Much of what we do as educators is wrapped up in quantifiable, measurable hard skills, like teaching course material. But the majority of what humanizes us and makes us great employees as adults is our soft-skill repertoire.
What are soft skills?
Unattainable by AI, the soft skills of life are things like cultural etiquette, interpersonal communication, nonverbal communication, and the manifestation of leadership skills. Research shows that 93% of employers consider soft skills as crucial as, or even more so than, hard skills like technical knowledge.
What are some examples of soft skills?
Personal and subjective, each person’s handling of their own soft skills will be different, but there are general rules of etiquette that can be employed. Interaction with others is at the core of each soft skill, usually yielding a sentiment from the people involved.
Some examples of soft skills include accountability, adaptability, communication, creativity, engagement, emotional intelligence, humility, leadership, negotiation, resilience, responsibility, stress management, time management, and teamwork, among others.
Unfortunately in the middle and higher grades, we sometimes don’t incorporate enough soft skills training into our day-to-day lessons. We even assume soft skills are already taught at the elementary school level. Knowing how to teach them can be tricky, but is absolutely essential in today’s modern world.
How can I incorporate soft skills into my jam-packed curriculum?
Teachers can equip students for success by integrating vital soft skills into their lessons and objectives. Using engaging, age-suitable activities will help students reflect on their soft skills growth.
Here are a few.
Group projects teach leadership and communication skills. Before starting a group project, you can include a small lesson on time management, showing them how to divide the goals into manageable tasks and how to assign them to each person. You may include a quick lesson on teamwork and leadership, helping them each elect a role to play in the group, such as timekeeper, editor, etc. You could discuss the responsibilities each member plays in the group and how they are all accountable to one another.
Mock interviews help build confidence. Boost students' confidence and address stage fright by conducting mock interviews. When done in one-on-one or small group settings, this approach promotes not only peer-to-peer understanding but also fosters active listening and communication skills.
Taking notes is also a great opportunity for self-reflection. Whether using pen and paper or digital tools, taking notes and reflecting can help students identify their strengths, learn from mistakes, and link classroom lessons to real-world scenarios.
Through reflection, students can connect lessons to real-life, enhancing their understanding and memory retention.
Soft Skills: The Edge AI Can't Replicate
While hard skills are often emphasized in education, it's the soft skills—like interpersonal communication, leadership, and adaptability—that truly set students apart in the professional world. It's important educators integrate methods like group projects, mock interviews, and reflective practices to instill these skills.
Doing so will help better prepare students for real-world challenges and successful careers.