Preparing Students for a World Dealing with Unprecedented Change
By David R. Ellefson, Counselor, Hutchinson High School
Minnesota weather is continually teaching us about how quickly things can change. It seems like just yesterday [Oct. 9th] it was 80 degrees, which was followed up with several inches of snow [Oct. 20th] Yikes! Along with the weather; life, the job market, and Covid 19 all bring change to people. In light of these changes, we need to think about how to best prepare students for the changes in work and life. Our current educational model is actually helping to teach and reinforce the skills needed for the 21st century. First, students need to have the ability to adapt. Dr. David Conley, a national leader in college and career readiness, states that students need to develop self-knowledge and self-management. We must equip students for whatever they may encounter. Self-knowledge is the ability for a person to know themself well enough to make intelligent decisions about what they want to be or become. Students must know what they are learning, how they will learn it, and why they need to know it. This is why we give students several opportunities to take low stakes assessments to help them reflect on these things at the high school level. Students have the opportunity to discover their learning styles, multiple intelligences, strengths, interests, and others. Students need to seek out opportunities to help build their self-knowledge. This may be done through getting involved in activities, taking classes that stretch their knowledge base, and participating in internship or mentoring opportunities.
Self-management is the gear that drives the whole process of preparing students for a changing world. Self-management is organized through goal-driven learning. Students, along with all of us, need to have active goals in our life. We encourage parents to help their child create and work to accomplish goals in their academic and personal life. As we go through the school year students may change between hybrid, distant, or in-person learning. No matter how students attend school, if your child has self-knowledge and self-management, the student will more likely be able to bounce from one model to another. If a student struggles it means they must increase their self-knowledge and set goals for success. Your child’s school counselor will be able to help your child improve in these areas.
Dr. Conley concludes that students who are adaptable and self-empowered will be able to navigate and succeed in a world that is changing at an unprecedented rate.
In closing, I would like to share some lessons Brian Creasman learned so far this year. Brian is the Kentucky 2020 Superintendent of the Year. The conclusions he has drawn from his district can be appreciated by all of us. His conclusions include the importance of putting people first and being flexible. Next, to find at least 20 minutes each day to focus on you by taking a walk, reading a book, listening to music, journaling, or by rediscovering the great outdoors. Even with the snow and colder weather, get out and get sunshine whenever possible since we need vitamin D. Finally, everyone must embrace the moment.