Strong social skills: The purpose of formal education is to develop a well-rounded and functional member of society. School teaches students the knowledge they need to perform productive tasks for business and employment and learn a living wage. However, the knowledge students gain in school will be useless if they do not develop social skills; human beings are social creatures. In the first instance, gaining knowledge will be practically impossible without social skills.
Good social skills are essential to get by in life as they allow us to know how to interact with others and act in different scenarios. While most people pick up social skills along the line without being actively taught, it is always better to reinforce social skills through intentional learning and instruction. This blog post will expose us to what social skills are and how they can be useful to increase productivity in the classroom.
What are Strong social skills?
Social skills, also known as interpersonal skills, are the skills we use in our day-to-day interactions with other people in different settings. It is how we communicate verbally and non-verbally. Social skills are how we define and shape acceptable social behavior by communicating our thoughts and feelings to others. It is everything from the stance we take while we communicate, to the tone of voice and choice of words, and even appearance.
Even though what is considered acceptable social behavior will always evolve, social skills are more like a constant that helps us shape this evolution and adapt to the shift. They involve the learned ability to do something. Just like any other skill, social skills can be taught, learned, and improved. Whether it’s learning how to make small talk or how to effectively communicate with others, we can always benefit from honing our social skills.
Types of social skills useful in the classroom
There are a variety of social skills that can be useful in the classroom setting. Here are some of them:
- Sharing and collaboration
Sharing is a skill that students must learn to develop to facilitate smooth learning in the classroom. Kids who do not know how to share and collaborate might find it increasingly difficult to formulate relationships with their peers leading to isolation, loneliness, and sometimes conflict. Instructors can reinforce this skill by making students share learning resources during instruction.
Empathy for others is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Empathy and caring about others will allow learners to embrace diversity and teach them to practice inclusion. When you teach caring as a skill, empathy comes more naturally. Caring for people, irrespective of who they are, will show students to also practice the same thing among one another.
- Active listening and communication
Listening to others and not interrupting will help students learn and process information better. Listening is not merely a way to endear students to others but also to strengthen their ability to comprehend language. This will help them learn how to handle social interactions, understand concepts and information, and communicate when asked. Students learn to listen when they are listened to. You cannot continually interrupt your students; you are putting across that it is okay to talk over people and not listen.
- Following directions
Following directions involves teaching students to pay attention to detail, respect authority, and perform simple tasks to perfection. However, before a kid can learn to follow directions, they need to have the behavior reinforced by being given simple directions and not being rewarded for not following instructions other than in exceptional circumstances.
- Peer negotiation
For reasons that may include differences in social status, economic status, academic abilities, and home training, some students may feel intimidated by their peers. This can sometimes lead to conflicts. Proper conflict resolution and management must be taught to students to allow them to effectively manage their relationships with their peers.
- Respect for others
Respect for other people’s boundaries is necessary for the classroom. This will prevent peers from interrupting one another’s learning processes. Students should also have the ability to set boundaries for their peers so they can learn early on how to get out of uncomfortable situations.
Ways social skills improve productivity in the classroom
Fostering good social skills in the classroom is beneficial to learning. However, for the instructional development of social skills to be effective, it must be conducted by a well-trained educationist. Developing as an educationist involves practical experience as well as formal education. It can be as simple as getting an MA education online to help develop your skills and deliver better value to your students. The following are some of the ways social skills improve productivity in the classroom:
- Peer acceptance
Students want to maintain cordial relationships with their peers. A lack of social skills can lead to unresolved conflicts in the classroom that can make some learners uncomfortable and negatively impact their learning. On the other hand, good social skills lead to peer acceptance, which can lift students’ moods and increase productivity.
- Promotes academic success
Good social skills help to improve individual learning in the classroom. Students who can set and respect boundaries, ask for help, and communicate, have a better chance of fulfilling their academic demands than students who can’t. This will no doubt promote academic success and create a positive classroom environment.
- School safety
Good social skills promote safety in school in that students learn proper relationship management and conflict resolution and actively unlearn aggressive social behaviors. Aggressive behaviors and lingering conflicts can make the school environment feel unsafe for some students, negatively impacting their productivity in the classroom.
- Build resilience in students
Resilience is necessary for students to learn actively and constantly improve themselves by taking on new learning challenges. Good social skills will reinforce sometimes uncomfortable behaviors in students to help them become better and more effective learners.
Lack of social skills among the students can have long-lasting negative effects if no conscious attempt is made at learning interpersonal skills and unlearning negative social behaviors they have picked up. Instructors and educationists have a huge role to play in helping students build and nurture these skills. Hence educationists should not only learn social skills but should also learn how to teach social skills.