Refilling Our Middle Schoolers’ Toolbox

Recognizing a Lost Skill Set in 21st Century Education

Written By Samantha Wingate, World Academy

Quantifiable skills are crucial for sending students out into the world well-prepared.

However, we’d be remiss as educators to ignore a different kind of skill set that is just as important—but could be in danger of being left behind: soft skills.

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills can be tricky to test in a classroom setting, especially compared to their tangible counterparts.

Quantifiable skills, or hard skills, often fall under subjects like mathematics, science, computing, business, and engineering. They provide students with specialized training that will ultimately allow them to complete particular tasks in their chosen field.

On the other hand, soft skills teach students how to make a strong first impression, build meaningful relationships with peers, and navigate difficult situations. If hard skills are crucial in getting a student’s foot in the door of new opportunities, consider soft skills the abilities that earn them an invitation through the threshold to become valuable teammates and impactful leaders.

Developing Soft Skills in a Technological World

In a world dominated by digital communication, soft skills are challenged by our reliance on technology and by the global pandemic that has made virtual communication a larger part of our lives. When face-to-face interaction is limited, ensuring that students can practice their listening, cooperation, and communication skills becomes a complex task.

Though it might be more difficult than ever to nurture soft skills, the stressful events of the last year have also made soft skills all the more valuable, especially for their role in creating safe spaces where students are confident in their abilities to participate in classroom activities.

Approaching Interpersonal Skills in the Classroom

To ensure that soft skills remain an important part of your middle schoolers’ tool box, here are specific observations to make while supporting classroom activities:

•Listening skills: does your student need practice honing active listening skills? Is he/she able to listen and effectively respond to peers?

•Cooperation skills: can your student work effectively with others? Is he/she successful in the ability to allocate responsibilities to tackle a single project with others?

•Communication skills: how well can your student get his/her ideas across verbally? Can she/he successfully participate in activities that promote systems thinking and interconnectedness?

At World Academy, interpersonal activities that enhance our middle schoolers’ soft skills are a core part of our mission and whole child philosophy. Learn more about our approach here!

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