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22 September 2023

5 ways to enhance career readiness skills (without changing your lesson objectives)

Katherine Woollett

Campaigns Marketing Manager, Digital Theatre+

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Yes, we know! We know that teaching students college and career readiness skills is important for students, but do you know what else is? Their ongoing education.

So, how can we teach the critical skills needed to succeed in today's rapidly changing workforce in our everyday lessons? Let's start with the basics...

What is career readiness?

Indeed Career Guide defines career readiness as "the process of preparing to enter the workforce. When it comes to preparing students, it's all about making sure they have the key skills they need to be successful in their careers. While this may seem obvious, there are so many examples of these skills (everything from leadership to financial literacy) that it can be hard to know which ones to focus on, let alone how to incorporate them into your own lessons without straying from your lesson objectives. 

To make things a little easier, we have narrowed down the ever-growing list to the most important skills. With hints and tips on how to teach these skills in your English or Drama classes.

1. Communication skills

Communication is at the top of the list not just because it is vital in the 21st century workplace. Sure, that's true. The more connected the world becomes, the more types of people your students will need to learn to communicate with (and in many different ways). This generation of students has a reputation for being poor communicators, which may not be true, but it is a stigma they will need to break in order to succeed in their careers. 

But the real reason it comes out on top is because it is probably the skill that lends itself most obviously to a theatre or English classroom. Specifically, through speaking and listening activities. Since you have already spent time in the classroom honing these skills, you are also demonstrating that you are teaching career readiness skills. 

The reason we have an 11-video e-Learning series dedicated to supporting the development of speaking and listening skills (including one-on-one conversations, presentations, and group discussions) is because they are essential for doing well in school and beyond. If you're not a Digital Theatre+ customer, this free guide to improving students' speaking and listening skills is full of ideas you can use in your classroom.

2. Critical thinking skills

It is no secret that at Digital Theatre+ we really recognize the importance of developing critical thinking skills. If you have missed it, you can catch our webinar, Let’s Get Critical: Using Performance to Teach Critical Thinking in Your Classroom, completely free (whether you’re a customer or not. In our blog, 5 reasons why critical thinking is THE most important skill for students, “because it is required after students leave school” was our number one choice. And for good reason. In the growing age of AI, the ability to think critically is what will set us apart from computers, making it one of the most desirable skills for employers and colleges alike.

As for incorporating critical thinking into your classroom, there are so many ways listed in the webinar (which is also a great professional development opportunity), and one of our favorites is character analysis. Whether you teach English or Drama, character analysis is an integral part of your lessons, but it's also a fantastic way to teach critical thinking skills. Your students will really dive into a character, looking at their history, circumstances, family and friends, actions, and lines. By asking the "who what where why" questions and really encouraging your students to get into the mindset of the character, your students will not only better understand the characters' motives (and how that affects the story), but they will also be practicing one of the most important career readiness skills.

3. Collaboration and teamwork skills

Teamwork is a cornerstone of success in the workplace (and in many courses, in college!). 

While group work probably plays a big role in many of your classes (and you are already killing it at teaching collaboration skills), one way to make sure there is always a taste of teamwork in your classroom is to use Class Starters. Designed as a quick, 5-minute activity, Class Starters (or Bell Ringers as you may know them) not only get your students focused, engaged, and ready to learn, but can also be an excellent way to give your students a daily practice in collaboration skills, helping to normalize (and improve) working with others. In our guide to designing effective classroom starters, you will find examples of how to easily combine activities that transition students into your planned lesson with opportunities for students to work together.

4. Independent working 

Independent work is a very loaded skill. For students to become successful independent workers, they must develop time management, problem-solving, research, self-motivation, organizational, and communication skills (among others)! 

Supporting the development of independent work skills goes beyond simply assigning work for independent study. For students to make the transition from "working alone" to working successfully independently, they must be able to monitor themselves, and this requires that students understand exactly what is expected of them and why. Blending independent learning with group work and full class participation will help students see independent work as necessary to achieve their goals. Digital Theatre+ has recently launched daily lesson plans, all of which provide 50-minute lessons for English and Drama teachers (across a range of subjects), and independent activities are carefully blended throughout, with clear learning objectives for students to understand.

5. Hearing from professionals

Career readiness comes from honing the key skills (such as those listed above), but our teacher community has also expressed how integral professional insights have been in supporting career readiness.

For those of you who already have access to Digital Theatre+, you will find a rich collection of expert insights, documentaries, and interviews from a variety of careers. Hearing from professionals can be a driving force for students to kick-start their futures. 

For those of you who do not have access, you can take a quick tour today to see the wealth of resources available to help your students become career ready (and save you a lot of time in the process!).