The majority of teachers entered the profession not only to teach but to make a difference to young people's lives. With calls from employers to ensure students are equipped for the world of work, there's no better opportunity to action this mindset and help students get a rounded education that goes beyond the curriculum requirements. We look at simple ways for educators to build their students' skills, without adding to workloads.
Getting the right skills
To ensure students are prepared for the world of work, it makes sense to look at what employers actually want. Research by the CBI showed that businesses value the following skills:
- Resilience: employers are looking for staff who can self-manage and handle setbacks if they occur
- Communication: this is an essential skill, influencing everything from relationships with colleagues to being able to deal effectively with customers
- Problem solving: as technology and businesses evolve at a rapid rate, employers are looking for staff who are adaptable and can find ways to work around challenges
- Teamwork: working effectively alongside colleagues is essential as it helps to build on success and create a pleasant, efficient workplace.
All of these skills can be learnt and teachers can incorporate their development into lessons without encroaching on already cumbersome workloads.
How to build skills development into lessons
There are a few simple ways that teachers can help to develop the skills that employers are seeking as part of the existing curriculum.
Dealing with challenges is something we can all find difficult but it's a necessary skill for life. Students are likely to face challenges as they encounter difficult work, changing relationships or challenging home circumstances.
- Depending on the subject, resilience can be discussed when looking at literature, scientific advancement or history. The survival tactics of modern day businesses in a tough economic environment would also be topical and directly relevant to the world of work.
- Receiving feedback is another good opportunity for students to learn to handle constructive criticism and make changes as a result. There are diverse ways of giving feedback beyond the traditional pen and paper approach from teachers. Verbal feedback is important and can still be given even when not face-to face-by using software. You can also help students learn to receive feedback from their peers, helping them to become familiar with comments from different sources.
Increasing communication skills
Both verbal and written communication is important to employers so look for opportunities for students to develop both.
- Allow students to express themselves in writing, on video or in person. Mix up the way they are asked to deliver their work. Software can give you the ability to feedback on everything from presentations to music and dance performances, allowing teachers to mark with the same ease, regardless of the format.
- Give students opportunities to feedback to others. Student-to-student peer review can be a good opportunity to understand how language can influence people and change their behaviour. Teachers can use online software to manage and monitor this.
Problem solving in the learning environment
The ability to think laterally and solve problems can be built into many different activities.
- Creativity can be applied to any subject, not just the arts. Allow your students flexibility in how they approach their studies and be open to discussions about new ways of working.
- Build in opportunities for independent research. The internet is a fantastic resource, which allows students to look for information in different ways. If you're worried about plagiarism, there are resources that can make it easy to spot.
Getting students to work together and collaborate on projects is a great way to build collaboration skills. Allow students to provide feedback on their peers in a structured and constructive way, which in turn fosters vital team building skills essential for success in the workplace.
Looking for real-life business examples can bring topics to life and help students see how their learning could be applied beyond education. For example, in an English class you could analyse the construction of a business presentation by Steve Jobs or you could use business growth analysis in a statistics class.
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