Albert Einstein said, “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.” Implementing a career development plan for students throughout a district might sound simple but can be quite complex. The larger the school district, the more complicated it can be, but with the right tools, simplicity in planning for teachers, counselors, and administrators is possible.
There are several challenges of supporting students in their career exploration at the district level, but fortunately, many tools are available to help.
Administrators are too far removed from the classroom day-to-day challenges.
This is always a challenge at the district level but is particularly acute when it comes to something as individualized as student career planning. Giving advice to students requires strong student-teacher relationships, and teachers must be able to share their firsthand knowledge with district leaders. This feedback loop must be responsive and systematic and truly allow district leaders to know how career development planning is going and what support teachers need.
Classroom teachers don’t have time to coordinate experiences with the industry.
Counselors and teachers must have district-level help to coordinate work-based learning experiences, such as job shadows, industry tours, and internships. By coordinating all the business and industry contacts in one place, teachers know where to go for support and companies know whom to engage. In large communities, multiple schools might be contacting the business, which is another advantage of coordination at a district level.
Teachers might have limited knowledge about career options.
Beyond a few exceptions, most teachers take the same path to the classroom: a college bachelor’s degree. This limits the experiences that they can share with their students when it comes to advising about post-secondary planning. District leaders can support teachers by providing resources to fill this gap. By using software like Choices360, teachers can learn about other career fields with their students. Career exploration software also ensures that every student has equitable access to the full array of careers as they research their post-secondary options.
Schools might be stuck in a cycle of outdated CTE pathway options.
Students tend to gravitate toward whatever elective options that a school has, regardless of their limitations. For example, many schools continue to offer the same “woodworking” class from fifty years ago, which might teach solid technical skills but does not directly prepare students for a career. It is up to the school to provide students with the opportunities that they need for the future, and this might require a data-driven approach to the future of work and the workforce. District leaders can support CTE Pathway alignment or realignment with Foundation for Teaching Economics and Perkins resources. The latest Perkins V grant requires a two-year needs assessment process that assists districts in this data collection and analysis. This plan should be shared with building leaders and teachers so they are included in the process of meeting the demands of the future workforce in their region.
Offer course opportunities based on student career interest.
Like the CTE Pathway analysis process, district-level staff can use Choices360 data to analyze the career interests and course alignment that students desire. This convergence of the jobs that students should be prepared for and their interests requires ongoing monitoring and evaluation. By analyzing this data, schools can create a more student-centered school setting. Courses that align with the student’s individual post-secondary plans can provide them with better experiences, which will increase engagement, attendance, and graduation rates.
By creating a process for a career development plan for students, district leaders can improve outcomes during high school and at the next post-secondary level, whatever that might be. But teachers need the support of time and professional learning, they need to have the right courses available for students, and they need contacts in the community to help support student learning. All this complexity can be funneled into a one-stop resource for teachers and districts to create a career development plan for students that is both accessible and systemic. Choices360 enables districts to create a simple plan for a complex process.
Here at XAP, we believe that exploration lays the foundation for planning. That’s why we help school and district counseling leaders implement equitable programs and strategies to ensure that students graduate high school not only with a diploma but also with a plan.
To see how we can help you better support your students and drive state, district, and school initiatives with greater ease, transparency, and data, feel free to contact our specialists today!