• Heather

Teaching Soft Skills in Special Education Using Conover Online Workplace Readiness

A speech pathologist shared with me recently that Google conducted a study and found that of the top 8 reasons people are most successful at work, the first 7 reasons were soft skills (read: nothing to do with the worker’s capacity to do the actual job at hand). If you aren’t shocked, then you clearly work in special education.


I think the results of the study reinforce what most staff in special education already know and that’s why we see the value in community vocational experiences. Unfortunately, school programs are not always able, for a variety of reasons, to set up their students in small vocational positions in their community to learn and practice these important soft skills. So, we know the value of community based vocational experiences but have a hard time replicating a safe learning experience in the classroom. We also know these skills can’t be taught with integrity using a paper/pencil activity.


Let me take you back for a minute. I attended a conference one of my first years in transition and one of the sessions was from the developers of Conover Online. I’ve never purchased any materials from a conference, but I came back from that session thinking, ‘yes, we need to get this for some of our young adults.’


Since then, my school has purchased credits over and over again and continue to use the program for individual students each year. It fills a very unique need and can be a relatively low cost investment, especially when you want to target a few students at a time.


*This post is not sponsored or affiliated with Conover Online.


What is Conover Online Workplace Readiness? Let me give you a quick overview.

Program Logistics

You purchase credits and spend them when you assign a program to a student. Each student has their own log in. At the time of this post, 5 credits (approximately $25 per student) will allow you to assign the pre-test, modules, tests, and subsequent certificate to a student.


Pre-Test

Students complete a pre-test, which includes a variety of questions. Based on their responses, the test identifies areas for the student to strengthen. These areas include: Attitude, Communication, Planning & Organizing, Critical Thinking, Interpersonal/Social Skills, Teamwork, Professionalism, Media Rules.


Modules

Modules address a variety of soft skills to help the student know how to navigate different work situations. The modules use written scenarios (complete with audio for read aloud), pictures, and VIDEOS.



Test

After each module the student takes a test. If they score high enough, then that module is considered achieved. If not, then they review the module again and retake the test.


Certificate

Once the student has completed all the predetermined modules and achieved a high enough test score, they earn a certificate. This serves as the final step to show that the student has worked through the curriculum.




You might want to consider using Conover Online’s Workplace Readiness to address soft skills in your life skills classroom.

Let me highlight my top 4 reasons

Representation

As transition age students, my young adults need to see themselves in materials. They need to see someone their age and look like them, which these videos do. They also want to see work environments they might actually work in, not degree-only type work settings, which these videos also do.



Individualized/Flexible

The pre-test automatically determines what modules will be assigned to the student (i.e. less teacher thinking and follow-up). Once the student logs in, they go right into the Workplace Readiness program and get a choice of which module to begin with.



Self-Paced

You can start a student using Conover at any point in the school year and they will work through the modules at their own pace. Students can start a module, work through part, pause, and come back to it a few days later. The student can work through the modules on their own or with a support staff member to help them talk through their thoughts.



Data

You can see when the student logged in, for how long, what they completed, and what % they earned on their pre-test and tests. This is helpful for general monitoring or to aid in staying on a timeline.



I’ve used the Workplace Readiness modules in my program with a variety of students for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Students who are sick/quarantined/isolated and unable to attend their in-person vocational experience

  • Students who are waiting for their site to be set-up (insurance, bussing, staffing, etc can all delay vocational sites from being ready on day 1)

  • Students who are struggling with soft skills in their current vocational setting

  • When a vocational site suddenly closes for a day (i.e. no power) and students are unable to go

  • Students who missed the bus/refuse to wear their uniform, but still need programming for a period of time

  • And the list goes on…



If you are looking for a way for your students to prepare to enter the workforce, to strengthen their soft skills, or to be a placeholder in their schedule, I suggest you checkout Conover Online’s Workplace Readiness Program.


*This post is not sponsored or affiliated with Conover Online. My school and I were not compensated in any way for this post. All thoughts are my own.


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