With so many challenges facing students and educators, it is becoming more critical to stay true to the goal and avoid being distracted by the many perceived obstacles that get in our way. What is it that we really expect or want our students to walk away with when they graduate from a Saskatoon Public high school? The challenge to narrow the focus seems daunting at times for teachers but can you imagine how many of our students are feeling even more overwhelmed with the plethora of choices for them to consider? How do we create relevant opportunities for them to develop the necessary skills to work through or simply begin the journey of career development when in fact some adults will readily admit that “They are still work in progress” and are still trying to find their true purpose in life? For educators, are we willing to share our own experiences and the challenges we faced as a starting point in creating honest and meaningful conversations with students who are just beginning their journey? How can we best support students to own their future? The path to self-discovery is a life long learning adventure for many of us, and it just happens to be a cornerstone of Collegiate Renewal. Providing students with the skills and opportunities to use and create knowledge for themselves and others needs to be a part of any curricula. Staying true to two of our key goals of making learning relevant and engaging for all stakeholders seems to be a nice comfortable fit with career education, yet career infusion is a challenge that needs to include all educators in any given building. Sharing successes and a wealth of varied experiences allows young learners to ask pertinent questions to find out more about their own learning. Getting students authentically involved in learning means they are able to make career connection from the classroom curriculum to the boardroom, the construction site, the emergency ward or to wherever a student can make the personal connection for him/herself. So what should we be emphasizing in our career education developmental plans?
From NATCON 2006, the focus suggests the need for considerable supports for students to allow them to begin a lifelong journey of developing and learning career management competencies that will create more resiliency in our students; this includes making healthier choices, thus, creating the capacity to find the work they love in a world of constant change. This is done alongside with the challenge of maintaining a positive life- work balance as well. Wow! This is an admirable vision but how do we narrow the plan into a workable four year graduation plan as is being currently touted by the Ministry of Learning in Regina? The self-exploration piece is critical, focusing on ” Who are you?” and ” What can you be now?” Inventories of all kinds, personality, multiple intelligences, career focused and learning styles to name a few, are critical and cannot be underestimated in value as they are safe activities inviting further growth and deeper thought. This should naturally lead to the next puzzle piece of self-examination, ” What are your assets – special skills, abilities, talents or gifts?” This focus is followed by two more pieces of inquiry that guide the student to look ahead to outside factors, ” Who needs what you love to do?” and finally to the biggest challenge of all, ” What will success look/feel like?”
How do we make this happen in our high schools? The idea of in-depth career counselling is clearly the best way to initiate one on one facilitation for students but with the many other duties that our dedicated career facilitators manage everyday, this seems to be unreasonable because there just is not enough time to manage all the expectations we have created for them.. This model of intense career counselling has been in place at Nutana for many years and has been very successful meeting the needs of the very diverse student population that makes up Nutana Collegiate. Having been part of the career facilitation team at Nutana Collegiate for my last two years of teaching, I cannot emphasize the incredible, positive impact this designated time had on students. Students received the one on one time they needed to focus planning and make informed decisions about their future. Furthermore, data collected from a career survey I did with the career facilitator from Marion Graham supports the trend that students really need more career planning time while in high school, whether that may be post secondary planning or gaining some competency in financial literacy. The need is clearly there and the requests are constant, yet this needs to be a shared commitment from all staff in the building if we are to make this work. The plan is in motion, and we await word from the Ministry for specifics about the Grade Nine Graduation Plan. Again, this leads to the age old question, ” Remind me again, what is it that really matters?” As always your feedback is welcome!