Most recently my teen-aged daughter got her first part time job. Although this is an entry level position (her very first step into the world of work), I was amazed at how complicated the whole process was. Two things stood out to me as she navigated her way through the application and interview process. Firstly, I was surprised at the depth of knowledge, skills and attitudes that she was expected to possess in order to be considered for her position. Secondly, I was amazed at the process itself, which was highly digital and time consuming. She literally had to answer hundreds of behavioural questions that would reflect her ability to problem solve, make quick decisions, work collaboratively, be flexible, learn in a fast paced environment, manage her time and so on. This was a far cry from the application and interview process that I went through in my youth when I applied for my first job many years ago.
As with many of my children’s experiences, I tend to view them through my “teacher’s eyes” and this new development in my daughter’s life was no different. Looking over her shoulder as she navigated her way through the digital process of completing her applications, uploading her resume and working through the behavioral questionnaires, many questions came to mind:
- What skills and attitudes are missing in my daughter’s development?
- Are the areas where my daughter needs to improve her development of work knowledge, attitude and skill reflective of those in other youth?
- How do we as a school system effectively prepare our students for their future employment?
- How can I use my daughter’s experiences to help me as a Learning Coach to support teachers in moving their practice forward, so that they are supporting students to effectively prepare for their future?
My daughter is what I would consider a 21st Century Learner and her most recent experience into the world of work is confirmation for me that there is most definitely a shift happening in what employers are expecting, even from their most junior employees. This is also reflective of the transformation that is happening in Education today. With the most recent changes brought about by the Ministerial Order, we are moving away from a content focused curriculum, to focus being placed on using the content to teach the Cross Curricular Competencies. The 10 Cross Curricular Competencies focus on supporting Alberta’s students in becoming engaged thinkers, ethical citizens with an entrepreneurial spirit. They are an “interrelated set of attitudes, skills and knowledge that students will be able to draw upon and apply to a particular context for successful learning and living.” The Competencies include:
- Know how to learn
- Think critically
- Identify and solve complex problems
- Manage information
- Create opportunities
- Apply multiple literacies
- Demonstrate good communication skills
- Demonstrate global and cultural understanding
- Identify and apply career and life skills
When I think back to the behavioral questionnaires that my daughter had to answer in order to even be considered for an interview, it is obvious to me that she had to draw upon her own development of the attitudes, knowledge and skills that closely relate to the competencies in the Ministerial Order. These employers wanted to know:
- If she did know how to learn
- If she was able to manage information in a fast paced, sometimes stressful environment
- If she could work as part of a team and communicate effectively, not only in a digital format, but in person as well, and so on.
When I view the Cross Curricular Competencies in light of my daughter’s work experiences and her future career expectations, I honestly believe that we are on the right track as we shift towards a competency focused approach to teaching and learning. In light of this, I have many more questions that I ask myself as a Learning Coach:
- How do I support this shift?
- How do I support teachers in not only deepening their understanding of the Cross Curricular Competencies, but in shifting their focus from teaching content, to using the content to teach the competencies?
- How do I support teachers in designing authentic and engaging competency focused experiences in order to ensure optimal learning?
Right now I feel like I have many more questions than answers and many of these questions are complex and will keep me busy for a while; but I am excited to work through this process collaboratively with my not only my Learning Coach Cohort, but my teaching colleagues as well. I am also glad to have my daughter’s experiences as a lens to look through when working through this process.