The Critical Skills Classroom

You know that students learn best by doing, be it academic content or social-emotional skills. The Critical Skills Classroom gives you the tools you need to improve your classroom practice with complex, interesting, real-world learning opportunities that authentically boost student motivation and achievement while meeting academic standards. Students are actively engaged in solving meaningful problems- but it's more than just problem-based learning. It intentionally targets the skills and dispositions that people need to be successful after they leave school. It's experiential. It's collaborative. It's the hardest work that students and teachers ever love doing because they create and they explore...and they have a lot of fun.

The CSC is a comprehensive approach that creatively and effectively integrates four powerful teaching methodologies:

  • collaborative learning

  • experiential learning

  • problem-based learning

  • standards-aligned/ competency-based learning

into a mindset in which the teacher and the student are co-learners, engaged in the same learning process but focused on different learning goals.

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Critical Skills Cheat Sheet (2).png

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CSP. Intro

What are the Critical Skills & Fundamental Dispositions?

This is the list we've been using, but we recognize that many schools, districts, and organizations have their own. The tools and processes of the CSC work just as well with whatever skills and dispositions you want to use.

The Critical Skills

  • Problem solving

  • Decision making

  • Critical thinking

  • Creative thinking

  • Communication

  • Organization

  • Collaboration

The Fundamental Dispositions

  • Leadership

  • Ownership

  • Self-direction

  • Quality work

  • Ethical character

  • Curiosity and wonder

  • Community

Where did Critical Skills come from? The Critical Skills Program© was created in 1985 by a consortium of teachers, business people, and university faculty in response to the landmark education policy report A Nation at Risk. Since then, it has been continually revised, reworked, and recreated by practicing pk-20 educators and allied professionals in response to the evolving educational, social, and policy climate. Click here for a more in depth history of the program.

Who participates in Critical Skills Institutes?

Anyone who teaches anything, basically! That means we've included classroom teachers (preK to graduate level) from public and private schools, homeschooling parents, administrators, facilitators, trainers from the business community, librarians, technology integrators, and folks who run programs at zoos, museums, parks, and rec programs. If your work requires that you help people solve problems or learn new skills, Critical Skills will help you do it better.

How many people have been trained? Where are they?

Since 1985, we have trained over 10,000 teachers in New England, New York, California, Massachusetts, Texas, Maryland, the United Kingdom, Scotland, Lebanon, India, Indonesia, and the Netherlands. We are currently developing new relationships. We'd love to talk with you about becoming one of them!

How do you do the training?

The delivery model for the CSC has evolved significantly with the advent of social media and advances in technology. Currently, we offer on and off-site training for teachers through a face-to-face institute experience combined with on-site or online school coaching and online coursework. All Critical Skills Institutes are facilitated by trained Master Teachers, practicing classroom teachers who not only use the CSC in their own work but also make intentional changes and modifications to the model which they then disseminate throughout the Master Teacher Community. Currently, 35 preK-12 teachers and school leaders have been selected as “Master Teachers” by ACSR staff in collaboration with existing Master Teachers. Master Teachers are identified by institute facilitators during the initial training and follow-up support and must have not only a deep commitment to using the model and an interest in developing new skill as adult educators, but also a passion for the CSC as a tool for changing the lives of students and teachers.

Is this a school wide thing? Can one teacher do it?

Yes and yes. We work with schools, districts,and individual teachers. Like any initiative, it works better if you're working with colleagues, but you can get the same support by connecting with the larger network of Critical Skills practitioners.

Antioch University New England

40 Avon Street

Keene, NH 03431