Durable skills, soft skills, or 21st-century skills--whatever you call them, these essential abilities will help students build their future success

5 skills for future success–and how to help students develop them


Durable skills, soft skills, or 21st-century skills--whatever you call them, these essential abilities will help students build their future success

From the classroom to the district director level, and eventually my own desk in the principal’s office, I have served in many different roles in K-12 education.

However, in the midst of my career, I left public education to spend 2 years in corporate America.  That experience, working in what some call the “real world,” has given me a somewhat different perspective from many of my peers.  By working the corporate world, I’ve seen the connections between what is taught in the classroom and how that knowledge is applied in the workplace. 

Perhaps more importantly, I believe I have pinpointed five abilities all students need to develop before leaving K-12 schooling behind and moving into the world we call adulthood. 

Among those abilities are:

1. Critical thinking: Many folks go through the motions in their working lives–following directions, meeting quotas, and, simply put, people pleasing! However, those individuals who question everything, refute the status quo, and take risks are often rewarded for their initiative. As a middle and high school teacher these days, I help students become thinkers first and foremost. Yes, I am a STEM teacher, but not one of the fields that make up STEM can be explored with any level of success without independent thinking.

One resource I use to teach students how to think is Teach Different. Students paraphrase a simple quote, then look at the statement from an opposing lens, and eventually answer an essential question that makes each child truly take a side in the argument this process has created.

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