According to the 2017 PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, Americans overwhelmingly want schools to teach children non-academic skills, like how to be cooperative, respectful of others and persistent problem-solvers – placing more importance on that type of learning than even on how students perform on standardized tests.
A strong academic record is certainly important, but it’s been my experience that academic record is not the only indicator of our students’ future success. Employers have also found out that personal traits may be more important than academic record. The traits that seem to be the secret to career success are:
- Attitude – Having a positive can-do approach to everything. Confidence can be tough for students especially after a rough semester or a transition from one level to another.
- Teamwork – Being able to work with others and feeling comfortable entrusting others to perform as they should. (This is tough for some of our top students especially as it relates to our CPM Mathematics program.)
- Communication Skills – This is the ability to connect with others in a variety of situations. Surprisingly it’s not so much the ability to write or give presentations, but having a genuine ability to relate to others. In a day of electronic technologies, our students have limited appreciation of what real human communications is all about.
- Work Ethic – This is the ability and discipline to put forth effort to achieve. This is something that all of our students have been developing.
- Problem Solving Skills – Students are getting a heavy dose of math and science, but problem solving skills relate more to the ability to see problems where others don’t, to deal with ambiguous information, to formulate an analysis approach, and to use the analysis to arrive at a decision. A lot of problem solving is based on intuition and judgment. Students can have this skill but may not perceive themselves to be strong in math.
- Consistency – Consistent performance is valued more than bursts of outstanding performance and occasional lapses of performance.
- Continuous Learning – Students need to have a passion for developing themselves outside of what they are being taught. Every great leader that I’ve known has a continuing desire to learn.
- Supporting Others – Success in any endeavor is rarely a singular activity. Students need to help each other and be willing to seek out help from others.
I hope that you will see our teachers have purposely embedded opportunities for students to develop these traits as your student goes through our schools. These traits don’t develop organically. Students, teachers and families need to be conscious of a need to develop these traits and take advantage of the opportunities provided to do so.
-Trent Bowers, Superintendent