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.