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Beyond the Classroom: Preparing for Tomorrow

April 22, 2024

Our mission in the Abbotsford School District is to provide a world-class educational experience for every student. A vital part of this work involves listening to our students and valuing their perspectives. This year, I've had the privilege of engaging with a diverse group of high school students through several forums that included trustees, district leaders, principals, vice principals, parents, and teachers. These discussions have been insightful, with students sharing candid feedback on their educational experiences.

During our most recent session focused on Career Development, as outlined in the BC Framework for Enhancing Student Learning, students expressed their thoughts on how well the district prepares them for life after high school. A thought-provoking comment from one student highlighted an alleged gap in our curriculum: "We are taught how to write an essay about the use of imagery in the works of Edgar Allan Poe, but not how to compose a professional-sounding email." This remark sparked a lively brainstorming session where students listed several practical skills, they felt were essential for adulthood. These included effective telephone communication, financial literacy such as understanding credit cards, meal planning and basic cooking, and everyday practical skills like using a Phillips screwdriver.

To be sure, our schools currently offer a wide range of practical courses, including mandatory Career-Life Education and various Applied Skills courses. What is more, our Language Arts classes do require students to learn to: 

  • Use writing and design processes to plan, develop, and create engaging and meaningful texts for a variety of purposes and audiences
  • Express and support an opinion with evidence to achieve the purpose
  • Reflect on, assess, and refine texts to improve clarity, effectiveness, and impact

Nevertheless, the students' feedback suggests there may be an appetite for more integration of real-world skills in the curriculum. Inspired by their insights, I've drafted a concept for a potential new elective course titled "Adulting 101: Real Skills for Real Life." Here’s what the syllabus could include:

Adulting 101: Course Syllabus

Mastering Communication

  • Writing Professional Emails: Master the art of clear, concise, and respectful communication.
  • Making Professional Phone Calls: Overcome phone anxiety with practical scripts and exercises.
  • Navigating Real Conversations: Learn about body language, active listening, and effective conflict resolution.

Financial Literacy

  • Budgeting Basics: Learn to manage finances to avoid debt.
  • Simple Investing: Introduction to growing your savings responsibly.
  • Negotiating Skills: Learn to negotiate, whether it's buying a car or discussing a job offer.

Home Management

  • Meal Planning and Cooking: Gain essential cooking skills and learn to plan nutritious meals.
  • Basic Repairs: Handle common household repairs and tasks with confidence.
  • Cleaning Hacks: Discover efficient cleaning techniques and laundry basics.

Personal Management

  • Time Management: Find balance among work, life, and leisure.
  • Stress Management: Develop strategies to maintain well-being under stress.
  • Health and Wellness: Understand the basics of physical and mental self-care.

Civic Engagement

  • Understanding Your Rights: Know how to advocate for yourself and navigate systems.
  • Community Participation: Engage in voting and local volunteer opportunities to make a difference.

What do you think? Do you see a place for "Adulting 101" in our curriculum? What other content might we include? Or do our current course options meet the need? Or perhaps you see no need at all? In the Abbotsford School District, our vision is to prepare our students for a lifetime of success. And what better way to make sure we are on the right track than to ask questions and engage in the conversation.