9. Think critically

“I tell my 5th grade students every year that my goal is to get them to think like a scientist—evidence-based rational thought processing.” —Malinda Sommers, Meadowlawn, Perkins School District, Ohio

“The one skill I would like every student to embrace and develop is the ability to learn things by trial and error, or in other words, how to learn from one’s own mistakes. Too many times in my teaching career I have seen students paralyzed by the fear of getting something wrong, when in reality, getting things wrong is one of the best, if not the best way to learn anything! Rather than shy away from possible errors, students should be taught to dig into their mistakes and figure out why it even is a mistake.” —Joe Iwanski, Dwight-Englewood School

“Critical decision-making skills. Without good decision-making skills, students can’t analyze information or what steps to take to achieve personal and academic goals. They need to understand that every decision has consequences–good or bad.” —Tara Funk

“It would be the ability to analyze a problem, to be able to deal with an unfamiliar situation, and to be able to reason his/her way to a credible (not necessarily right) solution.” —Don Smith, Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Students need critical thinking skills; they need to be able to apply knowledge and be problem solvers. If they can think outside the box and learn to feel comfortable with their own creativity, then we might have helped our students learn to be their own teachers.” —Margaret Ross

10. Be happy

“The skill I think students need most is how to be a happy, caring person. Although it isn’t directly taught in school, if the focus was on character education at home and at school, we would see a decrease of all sorts of negative things in our world and an increase in the positive. It amazes me today how much the students’ personal lives interfere with their learning. How can a student learn who is hungry? Scared? Tired? Anxious?” —Sherril Studley