By: Bianca Buliga, Digital Marketing Manager
Are schools graduating the doers, makers, and cutting-edge thinkers that the world needs?
Schools nationwide are innovating their classrooms through teamwork, personalized learning, and integrating science with the arts. However, some education thought leaders like P21 believe the key to preparing students for the future workplace is cultivating their entrepreneurial mindset – an approach that values “initiative, intelligent risk-taking, collaboration, and opportunity recognition”.
Let’s encourage students to move beyond being good employees and towards being creative entrepreneurs by equipping them with the 21st century skills necessary to solve society’s most pressing problems. If you’re a teacher, here are three strategies you can easily use in your classroom to instill entrepreneurship skills like problem-solving and risk-taking in your students:
Encourage Students to Think Like Entrepreneurs
The founder of Customer Development and Lean Startup methodology, Steve Blank, insists teachers should encourage students to think like entrepreneurs by first ideating and then testing the validity of that idea – the intention being to highlight that not all ideas are businesses.
Ideating and testing creates space for students to poke holes in their ideas by interviewing potential customers, receiving feedback from their peers and mentors, and ultimately “failing” a few times before transforming their ideas into viable business ventures. During this process, a teacher’s role is not to provide answers, but to ask questions and to encourage critical thinking.
Actionable Tip: Host brainstorm-oriented “Genius Hours”, assign research-based passion projects, or facilitate activities where students role-play being entrepreneurs and their potential customers.
Bring Entrepreneurs into the Classroom
Most high school students get the opportunity to interact with doctors, firefighters, and lawyers – but how many get the chance to sit down with a real-life entrepreneur who started their own business from scratch?
Inviting entrepreneurs into the classroom gives them an influential platform to share their ‘why’, their moments of falling short and pivoting, and their remarkable stories of success. These conversations encourage introspection, and push students to contemplate the social problems that irk them, the strengths that can help them develop a solution, and the legacy they want to leave behind. Teaching students to live intentionally will gift them with a lifelong purpose of working hard to improve the lives of people around them.
Actionable Tip: Reach out to local incubators and accelerators to invite a local business founder to speak to your class for an hour, followed by a Q&A session. If you’re able, plan several interactions throughout the year to showcase a wide range of industries!
Teach the Art of the Pitch
Usually structured as a three-minute elevator speech, a pitch is a short opener that explains what your company does, why it’s unique, and how it serves your customers. Pitch practice prepares students to tell stories in an engaging manner, find common ground with their listener, and present confidently in front of a large audience.
A student’s first pitch can oftentimes be their first time exploring their personal brand – it prepares them to articulately introduce themselves, their business idea, and the problem it solves. Whether they’re presenting to their peers, their families, or a potential investor, a strong pitch teaches students to be succinct, professional, and to think on their feet – all skills that they will use for years to come.
Actionable Tip: Set up a pitch competition for your students. Lead them through problem identification, market research, customer discovery, and pitch practice, and give them the opportunity to present their solutions with their peers. You’ll be inspired by their work!
Today’s graduates need to be critical thinkers, problem-solvers and effective communicators who are proficient in both core subjects and new, 21st century content and skills. These three tips can help support the creativity, curiosity, and risk-taking of entrepreneurial students in your classroom. What steps will you take today to prepare your students for the future?
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