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Negotiating Skills

During the first days of a class or a group coming together for the first time, several processes take place: Initiation, Goal Setting and Assessment. During the goal setting and assessment phases, skills that students need will be identified. Because being explicit about what is being taught and learned is important and because students need to be involved in making those decisions, teachers and students practice negotiating and prioritizing the skills to be taught.

Here are several ways this can happen:

1. Connecting skills directly to goals.
After students identify their goals, ask them what skills they think they will need to achieve them? Student brainstorm a list and the teacher can add to the list filling in gaps they notice. Following some initial assessment, toghether they can prioritize the most important skills and focus on them first. The teacher can assist students in relating these to IvCANS skills and talk about how the same skills that students need to achieve their goals are useful in their personal life, community involvement, and in the workplace.

2. Investigate a master.
After identifying a broad content for the class: i.e.: job readiness, reading, math etc., ask students: "What skills does a person have who is a master or pro at ________?" Together they can brainstorm a list and then identify someone they know who is a master or pro. This could be a friend who is a good reader or a teacher or a relative who is good at getting through job interviews. They interview the sperson, sasking them to identify what skills they use when reading for example. The students report back, compiling a list, assessing their current competence, and then negotiating and prioritizing which they would like to learn.

3. Teacher presents a skills list.
The teacher could select some of the IvCANS skills that meet the goals of the class and ask students to discuss them. After doing some initial assessment, they could add or delete and once again prioritize the list..

Using the lists
The teacher and/or students copy the final list and keep a copy in the students' working folders. The skills can be taught during a theme or any other activity where they are needed, or can be part of direct or one-to-one instruction. After an activity either as a part of a theme or otherwise, ask the students to turn to the list and discuss/identify which skills they think they used.

The list can also be used as part of assessment. Pre and post assesment can be designed or assessment may be from observation or a collection of regular application. The students and teacher can look at the lists over time and note the ways the students are using each skill, both in class or outside.

Proof of application of skills can be included in student portfolios. This application may come from class assignments or projects. Students should be able to discuss how those skills can be used in the community and in the workplace.

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