What I Wish I Had Been Taught In SchoolPosted: October 27, 2020
By Lauren Siegal, College Student
When I reflect on elementary, middle, and high school, I remember that my teachers spent a large portion of time preparing us for the standardized state exams. While it’s important to do well on these tests to move on to the next grade, it is also crucial to remember the additional skills that students need to learn.
LISTENING | DOWNLOAD LESSON
Lesson 1 from the Overcoming Obstacles K-2 curriculum provides several short exercises that help you teach your students how to be better listeners. One of the activities involves drawing a diagram for students to illustrate the components of what makes a good listener. From playing a game of “Simon Says” to having students practice interviewing each other, these activities will afford students the opportunity to practice good listening skills, a fundamental component of learning.
EMPATHY | DOWNLOAD LESSON
In Lesson 2 of Elementary 3-5, students will learn what empathy is and why it’s important to be empathetic towards others. The “5 Steps to Empathy” activity sheet breaks down empathy in a simple and straightforward list. Students are then given scenarios where they practice putting themselves in someone else’s place using the five-step outline. This lesson can help prevent bullying and create an environment where students feel more connected to one another.
HANDLING PEER PRESSURE | DOWNLOAD LESSON
Lesson 10 of Elementary 3-5, “Handling Peer Pressure” explains that there are positive and negative examples of peer pressure and provides educators with activities to teach students how to identify and handle it in a healthy and effective way. Beginning with playing students a brief video of a chameleon changing colors, this lesson then leads into the discussion of asking students if they have ever been in a situation where they felt the pressure to “fit in” with a crowd. The skill of handling peer pressure will remain relevant throughout students’ entire time in school, so the earlier that it is taught, the better.
MAKING DECISIONS BIG AND SMALL | DOWNLOAD LESSON
Students gain more freedom as they progress through school, which is one of the many reasons why decision making is such an important skill. “Making Decisions Big and Small” from the Decision Making module will help you teach your students how to recognize the factors that influence their decisions. The ability to navigate the decision making process can help students in other areas of their lives beyond the classroom.
GETTING ORGANIZED | DOWNLOAD LESSON
The first lesson of the Studying Effectively module, “Getting Organized,” begins by helping students establish a way of organizing their various school materials and recognize the importance of scheduling study time in a way that works best for them. Teaching this skill and encouraging students to practice these habits in middle school will make the eventual transition to high school that much easier.
ADAPTING TO CHANGE | DOWNLOAD LESSON
The middle school years are a big period of growth and transformation for all students, both academically and socially. In the lesson “Adapting to Change” in the Lookin to the Future module, students will learn that although change can be stressful, they have the power to cope with it in a positive way.
MANAGING STRESS | DOWNLOAD LESSON
The workload and difficulty of students’ classes are likely going to increase as they progress through high school and move on to college, which is why stress management is so important. “Managing Stress” from the Skills for School and Beyond module will help you teach students how to identify, manage, and reduce their symptoms of stress in a healthy way.
PROBLEM SOLVING TECHNIQUES | DOWNLOAD LESSON
Sometimes we tend to react to problems by complaining, avoiding, or merely accepting situations as they are. It is invaluable for students to learn the steps of the decision making process so they can effectively solve problems that they encounter. “Problem Solving Techniques” from the Problem Solving module gives you the tools to teach students how to identify strategies for solving problems they may be faced with.
MANAGING YOUR TIME | DOWNLOAD LESSON
Lesson 2 of the Skills for School and Beyond module, “Managing Your Time,” will help students realize that time management is related to achieving their personal goals and priorities. It will also provide them with effective strategies and tips to better manage their time. Procrastination is something that a lot of people deal with, but starting to build better habits at a young age will be helpful in the long run.
Textbooks, formulas, and exams help students learn new information, but they do not teach one of the most important things—life skills. The lessons above, along with many others, can all be downloaded online for free at overcomingobstacles.org.