7 Essential Skills for Students

Jul 19, 2018

As teachers, I fully believe we need time.
Time to allow experiences to "fill us up" so that we can be prepared and mentally/emotionally healthy for the new little beings that will enter into  our lives.
Time to form relationships with our peers, our professional community.  Without that, it can be easy to feel alone and isolated.  And that just won't get you far enough in this job.
Time to process how we can grow and change.

Without this time...I am not sure how we could make it through this journey.  Because it is not about a product for us...it is about the process.  We are adding one layer to the lives we impact.  And it needs to be a good layer.

This was my third Nerd Camp this  year. 

It completely fills me.  I come away with ideas for the year, words of wisdom, and closer relationships with my professional community!  This was not always the case in my career.  I had to seek this out because I was not being "filled up" for the year.  Do you have anything in your life that does this for you?  A great conference you attend, book studies you enjoy, or even just dinners with your colleagues?

This year I will be trying out some of the ideas that I learned from the conference (as I always do) but I wanted to share just one or two today that I am thinking about.

The very first session I attended was with Maria Dismondy.  She is the author of Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun.  Have you seen that one?  Her session was all about the 7 Essential Skills that children need.  When I got home, I started to research this a bit more.  I believe some of the findings come from the book Mind in the Making.  Here are the 7 skills that we discussed:
  • * Empathy
  • * Communication
  • * Decision Making
  • * Self Motivation
  • * Problem Solving
  • * Time Management
  • * Creativity
For each of these skills, Maria shared ideas that can be added into our daily school routines and home/school connections.  Empathy really stuck out to me because there are several ideas that I want to implement this year.  But that is going to be its own post (leaving you in suspense!).  But here were a few of my take-aways from the other essential skills.

Communication: journaling
Has anyone done this with their students?  I have not wrapped my head around it, yet.  But I would love to write back and forth with my students more.  But I cannot see how to manage it...yet.

Decision Making: Self-talk
I share my thinking process during reading lessons, math lessons, etc.  But I do not talk during my simple decision making times.  Students need a model on how to think through decisions and that there is not always one answer.  I need to do more of this.

Self Motivation: Goal Setting-then check in
Goal setting with students is not a strength of mine and it needs to be.  They need to take ownership of their own learning; therefore, I have to provide that space and time for them to do so.  Goal setting but then checking-in on how they are doing to achieve that goal is important.

Problem Solving: Body Alarms
My building has been working to improve our teaching of feelings through discussion and morning meetings.  But teaching body alarms is also important because they come right along with feelings.  Discussing an increase in heart beat, starting to sweat or getting hot all need to be recognized so that students learn how to handle those feelings.

Time Management: Shared Calendar
Most of us have calendars but just having one that is written all over can help students look ahead to what is going to happen or what did happen.  This is simple but effective!

Creativity: Unstructured Play
Students need more time to play.  So much learning occurs and creativity comes about when they are left to their own imaginations.  Maria also mentioned have a craft closet in her home.  One thing I would like to try to do is create some "craft bags" for students to take home and create with!  I wonder what ideas can come to life!

Are there any activities or routines that you do that help to really hit one of these essential skills?  I would love to hear about it!


  1. Oh yes to all of it!!! And I am eagerly waiting the upcoming blog post on empathy!!!

    1. I'm on it, girl!! :) I wanted to make a couple things to share!


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