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7 Skills Students Will Always Need

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As educators, we constantly strive to prepare our students for the ‘real world’ that exists around them. We teach them how to read, write, and calculate. Then, of course, there are the less tangible skills we teach; such as how to work in a team, think critically, and be curious about the things they encounter each day.

We want to prepare them to lead productive and successful lives once they leave us and enter into the realm of adulthood. But what lies ahead for our students in the future? Did educators of twenty years ago know that so much of our world would be based on computers and technology now? Could they have known what skills would be needed in the job market today? Unlikely, but yet they had to do their best to prepare their students for this world anyhow. Nowadays, educators are still charged with the same complicated task – preparing students for the unknown.

Tony Wagner of Harvard University worked to uncover the 7 survival skills required for the 21st century. To accomplish this, hundreds of CEOs in business, non-profits and educational institutions were interviewed. A list of seven skills that people will need to survive and thrive in the 21st century was compiled from their answers.

We may not know exactly what lies ahead for our students in the future, but we have the advantage of knowing what skills they will need once they get there. Here are the 7 survival skills of the 21st century, along with how they may look being purposefully applied in a classroom.

Skills #1: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Preparation: Students will need to develop their skills at seeing problems from different angles and formulating their own solutions. Regardless of the field they choose to enter for their careers, the ability to think and act quickly is an indispensable tool for the future. To practice this, teachers should present students with situations in which they need to figure things out for themselves – where skills that they have already developed can be drawn upon and applied to help them figure out a problem.

The problem should ideally lend itself to multiple solutions, as we do not want to teach students that there is only one answer available, but instead that problem-solving can be a creative and personal experience. Situational problems in mathematics provide a good example of these skills at work.

Skill #2: Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence

Preparation: Understanding that not every person is born a natural leader.

However, the ability to lead others can definitely help a person to advance and become successful in their chosen career. Also, finding a job where you don’t need to be able to work closely and harmoniously with others can be quite a difficult task. To best prepare students in this area, more than just the typical teamwork is required. Instead of simply getting into a group and splitting the tasks with each other, students should instead be encouraged to take on different roles within their group for each task within the project.

Sometimes they can be the ‘manager’ and at other times they can be an ‘organizer’ or a ‘graphic designer’. There are many different roles that students can fill during a project with their peers that allows them to work with others in a more collaborative way than just breaking apart a project and then putting it back together in the end.

Skill #3: Agility and Adaptability

Preparation: If we look back at the last twenty years we can see how much has changed in the workplace and the world

Our students need to be comfortable with the idea of change and be willing to adapt to the changes around them. Teachers can create a very dynamic environment within the classroom that can help to prepare students for the future. Varying the teaching strategies we use, the setup of the classroom, the ways that learning is demonstrated by students, and even the guidelines for group work or homework can help students learn to adapt.

Have students create a storyline, for example, then surprise them with a mandatory element to incorporate, or even have them switch work and complete a task based on the preparations of another. They might grumble at first, but the skills will serve them well!

Skill #4: Initiative and Entrepreneurship

Preparation: Students need to be able to take initiative and contribute to the world. We should encourage these skills within our classrooms and our communities. Our students can be incredibly creative and interested in shaping their experience in the classroom, so we can ask them for much more than a list of classroom rules and consequences.

Let them know that you are available and willing to listen to any of their ideas about improving the classroom or school. Help them organize their ideas and put them into practice – even if an idea may fail. It can be a valuable lesson about how to analyze what went wrong and consider how to improve the idea. Students should never be afraid of trying because they are afraid of failure.

Skill #5: Effective Oral and Written Communication

Preparation: Despite advances in technology, these skills never diminish in importance. Think of a boss or manager sending you an email full of grammatical errors or presenting a new business plan while speaking too low and reading the entire presentation off a sheet of paper. What would you honestly think? Consider some of the best communicators you have seen – what makes them rise above the rest? We need to teach our students how to speak confidently and clearly.

This doesn’t come naturally, but with practice; enunciation, speed, volume, gestures, and eye-contact can all be taught and learned. The same skills that help in drama can help in oral communication. Take a moment one day to begin teaching a lesson in a very ineffective way and see how long it takes your students to ask what you’re doing… they should be able to tell you exactly what’s ‘wrong’ with your communication skills!

As for written communication, we need to continue to emphasize the rules while also teaching students how to use the technology available to them to help check their writing. The difference between formal and informal writing is quite important for students to learn and start applying.

Skill #6: Accessing and Analyzing Information

Preparation: Students have access to unimaginable amounts of information today. The Internet provides an incredible research tool that can be their best friend or worst enemy. Accessing information is easy, but accessing good information tends to be more complicated. Students need to be taught how to sift through the millions of web pages available on a topic and find what they need (and be able to trust what they find). They need to learn the difference between factual information and factual-sounding opinions.

Many students today will check ‘answer’ websites to gather information, not really thinking about how the information was written by a person who may or may not be correct or truly knowledgeable in a subject area. In the same way, a teacher can ‘think-aloud’ reading strategies, we can think-aloud Internet searching strategies. Project your screen on the board and learn about a topic with your students. Show them how to search, and how to use those ‘answer’ sites without being misled!

Skill #7: Curiosity and Imagination

Preparation: Our students come to us naturally curious about their world and wanting to explore it. Their imaginations are vast and untamed, creating endless amounts of practical and impractical things. Our task as educators has less to do with teaching them how to be curious and imaginative, and more to do with not taking that away from them. We need to continue to encourage them to develop these skills, as well as teach them how to apply them creatively and purposefully. Imagine the little boy who loves soldiers and robots, but dislikes princesses.

How do you react when he shows you his freshly-drawn picture of a soldier using a robot-inspired weapon to destroy a princess? Do you celebrate his creativity in the same way you celebrate the world-saving-robot drawn by the student next to him? Is his picture hung on the wall?

We don’t all like and appreciate the same things, so an educator must be very careful about how they nurture and develop their students’ creativity and imagination. We can teach them which things are appropriate in which situations without making them feel like their ideas are wrong or bad.

posted Mar 19, 2019 by Richard

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The classroom is a dynamic environment, bringing together students from different backgrounds with various abilities and personalities. Being an effective teacher therefore requires the implementation of creative and innovative teaching strategies in order to meet students’ individual needs.

Whether you’ve been teaching two months or twenty years, it can be difficult to know which teaching strategies will work best with your students. As a teacher there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, so here is a range of effective teaching strategies you can use to inspire your classroom practice.

1. Visualization

Bring dull academic concepts to life with visual and practical learning experiences, helping your students to understand how their schooling applies in the real-world.

Examples include using the interactive whiteboard to display photos, audio clips and videos, as well as encouraging your students to get out of their seats with classroom experiments and local field trips.

2. Cooperative learning

Encourage students of mixed abilities to work together by promoting small group or whole class activities.

Through verbally expressing their ideas and responding to others your students will develop their self-confidence, as well as enhance their communication and critical thinking skills which are vital throughout life.

Solving mathematical puzzlesconducting scientific experiments and acting out short drama sketches are just a few examples of how cooperative learning can be incorporated into classroom lessons.

3. Inquiry-based instruction

Pose thought-provoking questions which inspire your students to think for themselves and become more independent learners.

Encouraging students to ask questions and investigate their own ideas helps improve their problem-solving skills as well as gain a deeper understanding of academic concepts. Both of which are important life skills.

Inquiries can be science or math-based such as ‘why does my shadow change size?’ or ‘is the sum of two odd numbers always an even number?’. However, they can also be subjective and encourage students to express their unique views, e.g. ‘do poems have to rhyme?’ or ‘should all students wear uniform?’.

4. Differentiation

Differentiate your teaching by allocating tasks based on students’ abilities, to ensure no one gets left behind.

Assigning classroom activities according to students’ unique learning needs means individuals with higher academic capabilities are stretched and those who are struggling get the appropriate support.

This can involve handing out worksheets that vary in complexity to different groups of students, or setting up a range of work stations around the classroom which contain an assortment of tasks for students to choose from.

Moreover, using an educational tool such as Quizalize can save you hours of time because it automatically groups your students for you, so you can easily identify individual and whole class learning gaps (click here to find out more).

5. Technology in the classroom

Incorporating technology into your teaching is a great way to actively engage your students, especially as digital media surrounds young people in the 21st century.

Interactive whiteboards or mobile devices can be used to display images and videos, which helps students visualize new academic concepts. Learning can become more interactive when technology is used as students can physically engage during lessons as well as instantly research their ideas, which develops autonomy.

Mobile devices, such as iPads and/or tablets, can be used in the classroom for students to record resultstake photos/videos  or simply as a behaviour management technique. Plus, incorporating educational programmes such as Quizalize into your lesson plans is also a great way to make formative assessments fun and engaging.

6. Behaviour management

Implementing an effective behaviour management strategy is crucial to gain your students respect and ensure students have an equal chance of reaching their full potential.

Noisy, disruptive classrooms do no encourage a productive learning environment, therefore developing an atmosphere of mutual respect through a combination of discipline and reward can be beneficial for both you and your students.

Examples include fun and interactive reward charts for younger students, where individuals move up or down based on behaviour with the top student receiving a prize at the end of the week. ‘Golden time’ can also work for students of all ages, with a choice of various activities such as games or no homework in reward for their hard work.

7. Professional development

Engaging in regular professional development programmes is a great way to enhance teaching and learning in your classroom.

With educational policies constantly changing it is extremely useful to attend events where you can gain inspiration from other teachers and academics. It’s also a great excuse to get out of the classroom and work alongside other teachers just like you!

Sessions can include learning about new educational technologiesonline safety training, advice on how to use your teaching assistant(s) and much more.

Being an effective teacher is a challenge because every student is unique, however, by using a combination of teaching strategies you can address students’ varying learning styles and academic capabilities as well as make your classroom a dynamic and motivational environment for students.

in General
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Global Citizenship is described as the rights and responsibilities which come with being a member of a global community and whose actions support the community’s purpose and values.

These rights, responsibilities and values are consistent with the concept of humanity.

In this area, it is vital for the institutions to understand why teaching global citizenship in the classroom is a critical component of 21st Century education. The TEDx Talk mentioned below highlights such in great detail.

First Thing FirstPreparing Teachers for Global Citizenship Education

We all know the power of education has no boundary. Through education, one gains knowledge and skills to enhance our lives and environment. Education has the power to mould an individual’s thinking process and assist them to act towards building a more just, peaceful, tolerant and inclusive society.

Going by what, the Incheon Declaration on Education 2030 lay upon, institutions are responsible to not only provide foundational literacy, numeracy and technological skills to students but develop the skills, values and attitudes which enable citizens to lead healthy and fulfilled lives. Education should not be reduced to the production of skilled workers. It must empower students to make informed decisions and respond to local as well global challenges through meaningful education.

Thus, it clearly explains why we say, the first thing institutions need to do is prepare teachers for global citizenship education. The United Nations had launched the Global Education First Initiative in 2012. Research studies under this program identified the lack of teacher’s capacity as a major barrier to Global Citizenship Education. Thus, the global organization is working towards empowering the teachers with knowledge on this subject. This will lead educators nurture the same skills and relevant knowledge about global citizenship to their students.

3 Action Steps for Educators to Teach Global Citizenship

There is no prescribed way to help the students achieve global citizenship. However, what educators can do in this case is plan discussion sessions and activities which help students acquire knowledge and think upon the global issues with greater insight.

1. Leveraging Technology to Connect Students with the Rest of the World

Due to technology advancement, teachers have good number of options to use digital tools and projects that can connect students to the world in ways that promote a mind-set of taking action and applied learning. Many of these can even be learned together with students. Through technology, students can even understand what’s going on in the world as well as collaborate with other students and organizations abroad to become digitally connected.

Some of the schools and projects that aim at offering students with global exposure are- Adobe Youth VoicesGlobal Nomads GroupGlobalSchoolNet.orgReach the World, Skype in the Classroom and others. Schools may connect with these schools and projects to connect the class.

Further there are platforms such like Creatubbles which help students upload as well as share projects, invite others to join in and connect with collaborators from all around the world. This platform gives students the option to discover and be inspired by activities and creations which students abroad are sharing.

2. Using Human Rights Issues as a Platform for Discussion

One of the core tenets of global citizenship education is to encourage and help students make professional commitments to human rights literacy (knowledge), empathy (concern) and responsibility (action).

Students of all ages, socio-economic backgrounds or geographical locations can find human rights relatable on some scale. It is a great starting point to spark discussion and awareness. Educator and UNESCO Delegate for Education, Mareike Hachemer is on a mission to connect education and the global goals. One of the core principles which she enthusiastically backs is education that fosters intercultural competencies and active citizenship.

With discussion as a means, students’ curiosity towards social developmental issues can be ignited. Eventually, teachers can also start working upon utilizing the global goals as a basis for students to start becoming global citizens and also involve them into working upon projects which relate to human rights topics.

3. Making Use of Learn-Think-Act Process to Encourage Global Citizenship

The maxim of Oxfam’s learn-think-act works great for the teachers to introduce global citizenship to their students:

By ‘Learn’ pathway, students will be able to explore the issue, process information and consider it from various perspectives. While exploring, they will also try to understand the underlying causes and consequences of the issue.

Adopting the ‘Think’ pathway, students will exercise their critical thinking ability to bring forth ideas through which the issue can be resolved, relate such to values, think it from global perspective and figure out the nature of power and action.

The ‘Act’ pathway is most crucial component. It allows students to make use of their productive thinking to resolve issues of global concern. Further, through act pathway, students learn to take ownership of their steps and simultaneously also get an opportunity to work on the collective footsteps of the team to resolve any issue.

If this exercise of Learn-Think-Act is routinely practiced, it will soon become a second nature of students- finally resulting to a class of amazing, young global citizens.


Thus, institutions have to understand that the initial motivation concerning global citizenship has to come from internal commitment and not from external pressure. As responsible professionals and well-wishers of the society, educators indeed have a significant responsibility to make students understand the complexity and the interrelated place in the world to help them become global citizens. These citizens are going to be the change makers of the society so building their skill sets in that direction is not only necessary but a mandatory aspect of meaningful education.