As teachers, we often think students should have a certain set of skills that are “common knowledge.” The fact is “common knowledge” is not so common anymore. Certain skills are not used as often as they once were, but that does not mean they are not important or needed.
One of our main jobs is to remove barriers so students can achieve success they never thought possible. It’s easy to say, “This is something their parents should have taught them.” Maybe that is true, but the fact is not all students are being exposed to these skills. We can remove that barrier with “Professionalism Day.”
“One of our main jobs is to remove barriers so students can achieve success they never thought possible.”
When working with some other teachers during a summer training, we tossed around some of the skills we considered “common knowledge” but have seen lacking with our students. How great would it be to have a chunk of designated time dedicated to exposing our students to these skills? “Professionalism Day” was born.
This past fall I attempted my first “Professionalism Day” with my students. At first, I only intended for my Entrepreneurship class to take part in the event. As planning went on, I included my ICE (Interdisciplinary Cooperative Education) and Internship classes, and some other teachers asked if they could run their classes through it as well. All in all, we had over 150 high school students complete our ten “Professionalism Day” stations. It would take about 90 minutes to run a class of 20-30 students through all the stations.
Each station was set up with a QR code that linked to an instructional video, written instructions, and necessary supplies. Each student was given a worksheet to complete as they rotated through the stations, which was later turned in for a grade. Students were given a survey asking what stations they found to be the most beneficial. The top three stations were tying a tie, writing a check, and making a phone call.
Professionalism Day Stations
Students watched an instructional video or used a diagram to tie their own tie. Multiple ties were provided. We had other staff members there to assist and sign off on the students’ worksheets as they mastered the skill.
Students learned the parts of a check and the proper way to write a check. On their worksheets, they had a copy of a check and were given instructions on who to write a check to and for how much.
How to Give a Professional Handshake
Students watched a video and were given a diagram of the proper way to give a professional handshake. They partnered up with another student and practiced shaking hands. They then had questions on their worksheet to fill out about giving a proper handshake.
Multiple irons, ironing boards, and button up shirts were provided as students watched an instructional video or used a diagram to iron their shirts. We had other staff members there to assist and sign off on the students’ worksheets as they mastered the skill.
Fake money was provided for students. An instructional video showed students how to count back change. They were given a situation where they have to count back change to each other. They then had questions to fill out in their worksheets.
Students were taken through the parts of a proper thank you note. They then wrote a thank you note to a teacher and attached it to their worksheets. I then gave those notes to the teacher.
How to Write a Professional Email
Students were taken through the parts of a professional email. They then wrote and sent an email to me to schedule a meeting to talk about an assignment.
Students were taken through some of the most common mistakes people make with social media. Students then answered some questions on their worksheets.
How to Make a Professional Phone Call
Students had to call another staff member to set up a time for an interview. The students dialed the staff member’s phone extension and went through the process of a professional phone call to set up an interview.
Students were taken through the placement of items on an envelope. They then addressed an envelope and attached it to their worksheets.
The event was, in my opinion, very successful. Students were exposed to new skills, were up and moving around, and could see the application to the real world. This is definitely an event I will use again in the future and am considering other stations that could be added.