The key competencies are just another name for the old essential skills, aren't they?
The key competencies are more than just a set of skills. They are about the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values we employ as we encounter different situations and interact with diverse people and their perspectives. Developing the key competencies is a lifelong process as we respond to, reflect on, and integrate new knowledge as a result of our experiences.
Students need multiple opportunities to develop and apply the key competencies in a supportive environment across a range of learning contexts and school events.
We have decided to focus on one key competency each week to ensure we get good coverage on every competency by the end of the term, but it isn’t always a good fit with what we might be doing in the classroom. Are there other ways of ensuring we get good coverage and depth in each competency?
A focus on a particular key competency as part of a professional development or review cycle can be useful in exploring the complexity of each competency, particularly in terms of school curriculum design.
It is also important to explore how each of the learning/subject areas can provide rich contexts and opportunities for developing different key competencies at different times to other learning areas.
When planning units, teachers will be thinking about the strengths and needs of their students and the teaching approaches they will be using to best bring about the learning outcomes. This is an ideal time to plan for developing particular aspects of one or more of the key competencies that align with the approach.
Term and yearly plans will be useful in mapping key competency development opportunities across the learning areas and school events.
Our school is developing indicators for each of the key competencies, which we will monitor our students against to ensure we are developing their competencies. Are there any risks we have not foreseen?
Students need to be given opportunities to set goals and to self and peer assess the demonstration of a particular key competency within the context that it has been taught. This reinforces the idea of greater student ownership and self-management of the learning process.
The teacher is an important part of this cycle, helping individualise learning goals with students, providing the learning opportunity, evaluating students’ progress towards their goals, and planning for next learning steps.
Context is so important. We all have strengths and weaknesses in the different competencies, dependent on the situation we find ourselves in, and the knowledge and strategies we have available to us. Reporting on student development in the key competencies must reflect the context in which they were observed.