I think it is fair to say that most teachers realize they inspire the future work force. Still, they can be so focused on their class curriculum, that they overlook the bigger picture of preparing students for college and career readiness. There are several steps an administrator can take to inspire teachers to support students as they begin to think about their future.
Often high school teachers understand their contribution to the college and career outlook, however, students as young as 4th grade are ready to start exploring options. Administrators can encourage upper elementary and middle school teachers, as well as those in high school, to equip students with information through reading and assignments that help students explore a variety of career paths.
Many students understand the familiar career paths such as education, medicine, and emergency services, but they need to be introduced to other fields as well. High school administrators can equip students with the skills and knowledge for career readiness by offering programs such as automotive technology, architectural design, building trades, cosmetology, and engineering.
Allow Students to Change Their Mind
Administrators can also encourage teachers and counselors to listen to students and allow them to change their minds. Many districts are offering a career path option for high school so that those interested in medicine can take preparatory classes, while those interested in trade school courses can follow a different path. It is important to have teachers assess their students regularly to determine if these selected courses are still of interest to the students. The intent should be to introduce students to the field, and then if they determine this is not what they want to do in their career, allow them to explore a new path.
Teach Soft Skills
In order to prepare students for the workforce, there are so many skills above and beyond curriculum standards that need to be taught. Administrators can ask teachers to incorporate these in their daily routines. These are skills like public speaking, looking someone in the eyes as they talk, shaking hands and holding their body with confidence, completing work in a timely manner, and accepting constructive criticism. In addition, administrators can evaluate teachers on their rigorous instruction and high expectations so that students are used to working at their highest potential, which will carry over to their career.
Allow Career Exploration
Finally, the administrator can encourage teachers to foster the development of career readiness by allowing field trips and community visits. A career fair is a great way to promote the exploration of the variety of jobs available, but don’t stop there. Encourage teachers to take students on trips to universities and workplaces. In addition, there are computer-based programs that help students determine their best placement, so administrators can provide access to such sites and programs.
It is most important that teachers understand their ability to influence students’ choice. Administrators need to stress that all careers should be promoted positively. Students should not be discouraged in their quest, but rather encouraged to pursue their chosen path.