Did you know that 65% of children entering primary school will ultimately end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist? Thanks to emerging technologies and an evolving society, the future workforce will look significantly different than it does today. As a result, students are expected to gain skills that prepare them for the uncertainty and unpredictability of future employment opportunities, career choices and even the nature of their jobs.
Not surprising, adaptability is a key skill of the future, according to a leading human resources magazine. Also known as learnability, this skill helps students adapt to new situations, environments and programs as well as learn new skills quickly. And the effects extend beyond employment, as adaptable students are more likely to participate in class, enjoy school, have a higher self-esteem and be more satisfied with life.
As educators, we share in the responsibility of creating well-rounded students that can embrace and adapt to challenges and change. In order to prepare them for the future, we must find ways to foster adaptability early on. And afterschool programs are the perfect environment to teach this important skill. Below are a few strategies to help you develop more adaptable students.
1. Focus on Interdisciplinary Learning
Jobs are transforming thanks to technological advancements, and the number of cross-functional roles are increasing. This means that, in many jobs, employees will be expected to have technical, social and analytical skills, according to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). To prepare students to “live at intersections,” we must avoid teaching content in silos and begin integrating subject areas to promote cross-disciplinary learning.
There are limitless ways to achieve this, especially in afterschool programs. You can combine math and tech, integrate art into STEM (also known as STEAM) or even use yoga to promote social-emotional development. This encourages flexibility in learning, which will be beneficial in their future careers.
2. Teach Resilience
According to SecEd, encouraging resilience in students is one of the keys to promoting their adaptability. Resilience refers to one’s ability to handle adversity, allowing them to deal with change in positive ways. A simple way to teach resilience is through engaging, hands-on activities. This activity from Socially Strong, Emotionally Secure: 50 Activities to Promote Resilience in Young Children helps students build trusting relationships with caring adults, thus making them feel safe to explore and learn new things.
3. Promote Self-Regulation
Similar to resilience, self-regulation teaches students how to manage their emotions, thoughts and behavior when faced with challenging situations. In a rapidly changing society, students must be able to adapt to new and unexpected changes without exhibiting negative behaviors. In the classroom, for instance, we can teach them how to overcome frustration to solve a difficult math problem or to remain calm when a peer is acting unfriendly. This teachable skill can be reinforced through goal setting, scaffolding and even fun games. The goal is to develop adults who can handle change in the future workplace in positive ways.
4. Dispel the Fear of Failure
With change comes risk, and success comes from the ability to embrace failure. One way to help students prevent the fear of failure is by creating a safe learning environment where they feel comfortable asking questions, taking risks and making mistakes. A few strategies for achieving this includes recognizing effort, establishing a judgment-free zone and building community among students. Being afraid to fail hinders their motivation to learn, which can negatively impact their ability to adapt to changes in their future roles.
5. Encourage Continuous Learning
To succeed in tomorrow’s workforce, students must be willing to learn and develop new skills constantly. We can help by inspiring a love of learning in students. The key is to help them look beyond extrinsic motivations, like grades and recognition, and tap into the intrinsic rewards of learning. You can do this by making learning fun, helping students explore their interests and passions and displaying your own enthusiasm for learning. This quote by business executive Clay Bedford sums it up perfectly: “You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.”
With the world around us changing at exponential rates, it’s virtually impossible to prepare students for the exact skills they’ll need to succeed in the future workforce. That’s why it’s important to foster adaptability and teach them how to adapt to change and challenges in positive, meaningful ways. In this way, students will learn to keep pace with unexpected changes and achieve continuous success in their future career.