On September 23rd, we had our first design session with 4th through 6th grade educators from Kent, Muskegon, and Ottawa Counties at Steelcase's Innovation Center in Grand Rapids. Participating educators heard from employees at Steelcase about the skill of Responsibility and how it was applied and valued within their work, reflected on how they worked with students around the skill of Responsibility, and designed a common practice that they will be implementing within their classrooms between the 23rd and the next design session which will take place toward the beginning of 2020. To learn more about the practice that the educators designed and will be testing, click here or visit the Responsibility page within the 4th - 6th grade section of "Our Work".
Gill Industries, a manufacturing and design company that does work with clients ranging from Volkswagen to Lear, welcomed our team to their headquarters on Thursday, July 30th in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Based upon the feedback that we received from Progressive AE on July 11th, our team calibrated what proficiency would look like for each of the skills within the Employability Skills Framework. As with the session at Progressive AE on the 11th, we invited employees from Gill Industries to respond to our work by letting us know what they "liked" (Where did they think we hit the nail on the head?), "wondered" (What criteria might we need to change, adjust, etc. to better align with the world of work?), and "had" (What they recommend or know of, whether that be a resource, a connection, a person to talk to, etc?)
Based upon the myriad of sticky-notes that they wrote for us (as can be seen in the picture above), along with the group discussion that followed, we made numerous adjustments to how we are thinking about "proficiency" for students in each of the Employability Skills. In particular, here are some insights that Gill Industries helped solidify for us:
Progressive AE, an architectural design company that does work with clients throughout the country, graciously hosted our team on Thursday, July 11th at their office in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In the morning, our team calibrated what we thought students should "know", "do", "say", and "think" related to each of the skills within the Employability Skills Framework. Afterward, we invited employees from Progressive AE to respond to our work by letting us know what they "liked" (Where did they think we hit the nail on the head?), "wondered" (What criteria might we need to change, adjust, etc. to better align with the world of work?), and "had" (What they recommend or know of, whether that be a resource, a connection, a person to talk to, etc?)
Based upon the dozens and dozens of sticky-notes that they wrote for us, along with the group discussion that followed, we made numerous adjustments to how we are thinking about "proficiency" for students in each of the Employability Skills. In particular, here are some insights that Progressive AE helped solidify for us:
Learning from Failure
At the core of many of the Employability Skills, including Adaptability, Achievement, and Reasoning, is the idea of "learning from failure". While not everything will go exactly as planned, 100% of the time, each and every time students can reflect on their experience and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the skill and what they could do differently (if anything) in the future.
Diversity and Inclusivity
Also central to many of the Employability Skills is the idea that diversity and inclusivity of people, ideas, thoughts, perspectives, etc., makes us all stronger. Through the learning of skills such as Teamwork, Reasoning, and Adaptability, students should have the opportunity to interact with, consider, and appreciate the thoughts and ideas of individuals that may have a different background and perspective than their own.
Honoring the Whole Child
At many times during the session, employees from Progressive AE underscored that these skills are learned and reinforced in areas outside of school, such as on the sports field, as much or more than they are learned within a school context. From Progressive AE's perspective, the important thing was not so much where the student learned these skills, but that they gained proficiency in them and could articulate times when they were able to successfully (or maybe not so successfully) utilize them to achieve a goal.
After a year of conducting background research related to the Employability Skills Framework and empathy work around how and where the skills are most naturally taught within the K-12 system, the team is hard at work developing draft proficiency scales and assessments for each of the Employability Skills. These resources will most and likely be posted in early to mid-August within the skill pages that can be found within the "Community" section of the site.