Guest post by Nicole Dissinger
We learn so much during our years in school. We learn a variety of concepts from mathematics to writing, visual art, and science. When we think back on all that learning, how much of that has transferred to our everyday lives?
As a teacher I often think, what skills are my students taking with them into their daily lives? Do they use those communication skills we practiced when they are having an issue on the playground? Will they be able to transfer and apply their self-management skills between the science activity into their independent math activities?
Over my years of teaching, I’ve developed a clear understanding of the importance of teaching skills. I’ve learned that providing students opportunities to learn and practice skills is more valuable than just teaching them content. Communication, thinking, self-management, social, and research are some of the skills that students wil need tol use when when thinking critically and making decisions in order to solve problems.
A common belief arises from both my experience as a teacher and from experiences of other teachers around the world: these skills are essential in students becoming independent and responsible learners. So how do we shift our teaching practice to reflect our beliefs?
What do we want our students to be able to do? Simply understand place value and construct a proper sentence? Sure these are important skills, but these aren’t skills that apply to all aspects of their lives. Let’s think bigger. Do we believe that clear communication is important? Do we value clarity in expectations? Do we value using our time and space efficiently? Do we believe that relationships are a priority? If our answers are yes, we need to teach skills that translate from school life to daily life. These values guide the learning and classroom environment and teachers who model these values will see them reflected in their students.