Expect any high school to prepare students for college academically. These days, that expectation is the standard. The four years of high school are also when students learn how to bridge the gap into adulthood. Parents should also expect high schools to equip their students with life skills - accountability, ownership of mistakes, time management, etc. - as well.
Think back to your college years. How much success in your college career depended on your academic preparedness? How much was contingent on life skills such as conflict resolution and work ethic?
Now think to your first job interviews. Did the interviewer have questions about your transcript or your ability to work with others?
It’s a tall order to prepare students equally for both life and academics, but that is where great high schools shine.
Lutheran High believes that student success goes beyond the classroom into the development of a whole person. This is what it means to thrive, not merely survive in high school.
Bachelor degrees - even masters or Ph.D.’s for that matter - don’t translate into post-graduate success. High schools that invest in the development of the whole person - academically, emotionally, and spiritually - will graduate more students ready for success in the real world.
Problem Solving in the Classroom
A successful adult can problem solve well. In turn, those adults will make a more significant impact on their communities.
In the world of Google, problem-solving in the classroom is taking on a very different shape. In an article according to Teacher Vision:
Seeking information - or the “just Google it” - function is only the first step. But, it’s also the step where most students stop. The next step - generating new knowledge - is where the rubber meets the road in problem-solving. Teachers who can lead students to this step are what we would call "rockstars."
Asking students to generate new knowledge or come up with their own solutions take responsibility for their education. Each student brings a unique perspective to the problem. This leads to new insight into the problem and then to decisions based on their unique perspective.
As Mr. Blomenberg shares in the video above, this is the opposite of teaching to a test or regulating information. The style of teaching we try to avoid at LuHi is, “Students, the answer is A. What’s the answer? A.”
Students don’t need teachers to tell them answers; they have devices at their fingertips to do that for them already. All they have to say is, “Hey Siri.” Information by itself is rather useless until it's applied.
Dynamic teachers do not rely on one method of getting information across to students. Lectures, group work, and hands-on projects all have a place in the classroom. Good teachers take steps beyond seeking information to generate new knowledge in students.
Rockstar teachers take problem-solving even further. They ask students to make decisions based on the new information or opinions they’ve formed based on their research.
Students who have practiced this skill before college will standout. Google holds an infinite amount of information. In high school, students need to understand how to problem solve beyond the data.
Problem Solving Beyond the Classroom
Problem solving goes beyond the classroom as Mr Ness says in the video. Life skills are harder to teach students. Teachers have to be intentional about raising students up in this area.
At LuHi, this starts by encouraging students to be "all-in" with school culture. We encourage kids to take ownership of their space. We help them with organizational skills. We walk them through best practices for conflict resolution (Matthew 18).
An emphasis is placed on punctuality, preparedness, and a strong work ethic. This lays the building blocks for problem-solving.
Teenagers crave accountability. Two years ago, our Dean Team polled the student body, asking for feedback on ideas for improvement. Overwhelmingly, students said they valued when teachers held their classmates accountable for little things like dress code or class participation. Accountability creates responsibility.
Teachers are role models. What students observe in their teachers will impact how they act as adults. Parents should seek a school full of teachers who will instill the same values they are teaching at home. Students will solve problems in the same way they witness the adults in their life solving problems.
Students about to leave their high school, hometown, and parents equipped with problem-solving skills are better prepared for adulthood.
All students can thrive in high school. Sure, not every student will be an A+ student. But, every student is capable of learning the necessary skills needed to be a productive member of society. With the right guidance, graduates will be able to think critically. Problem-solving - in and out of the classroom - will be second nature. When students see at a young age the great things they are capable of, they will be able to replicate it in college and beyond.