You’ve heard the term “soft skill” before but might still be curious as what it means. Hard skills are the skills we gain through education, training programs, certifications, and on-the-job training. Soft skills are interpersonal or “people” skills and are often much harder to define and evaluate. However, more and more schools are learning the value of soft skills for their students. In fact, we already know that colleges and employers expect more soft skills in conjunction with academic knowledge.
Colleges and employers want to know a lot about your students’ academic achievements sure, but they also want to know a lot of other things too. Both groups want to know how well your students work as a team, whether or not they possess integrity, if they’re courteous, adaptable, and capable of problem-solving. Employers will ask questions about emotional intelligence and work ethic too. Many might even argue that these are equally important as your students’ academic knowledge! After all, in daily life you’ll often be asked to problem solve, communicate, and be adaptable to changes as they’re happening.
Unfortunately, soft skills aren’t often “taught” explicitly on school campuses. One way to remedy this is through the development of a strong social and emotional learning curriculum. Social emotional learning lessons help your students learn and build skills like self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making, social awareness, and relationship management. You might teach mini-lessons on the concept of empathy, respect, or collaboration through videos and student-led scenarios. Or you might create projects that help your students manage their time and self effectively. Whatever the lesson, the goal is to give your students direct and explicit chances to practice and learn these valuable soft-skills.
As your students practice these skills they’ll understand how critical these concepts are to their daily lives. The end result is a classroom of students who have a strong combination of soft and hard skills. Your students will feel just as confident talking about US History as they are working in small teams and empathizing with their friends. This combination of skills will be invaluable to your students as they apply for colleges, jobs, or just simply build relationships with others.