Essential Education

I've agreed to take on CTQ's Teacherpreneur Brianna Crowley's PA Blogging Challenge for a few reasons.

1 - I want to blog regularly. Believe me, I do. Despite my lack of regularly posts, I really do. I think there is a lot of benefit in reflection and sharing is caring.
2 -  I learn some of my best stuff through reading educator blogs (latest favorite blog - http://renovatedlearning.com/). I'm so excited to be a part of something like this and have meaningful discussion over some great topics.

This week's topic is "essential education". The way I decided to approach this was taking a step back and asking myself, As a parent and a member of society, what do I absolutely NEED today's students to know in order to survive (and possibly succeed) in today's society?

In my opinion, it's the "life" skills that are essential. They are things that aren't necessarily taught, but are experienced. Some things that come to mind:

  • Communication and social skills
  • Problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Time management
  • Ability to work with others and independently
  • Emotional intelligence
After identifying what I thought to be the "essential" education, I thought about the curriculum at my middle school. While the things I listed above aren't explicitly stated in the curriculum, I think that they are skills that should be embedded in every content area, at every grade level, in every assignment or project. I feel like many teachers do this already without explicitly trying, but maybe that should change. Maybe we should be trying? I am a member of our school's Academic Support Team. This team meets with teams on a weekly basis to identify common academic needs occurring within the team and then identify resources and tools to support those identified needs. In the first few weeks of attending these meetings, its overwhelmingly clear that our students are lacking some basic student skills. Particularly time management and problem solving. As we are looking at ways to address this, I'm finding it challenging to "teach" time management or "teach" decision making skills. 

So here is my question to the group - how do you teach those skills if students are lacking in those areas? While I stated that I felt they were skills that needed to be embedded rather than a standalone lesson (which I feel wouldn't be too beneficial), what do you do with the students that haven't grasped those skills yet? It's not like math where you can simply recover adding fractions if the student didn't get it the first time.