Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Soft Skills: Networking

The folks in my department where I teach talk a lot about soft skills. We keep asking, how do we give kids some of those abilities needed to be successful beyond their academics? Things like how to interview for a job, workplace behavior and interacting successfully with your employer. This article by Chris Lehmann called Networking and Teaching brought up some of the same points we throw around in our department meetings.

He talks about his lack of skills in working a room and I am reminded of how I used to be involved with some Geography curriculum development in our state. I had to attend gatherings made up of teachers, business people and government representatives. I was awful at working a room. Usually ended up talking with another teacher. If getting legislation passed was based on how well I could work room, we'd still be teaching that the world is flat.

Our department started throwing around the idea of a class to help students create better presentations using Powerpoint and maybe expanding the scope to include professional networking. Our DECA and FBLA students seem to gather a lot of these abilities from their classes and the competitions they attend. We often have them chair meetings with the public and they help run school assemblies. I know I wouldn't have been able to do that when I was 16. Public speaking was torture for me back then. So much so, that friends and family were somewhat shocked to hear I was going into teaching. Goes to show that we can change. We can learn.

[Image: Flickr: "Trademark 101 for Small Business at Network Solutions": Uploaded on September 18, 2008 by shashiBellamkonda: http://www.flickr.com/photos/drbeachvacation/2867858263/]

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