-solving involves thinking critically about several possible solutions and judging the best path for the situation. Often people have to combine different skills such as creativity with analysis or data research – certainly a tough ask if you have never been pushed to do it before!

Fortunately, in the classroom, there are a myriad of ways to get students acquainted with more critical thinking: 

  • Encouraging active discussion as a small group or as a whole class can invite learners to question concepts and delve deeper- rather than just accepting one ‘correct’ response. 
  • Inviting reflection on topics. Getting pupils to think through their views on areas or how they have come to certain conclusions can help them better understand the full complexity of the issues raised. 
  • Embracing more cross-curriculum projects which build on multiple skill sets to reach a solution is also a great way to emulate more complex critical thinking.

 

 

Digital skills

Technology is an undeniable feature of modern life, inside and outside the workplace. A firm grasp of the digital tools that are relied upon in just about all professions is not merely an advantage, but a requirement. Skills such as computational thinking, digital analytics and coding are highly sought after and should be embraced into education.

While some schools remain squeamish about how much digital technology should be in classrooms, it is pretty clear at this point that failing to give students a hands-on digital education limits their future chances. 

There are multiple ways that classroom education can prepare students for the digital world. Hands-on access to digital tools through 1:1 programs creates an environment where students are happy and familiar with the way that devices and software work. Furthermore, awareness of how to use technology safely using principles like Digital Citizenship helps improve general awareness and security online.

 

 

Learning how to learn

Learning is something we must do throughout our lives. There are always new work skills, different perspectives, or exciting hobbies that can only be acquired through a bit (or maybe a lot) of concentrated study. 

But here’s the thing, knowing how to study and really get to grips with new concepts is a skill all of its own – one that needs to be learned. 

Providing students with the tools and knowledge they need to find the best learning solutions for themselves is something that needs to be incorporated into education. As teachers, minimizing spoon-feeding approaches and instead emphasizing student’s responsibility to take charge of their own learning process helps to develop these skills. 

With more responsibility, students can learn to recognize their own learning needs and work out how they best absorb information. This is hugely important for success at college and later in careers.

 

For more articles about the world of edtech and all the fantastic ways it can help your students to learn and grow, try out the Kami blog

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