This is the fifth article in the “Creating the Classroom of Your Dreams” series. This series will uncover a multitude of concepts for teachers to implement that will create a well-functioning, parent-inclusive classroom. Check out all articles in this blog series HERE.
Have you ever had a student stop your lesson and ask, “Why do we need to know this? When am I ever going to use this again?”
We can no longer expect that our students will come to us and just want to learn because we have things to teach them, we must demonstrate relevance to our students in order for them to gain an understanding of why they should be motivated to learn. Career days aren’t just for high school or college; career exploration connects the purpose of a college degree. As a college preparatory school, we must be focused on raising awareness of the importance of college and advanced training opportunities as they relate to a career field.
As an administrator of a Montessori school that serves students in preschool through eighth grade, we value community, whether that community is as small as our classroom or as big as our global impact.
For the month of October, we have a focus on careers, at all age levels.
- Our younger students spend time learning about community helpers by having guests like nurses, police officers, and firefighters come in, they learn how careers help and serve their community.
- Students in upper elementary research famous people in our history and learn about their contributions to our world.
- Middle school students spend time doing career inventories where they learn to recognize their interests, skills, and goals. They then use this and research colleges that offer programs that match up with their inventory results. From here, students work with their teacher to develop career goal plans that include a series of goals for the coming years. A culminating activity is a trip to a college where they meet with admissions and tour the facilities to learn more about the college experience and what steps will need to be taken to attend the particular college visited.
While the middle school students visit a college in October, all of our other classes visit a college as well, but at different times of the year.
What is important about these visits is adapting them for your audience. Our kindergarten attends a program that is held on the campus of a local community college and they are getting the opportunity to see a college and hear their teacher talking to them about what opportunities are available there. Lower elementary also works with a local two or four-year college to bring the experience to their level and they spend time in a classroom on campus. The upper elementary has a visit similar to the middle schools, but they visit a smaller four-year program school.
Planning Career Days, Fairs and Carnivals at Your School
Career days, fairs, and carnivals can offer different formats so it’s important to consider your students and their attention span to make the time meaningful for them. Career days involve speakers talking to students about their career, which we advise for younger students all the way to high school students. Career fairs, on the other hand, are intended for the upper elementary students and older. Here, students go from booth to booth and talk with professionals about their careers. They have the choice to visit the booths that interest them. Careful planning and preparation must occur to make the event meaningful. The use of career interest inventories will help those scheduling visits from fields that students have already expressed interest in as well as others that may relate to interests. Career or college carnivals are more geared toward upper elementary all the way up to high school students and may require the most preparation, but can be a great way to engage even the youngest students with activities that support learning more about college or careers.
We must listen to our students and develop their interests into passions to help give them purpose. Career development is a lifelong process through which we help our students understand themselves and how they fit into the world of work and what role it will play in their future.
Whatever path you choose for your students, know that it is never too early to expose them to future career opportunities and plans on how to get there.
Ali DuBois is the Head of School at Muskegon Montessori Academy for Environmental Change. She has degrees/certifications from Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University. She is a certified elementary and secondary teacher, with 17 years of experience in education. Ali knew at an early age that she wanted to be an educator, she was influenced by a teacher that challenged her through the practice of differentiated instruction. All students do not learn the same way or are ready at the same time, so Ali and her team work endlessly to provide unique and individualized learning experiences for all students.