Trevor Muir on Soft Skills as Essential Skills

At this year’s annual Fall into Place conference, we invited Trevor Muir to be one of our guest keynote speakers and workshop leaders. Trevor is an educator, author, and speaker who is extremely open-source in his approach with sharing resources for other teachers to create a more engaging classroom. Trevor’s books, The Epic Classroom and The Collaborative Classroom are replete with amazing resources and ideas for parents and educators to reconnect with their passion for learning and explore what Trevor coins as EPIC learning. 

The main takeaway from Trevor’s workshop was, predictably enough, that we need to stop calling skills like collaboration, critical thinking, confidence, work ethic, communication, and so on soft skills when they are, in fact, essential skills. 

Trevor points out that the main reasons cited that Millenials get fired is because they can’t collaborate, they lack confidence, they struggle with communication, and are not thinking critically in terms of overall vision and goals. Yet, as Trevor notes with his cheeky smile, “There’s nothing soft about being fired.” 

What followed was a fruitful open-ended discussion between educators and OST providers facilitated by Trevor. He poses his opening question, “What makes an ideal graduate?” Many responses crop up–ranging from learning how to “fail forward” to understanding identity and confidence-building. Trevor proposes that his fellow educators meditate on whether our school system is currently producing what we understand as ideal graduates, and then further pushes his audience to consider designing learning experiences that would implicitly value essential skills and not rely as much on GPA as a measure of success. 

Towards the end of the workshop, following more open discussion, Trevor provided guidance and several resources to do just that. For example, he recommends using “Group Contracts” for group work and projects to facilitate better communication and collaboration between students. Go to Trevor’s website to access his amazing resources!