Professional Development Newsletter
Virtual Learning Tools Folder
We are constantly adding and updating resources in the Virtual Learning Tools Folder in the AMI-X Plans 2020-2021 Shared Drive. Make sure you check this often!
If you find a resource that you feel would benefit other teachers, please let Ms. Greiner or Ms. Ward know and we will check it out!
Teaching Soft Skills
by Becton Loveless
Education is dominated by discussion of the hard sciences these days, with great emphasis placed on STEM instruction. This has left teachers of other subjects, such as art or history, feeling a little left out of the conversation surrounding how to adequately prepare students for future careers. However, even less discussed are the soft skills that students need to succeed once they’re out of college and in the work force. There are rarely classes designed specifically for soft skills, but that doesn’t mean these skills aren’t important. Soft skills include talents such as creative problem solving that are distinguished from hard skills in a few important ways.
Hard Skills Versus Soft Skills
Hard skills, as opposed to soft skills, are the types of skills that students routinely get taught in school. These are skills that are easily quantifiable. For instance, when a student performs well in school, they receive high marks for grades and, eventually, are awarded a degree demonstrating that they’ve attained a certain level of mastery in those skills. It’s easy to check the degree of mastery over these skills because grades can easily be looked up.
Soft skills are a lot harder to quantify. While you can hand out certificates for skills, like leadership, how do you actually quantify leadership? A grade of 90 in math can represent that a student scored nine out of ten questions right, and those questions can easily be checked and verified. Quantifying and verifying these subjects is easy. Soft skills cannot be quantified and verified with the same ease. However, soft skills are still incredibly important, and schools still need to communicate these topics to students.
When students move beyond school and move into their careers, they’ll list their soft skills the same as they list their soft skills. Hard skills might be listed, such as data analysis or mathematics. Someone applying for a job can point to their degree in these areas, which suggest they made sufficient grades in these areas. However, students will also list soft skills like “detail-oriented” or “leadership.” Since hiring managers look at both hard and soft skills, it’s important for activities to be developed that teach both. Since most students will never find the opportunity to take a class that specializes in teamwork, for example, it falls to teachers to integrate the instruction of soft skills into their existing courses.
Examples of Soft Skills
So, what are some soft skills and how are they used? Every job will prioritize different soft skills, but here are some of the skills that are most frequently identified as necessary in the workforce. Many times, these broad soft skills encompass smaller skills, such that many smaller skills help prepare a student to be successful broad categories such as teamwork or communication.
Soft skills are more important than ever for success in the workforce, given that the modern work environment places such a high priority on teamwork and communication. However, the modern school curriculum leans very heavily on teaching hard skills. As such, it falls to teachers to find ways of integrating soft skills into their current instruction.
Teachers can get an idea for how to integrate soft skills into their instruction from several resources. However, there are always going to be some general principles to follow. Teachers should create or adapt existing activities so that there is a heavy emphasis on group work, independent research, communication between peers, time management, and presentation. By placing a strong emphasis on group dynamics, teachers can mimic the sort of work environment that many students will find themselves in once they leave school behind for the workforce.
Teachers won’t always have the time to tailor make activities that perfectly integrate hard skills and soft skills. However, once you’ve identified a few key activities, you can adapt new lessons to integrate these same activities in future lessons. This can help keep your preparation time down, while still creating the kind of integrated activity that helps students not only improve their content knowledge, but also improve the ability to apply that knowledge in the workplace.
Submitted by: Wytney Steelman
Four Tips for Surviving December
1. Keep Up Your Routines and Expectations: Just because it is the holiday season, we should NOT just relax and "let things go." If we keep our established rules routines and expectations in place, we will be able to still learn during this exciting time. Structure is important for students...and adults; it allows all involved to feel safe, valued, and able to accomplish tasks (even through the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season).
2. Be Flexible: Sticking with routines and expectations is important, but also be aware that things may have to change due to weather, assessments, hybrid, etc. Try not to get frustrated and remember, everything we do is for student success!
3. Take Breaks: December can be VERY tiring! With getting ready for the holiday season with friends and family, and staying on top of expectations in our classrooms, it is important to know that taking a break is needed for us to function and be alert....not to mention that we need to be sure we are taking care of our bodies to stay healthy!
4. BREATHE: Make sure you are taking time to just breathe. We take time to check in on students with their social/emotional well-being. Be sure you do the same for YOU.
Great information for building student relationships through the virtual setting. Refer to image below for details.
Professional Development Committee Information
The PD Committee Meets on the Last Tuesday of Each Month at 3:30pm in the MS/HS Library. If you need any Professional Development Support, please contact one of the committee members below.
Professional Development Committee Members:
Maygen Ward-Chair & District Instructional Coach
Amanda Munson-Administrative Liaison
Stephanie Greiner-District Curriculum Director
Linda Buchanan-Elementary Instructional Coach
Mandy Adey-middle school
Shelly Mutzebaugh-middle school
Kary Harrah-high school
Matt Peterson-high school
Wytney Steelman-vocational building