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Pathways to the Dream: Career Readiness in Elementary

  • Elementary
Jill Woodruff

It's been a fun and illuminating week for my elementary school as we spent five focused days promoting college readiness side by side with DiscoverU.  If your school is looking for any ideas on incorporating college into an elementary curriculum, look here and here! But as we all know, college isn't in everyone's future.  Although No Excuses University teaches that post-secondary education is the key for breaking the cycle of generational poverty, it is important to expose kids to all post-secondary options.

I'll be honest-- my tiny kindergarten babies know about college and university life vaguely.  But do they really understand about it on a deeper level? I'm guessing probably not! They know college is a place we go to in order to learn how to do a job we want to do one day, but most college talks have to be kept pretty basic.  That's why career readiness is also heavily promoted as another post-graduation option! It goes without saying that young kids can understand jobs and their roles in our community much more easily.

In fourth and fifth grade, students practice their research skills on a career of their choosing.  They work together to learn what kind of schooling is required for the job, as well as what kinds of character traits are preferred.

In conjunction with our social emotional curriculum, we teach character traits weekly to all students with the help of two Leadership Skills specialist teachers.  The students are constantly asked to evaluate their own natural character traits, in addition to working on developing new traits.  With this kind of teaching, students are asked to reflect on their future goals.  What kinds of leadership skills do you need for ________ job? Can we find jobs that play to our strengths? Can we work on skills we don't have already to prepare for the career we dream of?

Professional Sharing with Class

Our school has also been fortunate enough to have many members of the community be willing to come in and do presentations for kids.  It's critical to invite a variety of careers to speak so that kids can be exposed to different pathways.  The kindergarteners are always fascinated by the firefighters that come and tell the kids that to be a firefighter, it's important to be good at math and science, not only to be brave.  They enjoy hearing from local hair stylists who talk about going to Beauty School.  We had a dental assistant team come in and talk about their experience at technical school.  We even had a retired police officer come in and talk about how he became a cop without a college education (a very long time ago), and then decided to go back to college as an adult when his kids were older.

At our school, we live and breathe college and career readiness because we know these conversations and life plans aren't happening in every home.  Our students need to know that every adult at school is there to help them make a plan for their lives, whatever those lives may hold.  College and career readiness isn't "extra" on top of our curriculum.  It's simply the life blood that holds us together as a community which naturally weaves in to every area of our school. How does your school promote life after high school? Leave me a comment below!

  • College and Career Readiness
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