Long before this global pandemic broke out as an unprecedented reality in our country, the problems of the educational system, the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of its reforms, the educational laws subject to political ups and downs, the communication deficiencies between the educational community, excessive bureaucratization and hierarchy of the system. The disturbing interest in education seems to have always been present: in academic and extra-academic settings; in the so-called regulated, non-regulated and informal education, increasingly diluted; accompanying family conversations; in meetings between professionals, or in talks with young people. Too often there is a clear general perception of dissatisfaction coupled with impotence about education, as a latent complaint, in a resigned tone, as something that has little remedy, as a timid desire to improve what, being so important, it is not considered urgent. Soft skills resources to generate change in the new educational era.
The educational debate is very much alive, it is nothing new to recognize that, during the recent health emergency, education has taken a back seat, it has not been considered a priority, rather it has been perceived as a lesser evil, as if “confined education” were the only solution to all the ills of the educational system. What if we start to consider the start of the 2020-2021 academic year as an educational emergency?
Technologies should not become mere substitutes for the pedagogical figure of teachers, the great challenge of education, authentic educational innovation does not mean giving ourselves without limits to technological means that is not the only way.
The greatest pedagogical challenge now and must always be to humanize education, now more than ever. We are in a historical moment of difficult return. From this perspective, we want to focus our article to respond to the needs, resources and strategies for the next school year at all educational levels to achieve collaborative and supportive learning.
If we settle in complaining, in conformism, in non-action, if we do not face the fears and ghosts of the educational universe, we are going to place ourselves very far from leadership attitudes for change.
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Accepting external circumstances that we cannot control is the first step to becoming aware of the reality of a historical moment that, as we mentioned, has come to stay and that, in all probability, will fulfill the function of transforming university and non-university educational institutions, a whole system, in short, made up of people who will also have to adapt as individual beings, as people from a holistic, systemic perspective.
The world is moving towards a new paradigm that is causing changes in society. The duty of the educational system and the entire educational community is to make contributions to this change.
But how to implement the humanization of education? How to humanize the educational system? Innovating in education brings with it leading change, innovating implies distinguishing oneself by working from leadership, moving away from inertia and the comfort zone, implies opening horizons, overcoming the feeling of threatening fear and building a new pedagogical model.
We are starting from a new paradigm, a new educational model focused on people, focused on processes and not only on results. The path, the orientation to being, when learning to be and the long-term vision are important. A new paradigm that identifies with Neuroeducation, with the knowledge of the teaching-learning process, of how the student learns and of what for, that focuses on creativity, intuition, personalized education, in the true sense of learning that is, in short, becoming the person we want to be.
The training of human resources for education is also needed as if it were a company: the human factor as the engine of change, emotional intelligence as the center of learning, working with resistance to change. How? Developing and promoting transversal competences in teachers. Skills that seemed to have lost value will now be essential. Some of them are: generosity, inspiration, leadership, talent, love, empathy, humanism, emotional connection, authenticity, awareness, intuition, creativity, observation, active listening, self-confidence, security, commitment, etc.
Said skills or competences contribute to a double objective: on the one hand, to analyze where the limitations of the reality of the teaching staff are in the day to day and how to overcome barriers to overcome obstacles such as the loss of students’ habits, their routines or lack of motivation. In short, to help teachers face the fear of the unknown and facilitate the opening to their own self-knowledge, towards the vision of a teacher profile adapted to the needs of the 21st century.
On the other hand, leading is much more than leading. A good leader encourages, motivates and trains the members of his team, leads from being. To lead is to motivate the students in their learning process, it is to give them reasons for action and it is to accompany the entire educational community on its path to personal and professional improvement.
Soft skills, essential for teachers and students in the next year
Now, soft skills constitute an essential personal resource for returning to the classroom in the next academic year 2020-2021 and can be developed from these premises:
- Empowerment of the educational professional in its different categories, in particular, to management positions, teaching teams and educational guidance departments, whose main resource is professional leadership.
- Personal and professional self-knowledge through group or individual training of teachers, to provide them with resources that benefit interpersonal relationships, openness to families and all members of the educational community.
- The observation of one’s own behavior and the immediate environment in this process of self-knowledge. We assume that management positions have the virtue of knowing in depth their departments, teams, culture of the educational center and the work environment.
- The curiosity of the teacher through questions to the environment, to the entire educational community, gathering information on needs and taking the attitude of a field researcher.
- The knowledge and recognition of the teacher’s own values, of what distinguishes them from the rest, through the performance of techniques such as Dafos, empathy maps, accelerated learning techniques, which allow them to reflect themselves and their surroundings in their vulnerabilities, shortcomings, strengths or opportunities.
- Once awareness has been worked through these avenues, an action plan must be developed. What action strategies should this plan focus on?
- In providing professionals with tools to develop meetings, changing the models of relationship and work within the cloisters, going on to focus on problems by researching, developing solutions and sharing results.
Training to lead change by encouraging others, developing managerial profiles with positions focused on action to articulate dynamic and flexible projects.
Team management and generate structures to develop pedagogical leadership and cooperative work.
Generating systemic change goes beyond mere adaptation to new circumstances. New challenges are appearing in the educational world, but also new opportunities. It will be necessary to share new learning by trying new strategies in times of uncertainty for teachers.
It is about testing the ability to unlearn by looking for the advantages of changes in social habits and in the ways of doing things. It is about training through more experiential learning and showing the availability of learning to learn, releasing the burden that the status of teacher entails.
This crisis has placed us in an emergency situation, also educational, which requires, above all, responsiveness and proactive attitudes. Soft skills are learned, trained and will become an essential tool due to the great value that human interaction acquires…