Teaching Soft Skills

Soft skills is a term often associated with a person's Emotional Intelligence Quotient, the cluster of personality traits, social grace, communication

Teaching soft skills

Soft skills is a term often associated with a person's Emotional Intelligence Quotient, the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, managing people, leadership, etc., that characterize relationships with other people. Soft skills, also known as people skills, complement hard skills to enhance an individual's relationships, job performance and career prospects. It's often said that hard skills will get you an interview but you need soft skills to get and keep-the job.

Teaching Soft Skills

Unlike hard skills, which comprise a person's technical skill set and ability to perform certain functional tasks, soft skills are interpersonal and broadly applicable across job titles and industries. Many soft skills are tied to individuals' personalities rather than any formal training, and are thus considered more difficult to develop than hard skills. Soft skills are often described in terms of personality traits, such as optimism, integrity and a sense of humor. These skills are also defined by abilities that can be practiced, such as leadership, empathy, communication and sociability.

Interpersonal skills are sometimes also referred to as people skills or communication skills. Interpersonal skills are the skills a person uses to communicate and interact with others. They include persuasion, active listening, delegation, and leadership. The term "interpersonal skills" is used often in business contexts to refer to the measure of a person's ability to operate within business organizations through social communication and interactions. Interpersonal skills are how people relate to one another.

Why Soft Skills?

  1. Self:- An awareness of the characteristics that define the person one is and wants to become.
  2. Opportunity:- An awareness of the possibilities that exist, the demands they make and the rewards and satisfactions they offer.
  3. Aspirations:- The ability to make realistic choices and plans based on sound information and on self-opportunity alignment.
  4. Results:- The ability to review outcomes, plan and take action to implement decisions and aspirations, especially at points of transition.

Soft skills focus more on people than processes. Today's service economy and ascendance of work teams in large organizations puts a new premium on people skills and relationship-building.

Soft skills = People skills = Street Smarts

Learning Objectives

The module content is centered on students' learning and development. It seeks to motivate students by helping them to be more effective, independent and confident self-directed learners by improving their capacity to understand what they have learned, how and when they are learning, and to encourage them to monitor, reflect on, evaluate, plan and take responsibility for their own learning.

  1. The Main tasks of the Soft Skills module are to develop and enhance:
  2. Critical and reflective thinking;
  3. Self-management and self awareness skills;
  4. Communication skills, including interpretation and use of feedback;
  5. Team working and peer support strategies.

"What exactly are soft skills?" This basic question is not easy to answer, because the perception of what is a soft skill differs from context to context. A subject may be considered a soft skill in one particular area, and may be considered a hard skill in another. On top of it the understanding of what should be recognized as a soft skill varies widely. Generally, soft skills may be subdivided into three basic categories:

  1. Personal qualities
  2. Interpersonal skills
  3. Additional skills/knowledge

A List of Soft Skills

1. Leadership

Any teacher needs to be able to show their ability to lead a classroom. They need to be able to make sure that all the students are doing the task that they are required to do. A teacher needs to make sure that they have control over the students at all times. Teachers might even need to make sure that they’re leading the parents as well, especially during parent-teacher nights.

Teachers need to be able to communicate with the parents and let the parents know the direction the curriculum is going, and that the teacher has the confidence to get the students there. As teachers progress through their careers, they may also need to develop leadership skills for leading other teachers. For example, a headteacher or a principal in a school needs to be a leader for other teachers and help teach other teachers to become better educators.

2. Communication

Communication skills are also very important for teachers. Communication skills come in all shapes and sizes. Being a good communicator involves not just what we say, but a range of other aspects like how we speak, our active listening abilities, nonverbal communication cues, and the ability to adjust our message for our audience.

To have good communication skills means having the ability to communicate things clearly and making sure that the communication at the right level: 1. If you teach something that’s too difficult, the student is not going to understand it, 2. If you teach something that’s too easy, the student is going to find it a bit boring.

As a teacher, we need to be able to communicate information in a way that’s engaging exciting and at the right level for the students. In education theory, we explain this perfect zone for communication (not too hard, not too easy) as the zone of proximal development.

3. Teamwork

Teamwork skills are important for teachers. Every teacher works with other teachers to get their job done. They might work with other teachers on developing their curriculum, sharing resources, and tag-teaming on the teaching of lessons. A teacher might also be working with other teachers on things like extracurricular activities or sports. So, teachers need to work together all the time.

4. Multi-Tasking

Any teacher who spent even one day in a classroom knows that multitasking is central to the job. Imagine a teacher who is teaching one-on-one with a student in one corner of the classroom. That teacher also needs to be able to know what students in the other corner of the classroom and doing. They need to be keeping one eye on those students at all times to make sure that they’re okay. This is just one example of how a teacher always needs to be balancing a lot of different things in their mind at once, and we call this multitask.

5. Punctuality

They would have been sitting around in the classroom, scratching their chins, and wondering what was going on. Even worse, when you have a classroom of 10-year-old children, you just cannot leave them unsupervised. It’s unsafe.

Therefore, a teacher always needs to turn up on time. It is not only for the safety of the children but also for respect. With older students, for example, the teacher needs to make sure that students know that they respect the students’ time and that the teacher takes their learning seriously.

6. Patience

Sometimes we need to sit with the student and help them slowly learn something until that light bulb goes off in their head and they finally understand the concept.

The teacher will need to sit there and work with the student, helping them slowly gain confidence until they have that ‘lightbulb moment’ where they finally understand the concept. Teachers can’t rush things. They have to make sure that they’re patient with the student.

7. Creativity

A teacher needs to make sure lessons are engaging for students so that they learn something at the end of the day. If the content isn’t creatively introduced in the classroom, there’s a good chance that the students are going to be bored and disengage. They will not learn as well as if you presented it in a more engaging way.

8. Professionalism

In this situation, the teacher has a role or a responsibility to be the professional and present what they had been teaching as well as how they have been teaching in order to be accountable to the parents. They also need to be available to the parents so the parents can ask them any questions that they have.

9. Problem-Solving

One of the most common problems teachers come across is when their lesson isn’t going the way they would have hoped. At the end of some lessons, the students still don’t understand what the content.

At times like these, the teacher needs to stop and search for ways to solve their problem. They need to find out why the lesson didn’t go too well. They might need to change their teaching strategy or even the content being taught.

10. Reflectiveness

If we didn’t reflect on our teaching, we would not become better teachers over time. We need to reflect in order to identify ways to improve, avoid old mistakes, and try new things.

We even have models of reflection in education like the Gibbs model of reflective practice that help us reflect in a series of steps. Other examples of reflective teaching include keeping a teaching diary and seeking feedback from students.

Outcomes of Soft Skills Development

1. Oral Communication Skills

Students are able to communicate confidently and effectively with a range of audiences, in a variety of modes or registers and settings, including persuasion, argument and exposition, and they are able to make use of different support tools, including visual, audio-visual and technological.

2. Interpersonal Skills

Students have the skills to be able to work effectively with a range of people in a range of different contexts, including teams, where they can be effective members and, if required, leaders, including organizing team role and activities. Students are open to the ideas of others. Students are capable of listening and understanding in a range of contexts.

3. Problem Solving Skills

Students are able to identify and define problems and through the use of skills of analysis and critical evaluation plan an appropriate course of action and devise solutions. Students are able to make judgments concerning different possible solutions. They will be able to make use of creative and lateral thinking.

4. Organizational Skills

Students are able to set priorities, and anticipate potential problems or needs. They are able to set and achieve targets in relation to body study and workplace tasks. Students are able to manage their time effectively. With these soft skills you can excel as a leader. Problem solving, delegating, motivating, and team building are all much easier if you have good soft skills.

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