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Develop Soft Skills, Now More Than Ever.

As we move back into school there are many things we are now taking precautions with - wearing masks, social distancing and learning to engage in the “new normal”. We should be actively incorporating interpersonal people skills, the soft skills, into our teaching and learning activities.

Effective verbal and written communication. Being able to express, explain and articulate yourself from a verbal and written point of view. Teaching learners to communicate online via video conference, being able to express their views clearly and accurately, both written and orally.

Be a good listener. Actively listening and taking note of what the other people or person is saying. Responding and engaging to the information they have heard in a meaningful manner.

Body language, even on a conference call, being engaged and attentive, not fiddling around, texting or on your phone while on a call. With social distancing, using body language to express your views, even though you can’t touch the person. When wearing a mask, over exaggerating facial expressions so people can read your eyes.

Cooperative team player, ensuring you are doing the tasks assigned to you. Positively engaged in participating in the team tasks, commenting and previewing inputs on a collaborative document. Not just lurking on the fridges, but participating with interest and involvement.

Build self-confidence, be confident to express and air your views. When expressing an opinion, ensure you have information and knowledge to substantiate your reply. Encourage learners to be confident and express themselves.

Accepting feedback, incorporating peer-reviews or evaluations of products, builds the ability by learners to provide and accept feedback in a positive manner. Being able to reflect on what was said and applying the relevant comments to self-correction, improvement of work or self-growth may not always be easy. If we teach learners to see the feedback as not an attack on the person’s character, but rather assistance to improve the work being done. Learning how to give and receive feedback by learners is a valuable skill.

Building in problem-solving tasks is vital in assisting learners to adjust and cope in the ever changing world. Asking higher order thinking questions, and not just remaining in the knowledge and recall base is imperative.

Incorporating creativity in all subjects, encouraging creative thinking and individuality is also a beneficial skill learners need for future growth and learning. As teachers think of spaces where you may not have thought of including creativity before, for example using spreadsheets to create art with maths statements. Designing a travel experience as a social science, geography or history task, on a digital map with pinpoints and animated images. Creating videos as a project to drive awareness of a topic in Life Skills or Life Orientation. Inspire creativity in all learners.

Teach children to be adaptable and flexible. Changes to routines and methods of completing tasks, assist in teaching adaptability, and coping with change. Traditionally schools have been very rigid in function, unchanging timetables and adjustments seldom occur. Inflexibility is not a modern skill learners need, they need to be able to adapt and thrive. Covid experiences might be used to really grow learners’ abilities to be adaptable and flexible.

Motivate your students to develop their soft skills as they interact with others. Inspiring your students to flourish, to be themselves and to succeed in the world of the future.

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