[Teaching Unpacked] Critical Skills: The Essential Learning Ingredient

Over the years, many of our experienced staff have found that academic learning may not translate to something students can relate to or use in a practical sense. There is often a gap between the theory and the actual application of lessons in a real-world setting. Many factors that prevent students from learning are out of our control. Often, they are eager to interact and take part, but their lack of skills and ability to connect concepts to reality becomes an impediment.

Our lesson plans should consider this challenge to ensure we are effective educators. We must frame our lessons in a way that helps bridge this gap that so many students struggle to overcome. Through effective teacher prep, we can build engaging and interactive lessons that help students solve real-world problems. 

Developing Necessary Skills And Disposition

Graduating students often crave to learn skills they can use in practical settings, such as their future workplaces. Some of the skills they seek include leadership, communication, and creative thinking. They also want to learn how to collaborate, to own quality work, and to be able to make critical decisions. They want to have the skills and qualities that constitute their ideal selves and maximize their full potential.

There are four pillars to help develop these necessary skills and dispositions. These pillars, when applied, produce powerful results. They are:

  1. Collaborative Learning Community
  2. Standards-Based Learning
  3. Experiential Learning
  4. Problem-Based Learning

You can facilitate these learning forms in a classroom environment through several techniques:

  • Framing: Creating a hypothetical situation that immerses students. It helps them see themselves in a way that cultivates those necessary skills and dispositions. They can then come back and evaluate through discussions.
  • Embedding: Insert another language, requirement, or problem within their current one. This helps develop specific skills like organization and problem-solving. Usually, you embed something that helps stimulate the idea that there are different answers to a single problem.

The best thing about these activities is that they help students hone many skills, not just the ones we target. The goal is to help the students realize that they can act independently.

As teachers, we create bridges to help students cross. Once we help them cross those bridges, we collapse the bridge and encourage them to build their own.

Experiential Learning

Experience is one of the most impactful teachers anyone can have, but it requires everyone’s collaboration. We can create an environment of experiential learning by placing everything within context. 

The teacher designs and coaches the student during problem-solving, providing feedback. In the meantime, the student uses and applies what they learned. They engage, exhibit the skills, and see how they would perform in that situation. With the teacher’s guidance, they can see areas of improvement. They will discover their potential without any serious consequences if they fail.

There are many teaching tips to make experiential learning great. One of the best is to use a TP3 Epson Teach Pendant, a valuable tool to help frame an activity. It helps students organize and evaluate their capabilities and allows them a moment of introspection where they can have many realizations.

Developing Critical Skills in a Classroom

As teachers, we support the learning process by doing in-depth teacher prep, designing engaging lesson plans, and coaching students through each step. We give them assessments and establish a culture of critical skill learning. We help them connect the dots so that each new lesson builds upon the previous lessons.

For students, they should work as a team to emulate their real-world activities. They have to solve meaningful problems and take ownership of their learning. They must also have time to reflect and publicly exhibit what they’ve learned. In doing so, you help prepare them for their lives outside the classroom.

Visit our website for more teaching tips and ideas on how to create lessons with real-world applications.