During the 2017-2018 school year, Canyon ISD began its Soft Skills Initiative to ensure all students graduate with skills they need to be successful and reach their full potential. Our Soft Skills Initiative began with #CISDCompetitiveEdge in which teachers submitted pictures, strategies and lesson plans of how they teach soft skills in the classroom. The soft skills we targeted, known as the “Big Five,” were: Adaptability, Teamwork, Problem-Solving, Conflict Resolution and Communication. From there, we surveyed the Canyon ISD community who identified four characteristics to focus on: Grit, Growth Mindset, Self-Management and Self-Efficacy. Grit is the ability to sustain interest and effort towards a goal. Growth Mindset is the process of increasing intelligence to achieve growth through challenges and failures. Self-Management is taking responsibility for your actions and will be where we ensure we are teaching the “Big Five” soft skills. Finally, all characteristics revolve around self-efficacy or the confidence to succeed in any situation. These four characteristics will become Canyon ISD’s Profile of a Learner, which is the foundation of our Soft Skills Initiative.
During the 2017-2018 school year, Canyon ISD created opportunities for students to learn and apply a variety of skills. Younger students now have the opportunity to compete in UIL academics. Participation in UIL academic contests help students develop oral language and communication skills, become independent readers and writers, develop conceptual understanding, learn to solve problems and apply knowledge to all facets of their lives. Canyon ISD also created Interview Week. During Interview Week, each of our seniors interviewed with a business professional from our community and receive feedback. We believe the opportunity to “Practice without Penalty” in an interview setting gives our students the competitive edge needed to succeed when they interview for a future job. Over 650 students were interviewed during a 3 day period. While Juniors and Seniors were practicing their interview skills, the rest of our students were learning about professional dress, the proper way to introduce yourself and other soft skills.
Canyon ISD is committed to ensuring that our students are prepared to pursue a fulfilling career aligned with their interests. We believe that no matter what our students are planning to do after high school, they should be in a position to choose the college and career pathway that will lead to a successful life. The Canyon ISD Manufacturing Academy creates a challenging learning environment that encourages high expectations for student success in manufacturing. We have partnered with Bell Helicopter, Pantex, Amarillo Gear and Amarillo College who have helped develop our manufacturing academy. These partners have welcomed our teachers into the facilities to learn the exact job-embedded skills our students will need to be successful in their workforce. While our students are learning these skills, they are receiving credit through Amarillo College and a variety of certifications. Our Manufacturing Academy is one example of how Canyon ISD is creating additional opportunities for our students.
College and career readiness is being equipped with the knowledge and skills, habits of thinking, and preparation necessary to successfully complete the first year of college without the need for remediation or to be able to enter the workforce ready to handle the demands of the job successfully. To accomplish this, Canyon ISD has begun to transition all of our Career and Technical programs into the academy model with business partnerships. Our Health Science, CISCO Networking, Construction Technology, Cosmetology and Culinary Arts Academies will teach our students the skills they need in each area, as well as, allow students the opportunity to earn industry-recognized certifications, while in high school. Also, iConnect our K-12 technology initiative has placed more devices in K-8 classrooms and every 9th – 12th grade student has been given a chromebook laptop to access learning all the time. iConnect has also created a Chromesquads at Canyon and Randall High Schools, which is a group of students who manage all chromebooks in our high schools. These students are taught customer service skills, receive training in educational applications and learn how to troubleshoot devices.