By Esther Blair
Our job as educators is to teach students skills that will prepare them for their future. But what does that look like in today’s world? Our world has shifted drastically in technical information and is continuing to change at an extremely fast rate.
According to Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod from their viral video Shift Happens, “The amount of new technical information is doubling every two years. For students starting a four-year technical college degree, this means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study.”
The U.S. Department of Labor stated that the top ten in-demand jobs in 2010 didn’t even exist in 2004, and that learners will have 10-14 jobs by the age of 38. A number of students in school today will end up in jobs that haven’t yet been invented.
This isn’t meant to intimidate teachers when it comes to preparing their students. Instead, it should inspire educators to teach their students skills that can transcend job titles and roles. We might not know what the future holds or what it will look like for our students, but we can give them the confidence and skills they need to succeed regardless of the jobs at hand.
Below we provide some tips for preparing students for their future:
Teach digital literacy skills
Technology has become pervasive in the classroom as well as the workplace, and technology skills are essential for all students. In order to be successful, digital literacy skills are necessary, and it falls on educators to teach students these skills. Familiarize students with technology and incorporate it into their everyday lessons and assignments. In the same way you use technology, teach it to them.
Help students learn their strengths
Everyone is born with different strengths — educators can help students recognize these and build on them. While the current testing system might not be doing the best job in assessing each students’ individuality, it is the teacher’s job to understand their students and what makes them unique. Helping students understand their interests and strengths gives them a head start and confidence in their future workforce endeavors.
Collaboration and tolerance
The specific jobs of the future might not yet be invented, but there is a big guarantee that it will involve collaboration on a global scale. Our world is more connected than ever, and it shapes how we work. Students need to be prepared to work well with others. Students today need open discussions and experiences that help them understand people of other cultures.
Students have access to huge amounts of information today. The Internet can be an incredibly helpful tool, or it can be their pitfall. While accessing information is easy, knowing the difference between what is good information and what is not is tricky. Teachers can help students learn the difference between factual information and opinions. By asking students to look through websites to gather information, teachers can guide them and teach them reading strategies so they are not being misled.
Communication is key
Communication skills will always be necessary in every facet of life. When it comes to the workforce, teachers can help their students by teaching them how to communicate in a way that will set them up for success in the future. Teaching students how to write an email, how to give a pitch or presentation, how to network, how to introduce themselves properly, how to use social media in a way that represents them well, these are all important skills that can be incorporated in the classroom.
How to fail well
Failure is a part of life. Most students today are familiar with instant gratification and being rewarded for effort, but the “real world” isn’t so gracious. There are disappointments and there are set-backs, but these are learning curves that are valuable to our lives if we choose to see it that way. Help them understand failure and instead of fearing the worst, teach them to use it to their advantage.
“Why does this matter?” and “When am I going to use this again?” are questions that teachers regularly hear. Instead of ignoring such questions or giving a vague answer, take the time to explain why the material does matter and how it will help them in the future. Make the connection in your lesson plans so that it goes beyond memorization for a short-term goal such as an exam but can become a valuable part of their education for the future. Being future-focused helps students see that life doesn’t start after graduation, but everything they are doing now can contribute to their future success.
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