Teacher Thoughts: Preparing Students for Workplace Skills

Literacy has an ever-changing definition. The skills required to be literate change with the times, and in today’s world, the skills required to be literate in the workplace are rapidly changing. Simultaneously, the demand for such skills is increasing. Students must be taught how to be successful in the workplace, and they can be taught these skills in their Language Arts classes, as shown in chapter ten of Adolescent Literacy (Beers, et. al). I’ve enjoyed reading through this book and sharing some of my thoughts with my fellow educators. Today’s thoughts are centered on preparing students for the increasing demand of the workplace. My students seem to be valuing their education less and less. They do not understand how the skills they are learning can transfer to the workplace

When learning real skills, it is important that children are learning through real-life experiences. Students must first learn that common workers such as firemen, police officers, nurses, teachers, mechanics, small business owners, etc. are all “workers who must continue to learn as their fields evolve and who must, consequently, be highly literate” (Beers, et. al, 2007). It is a fabulous idea to have real employees of these positions come in to talk to students about their daily duties, emphasizing the need for literacy in their fields, as well as the skills they need to be considered “literate” in their fields.

In Adolescent Literacy, Tom Friedman suggests eight roles students will need to master to be fit to live in the middle-class world. To be successful, students must be: collaborators and orchestrators, synthesizers, explainers, leveragers, adapters, green people, personalizers, and localizers. All of these skills can be taught in a Language Arts classroom, but I hope to accomplish teaching three skills in particular.

1. Collaborators and Orchestrators
Group work is the easiest way to accomplish teaching students to be great collaborators and orchestrators. In my own eleventh grade English class growing up, the teacher split us up into literature groups. Every group read a different book and had to give a presentation of the book at the end of the semester. Each member of a group took turns being in a different role. Roles included leading the discussion, providing questions to discuss, taking notes over the meeting, and creating an activity for the group to participate in. Literature groups met every Friday, and the members had to switch roles each week. Literature groups are a fantastic way for students to develop collaborating skills, such as communicating with each other, working together to fulfill the project requirements, and sorting out roles. Even as a student, I could see the value in collaborating with my group to accomplish the project.

2. Explainers
The importance of being able to explain a situation or tell a story is often overlooked by most students and educators. In actuality, many jobs require being a great explainer, and in order to teach students this fact, it is a wonderful idea to have people of different careers come into the classroom to share with the students how important storytelling is in their field. Students should practice writing narratives with the intent to learn storytelling skills. An advanced group of students could even write a story from the perspective of a person in the field they wish to become a part of.

3. Localizers
Problem solving is one of the most beneficial skills students can learn during their high school career. Solving local problems is an even better quality for students to have. In a Language Arts class, students can research methods in which to solve a local problem and work in groups to create a project. Project-based learning has proven to be one of the most effective styles of learning in today’s education. The more real-world projects students can become involved in, the more they will learn in the process.

Literacy has a whole new meaning in today’s world, and, because of that, education should have a new meaning as well. Today’s students need to develop real skills through real world experiences in order to meet the increasing demands of the workplace.


As a first-year teacher, teaching these skills can seem like a daunting task at time. I’ve enjoyed the names Friedman has given these types of people who use these skills. Perhaps I can incorporate a poster in the classroom that highlights these skill-types. What other suggestions do you have for teaching literacy today? Comment below!


Find the book here: http://amzn.to/2hV8VWq






Author: Rachel

Welcome to Learn-Grow-Teach-Go! I’m Rachel. Join me as I explore what it means to be a life-long learner and begin to live out a more full, balanced, and simplistic lifestyle. I am currently a high school English teacher, and I enjoy traveling the world and adventuring in my spare time. Whether you’re looking for advice on living minimally and simplistically, teaching ideas and lessons, or travel tips and trips, you’ve found the right place. Glad to have you here!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    December 12, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Great post! I teach future teachers and you are so right! Thank you!

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