NEW Essential Skills & Dispositions Toolkit

Many schools and classrooms across the country identify student skills for success. Ideally, those skills cut across content areas and are grouped within grade bands. They are communicated and prioritized within the learning community. While Vermont’s AOE has identified five Transferable Skills, some learning institutions choose different ones – sometimes also known as “21st century skills”.

Because these skills apply across content areas, they are high leverage opportunities for learning and teaching. Learning to communicate and collaborate effectively will serve students well across their learning and life. And, because these skills transcend specific disciplines or content areas, they are easy to apply to personally meaningful learning, increasing student engagement. Win-win.

A popular framework is the Essential Skills and Dispositions: Developmental Frameworks developed in 2015 by the National Center for Innovation in Education and the Educational Policy Improvement Center. This framework includes four essential skills – collaboration, communication, creativity, and self-direction in learning. We lovingly call them the “ES & D’s”

We have gathered some of our favorite resources to support you as your students work on developing these skills in this Essential Skills & Dispositions Toolkit. (You can also find it in its permanent location here). 

What are the Essential Skills & Dispositions?

How can I help my students develop their collaboration skills?

How can I start integrating the communication ES & D into my teaching?

What does it mean for my students to improve their creativity skills?

How can my learners develop more self-direction skills?

When a learning community can focus on a few essential skills for students, powerful things can happen. It’s possible that students can chart their own growth, reflect on their development, and take ownership over learning. If other tools such as PLPs and Student-Led Conferences are used, students can demonstrate, share and report on their development of essential skills and dispositions.

Please connect with us and share your work with essential skills. 

Rachel Mark

Rachel Mark joins the Tarrant Institute as a Professional Development Coordinator in the southern part of Vermont. Prior to working with TIIE, Rachel was a middle school literacy and social studies teacher at Tarrant partner school Manchester Elementary-Middle. As a teacher, Rachel loved exploring new content and new methods with inquisitive young adolescents. She thinks middle schools are the most dynamic learning centers in the state. Rachel is passionate about supporting teachers and helping them overcome obstacles; it’s her mission to break down the barriers that teachers face in implementing change. She is interested in student reflection and portfolio based assessment, inquiry and project-based learning When she's not reading, researching and supporting teachers, Rachel loves to play. She balances her life shuttling three busy kids around by getting sweaty and zen - yoga, exercise, and being outdoors are how she recharges her metaphorical batteries.

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