ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION®
One of the most eye-opening and rewarding experiences I’ve had so far as an assistant principal in the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS) was when we conducted a district-wide professional development event for all our schools’ faculty and home office administration. We are a district of 17 high schools across the state of Connecticut with one home office. We service approximately 11,200 students and employ over 1,000 teachers and pupil personnel, in addition to each building’s administrative team and our home office staff. So, gathering all those professionals together in one place for an organized professional development event is no small feat. However, our district performed the task with flying colors, and on November 3rd of 2015 all of CTHSS was gathered at the XL Convention Center in Hartford, CT for what would be an informative, inspiring, and collegial PD opportunity.
In remembering this event, however, I do not recall the name of the motivational speaker who addressed us, or even the many titles and topics of the PD courses that I attended or that were being offered. I remember it was all extremely high-quality, and I know there were many takeaways, but those are not the highlights of the day that stuck out to me. Instead, what I remember most are the displays and showcases that each school had created. Before the PD, our superintendent Dr. Nivea Torres asked each school to compile artifacts from their different Career Technology departments and create a showcase booth whereby the rest of the districts’ faculty could view and get a sense of each school. At the time, I worked at Platt Tech in Milford, CT and I was put in charge of this great task. I went around to all our career technologies and asked each instructor and their students to provide an artifact that speaks to what they do and who they are. The first response I got from everyone was, “Just ONE artifact??” And even though I knew it would be impossible for each shop to capture its essence is just one artifact, I knew I had limited space with which to work, so my reply was, “Yes, and make it good!”
It was an honor to collect these artifacts and display them at Platt’s booth on the day of the district-wide PD. However, what was even more inspiring was being able to walk around and view all the other schools and their booths and to see what other students and career technologies around the district were doing. It was truly awesome to see all the “cool” things that CTHSS students were doing: building robots, designing web layouts, manufacturing items, 3D printing, creating TV shows, building electrical circuits, building houses, installing HVAC and plumbing into residences, fixing and maintaining automobiles, styling hair and performing cosmetology, creating blueprints, printing materials….the list is truly endless. And all this was captured at our district-wide PD; it was beyond inspiring.
The memory that stuck with me the most was the moment I saw Abbott Tech’s display (one of Platt’s regional sister schools) and thinking to myself, “Wow, that school really has it going on.” Their display was the best of them all, and it placed top among the 17 schools. I said to myself on that day that I’d be proud to be a part of the Abbott family, and just a short year later, I was lucky enough to find myself among them.
CTE schools should take every opportunity to showcase themselves, display student work, and come together as a family to share practices, technologies, and artifacts. We all have so much to learn from one another, and I give a lot of credit to our CT district for coming together and celebrating the work we do on behalf of our industries and our students.
Submitted by Ms. Jayme Beckham, Assistant Principal at Henry Abbott Technical High School, Danbury, CT
Posted by Educators in Action at 10:23 AM in Celebrating CTE | Permalink
As I reflect on my teaching career as a Marketing Education and DECA Advisor for the past six years at North High School in Akron, Ohio, I consider my DRIVE for Career Technical Education (CTE) and how it got me where I am today. As a former human resources executive in the automotive industry, I often tend to have an automotive pathway mindset.
D = Decision
R = Routine
I = Information
V = Vision
E = Everything
So let's begin the journey. Seven years ago, I made a DECISION to become a substitute teacher with Akron Public Schools (APS). This was not the most glamorous position, but I had a passion for helping young people become career-ready. This one decision led to a full-time employment opportunity as a replacement for a retiring Marketing Education and DECA Advisor at North High School.
As I developed a ROUTINE for teaching my subject matter on a daily basis along with taking CTE courses at Kent State University, I gained the necessary competencies to be successful in the classroom. Students learn best in CTE through a hands-on approach that gives them opportunities to implement what they learn; the same was true for me in perfecting my new teaching career. I had to routinely implement the instructional strategies I learned from my professors in the classroom, which are critical for a new teacher to adapt early on.
The INFORMATION gained from my teacher-mentor and State/National ACTE conferences would propel my teaching competencies to another level. The information I learned from attending various workshops at state and national ACTE conferences was vital in my development as a new CTE teacher. At these conferences, you learn best practices from some of the best CTE instructors in the world. Without these opportunities to develop, I would not be the teacher that I am today.
When I began working at APS as a substitute teacher, I had a VISION of being a successful teacher and a strong desire to make our leadership team proud of my work. We call it being ‘APS Proud’! I gave my new career EVERYTHING I had. As a result of my passion to prepare students to be career- and postsecondary-ready, I have been rewarded in so many ways. The ultimate achievement for me thus far was being invited to the White House by President Obama on May 3, 2016 to be recognized as the National 2015 ACTE New Teacher of the Year.
As I further reflect on the 100 year anniversary of the Smith-Hughes Act, adopted in 1917 for vocational education in agricultural, industrial trades and home economics, I am thankful for the pioneers who have gone before us and the DRIVE that they had to pave the way.
Eric Mathews at a White House event held in conjunction with Teacher Appreciation Week 2016 to honor great educators from across the country.
Eric Mathews 2015 ACTE New Teacher of the Year Marketing Education Instructor & DECA Advisor North High School Akron, OH
Posted by Educators in Action at 02:07 PM in Celebrating CTE | Permalink
“Career and Technical Education (CTE) is for students who aren’t college-bound.”
“CTE isn’t really education, it’s job training.”
“CTE is training for entry-level job skills, not for post-secondary education.”
The list of misperceptions could continue to go on - and we all have heard them.
In an educational world in which college and career readiness is at the forefront of determining the success of not only students, but also school districts as a whole, I am here to tell you that CTE is at the HEART of preparing young minds to be college and career ready. Despite the multitude of misperceptions and myths, it is through intentional, career-focused program development that CTE can offer the 21st century student a jump start towards his/her future like no other educational initiative around today.
In order for CTE buildings to truly capture the power behind helping students prepare for their post-secondary plans, it is essential that college and career readiness is approached using a systemic, data-driven program that is student-centered and is grounded on the concept of equity and access for ALL students. When this systemic approach is done accurately, a culture and climate of college/career readiness begins to develop so that helping students successfully navigate their future career goals becomes the standard mode of operation for everyone involved.
Opportunities are constantly being created in CTE to put today’s students in a position to get a head start on their college and career preparation. This preparation emphasizes all aspects of student success because the technical skills are just as important to understand as the soft skills, and the resume-building is just as an important first step as the interview preparation, and the experience that comes with on-the-job training is just as important as the network that is developed through these experiences. Again, the list could go on and on.
Through a CTE college/career readiness approach we have students who will graduate high school with college credits and/or degrees. We have students who will earn certifications that will allow them to instantly be employed so they can work while attending college classes. We have students who will gain real-life experiences through work-based opportunities that will develop their network and appreciation for their future profession. These are just some of the educational trends that will have the biggest impact on 21st century students.
The opportunities that CTE can now offer students has changed the face of education. Seniors are graduating high school with degrees, certifications and experiences that are going to better prepare them for their post-secondary plans because they have already started developing their career paths with potentially less debt, and more experience. By offering these opportunities, many students who once felt as though they were not college material come to realize that they are capable of earning a college certification or degree. This change in mindset is just the beginning of how 21st century students will begin to view, and approach, education differently.
Terri Tchorzynski2017 National School Counselor of the YearCalhoun Area Career CenterBattle Creek, MI
Posted by Educators in Action at 09:22 AM | Permalink
As the successor to No Child Left Behind begins its march through public education, it will create many ways for “real-world” skills to be integrated into all classrooms. The Every Students Succeeds Act, better known as ‘ESSA,’ provides opportunity for classrooms to incorporate 21st century skills into the daily curriculum. Doing so will help create more robust and workplace-proficient students, and it is a welcome academic reform.
With such a push to integrate 21st century skills in the classroom, some teachers might feel that they must change what they teach to accomplish this goal. I argue that they simply need to look to where the content they teach will ultimately take a student, and use industry’s approaches to those skills to find the best way to guide learning. This could be accomplished by reaching out to local businesses or CTE teachers to see how the performance of the ‘4 Cs’ are measured by employers. The ‘4 (or 5) Cs’ of 21st century skills are creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration (with the addition of culture, connectivity or climate often making an appearance.)
The education and business worlds are constantly trying to reinvent themselves to gain traction in some direction. The major difference between the two worlds is that businesses aim to succeed financially for their stakeholders’ gain and education institutions are measured by the academic success of their students. There is a shift taking place in many school districts across the nation in which student academic success is directly aligned -through business partnerships, advisory boards, business councils and chambers of commerce - to financial outcomes for cities or regions.
In the years to come, look for more businesses to be a part of meetings about curriculum development, project-based learning experiences, teacher externships and CTE class integration into school systems. They realize the power in creating a pipeline for impassioned students who have the skills that would be most beneficial outside of academia.
This shift will be the driving force forward for teachers who search for how to use the Cs of 21st century skills in their classrooms.
By Adam Guidry, Lead TeacherAcademy of Environmental and Urban PlanningGlencliff High School, Nashville, TN
Posted by Educators in Action at 01:36 PM | Permalink
The best way educators in CTE fields can demonstrate career connections to students in/outside the classroom is to get students to industry and industry to students. Instructors need to provide job shadowing opportunities to CTE students, and business owners/employees need to be solicited by instructors to come in and be visible in the shops and classrooms. Networking needs to be strong in terms of internships and work-based learning opportunities that are offered to students. By actually connecting our students with real, tangible opportunities in their chosen fields, we demonstrate career connections in real time, allowing students to explore, build, decide, and experience.
Employability and marketability – those are the two next big trends in college and career readiness, and our 21st century learners, whether they are college bound or career bound, will benefit immensely by being well versed in both. Students need to be employable, not just in terms of their trade-related skill set, but also in terms of the intangibles like work ethic, punctuality, professionalism, and workplace etiquette. Students also need to be marketable, both applying to colleges and applying to jobs, because the applicant pool is stronger now in the 21st century more than ever. Thousands of applicants all share the same admirable resume fluff – community service, computer proficiency, strong GPAs – and the question the students need to ask themselves is: what makes you more marketable than your competition vying for the same spot you are? What sets you apart? My advice: start early and build a professional portfolio that highlights what you can actually produce, not just who you are on paper.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do career-wise until my second semester of my freshman year in college. Truth be told, I went to college to play basketball on scholarship, not to figure out what career I’d have afterwards; heck, I didn’t even like school, but it was my vehicle to college hoops. I realized what I wanted to do when one of my English/Poetry professors pointed out that I was linguistically skilled and should pursue a literature degree (who, me?? I didn’t even like to read). I realized that up to that point I had been so athletic and sports minded, that I completely overlooked the gift I had with the English language. So, I took the two things I knew best: Coaching/athletics, and English, and I landed on teaching/education. Ten plus years later, I sit as one of the youngest High School Assistant Principals in the state of Connecticut, all because an instructor dared to pull out of me what I had failed for years to pull out of myself. The takeaway is this – don’t pigeonhole yourself into a single definition or a single talent. View yourself as a multitude in and of itself, a myriad skillset with talent that is forever untapped. Listen to those around you – your coaches, peers, instructors, friends and parents – listen to what they see in you, and capitalize on what you already know. The combination is a winning mentality that only results in success.
Jayme BeckhamAssistant PrincipalHenry Abbott Technical High SchoolDanbury, CT 06811
Posted by Educators in Action at 11:00 AM | Permalink
The 2014 Minnesota Legislature adopted language requiring Minnesota school districts to assist all students no later than grade nine to develop a Personal Learning Plan leading to a “smooth and successful transition to postsecondary education or employment.” Recognizing that many teaching professionals are not well equipped to provide learners with guidance about the opportunities available across the career spectrum, the Advancing Career Development project provided a way to introduce a cadre of teaching/counseling professionals to career knowledge through guided work-site experiences so that they could help other education professionals and students to understand the breadth of career opportunities available. The project recognized Minnesota’s Perkins consortia, a unique-in-the-nation structure of secondary schools and 2-year postsecondary institutions, as an appropriate vehicle to give leadership to this effort. Minnesota’s Perkins consortia, in collaboration with state leadership, have developed excellent tools to help guide career development of secondary learners, including the Minnesota Clusters & Pathways Framework (the career wheel) that organizes careers into a structure of six career fields, sixteen career clusters and seventy-nine career pathways; the spectrum of work-based learning opportunities that diagrams the variety of worksite learning experiences ranging from field trips to youth apprenticeships; and other planning tools to assist in the implementation of the Personal Learning Plan legislation.
The Advancing Career Development project provided work-site experiences for groups of career and technical education (CTE) teachers and counselors from each of three Perkins consortia to improve the education professionals’ understanding of opportunities for future careers so that they may provide better guidance to students in their preparation of Personal Learning Plans. Participating teachers/counselors took part in professional development around implementation of the personal learning plan legislation, the career development spectrum, the six career fields, and an array of postsecondary/certificate options, followed by site visits of regional business/industries representing the six career fields.
Teachers/counselors were selected by the leadership of three participating Perkins consortia. Participating teachers were teachers of career and technical education for, while these individuals hold knowledge of careers within their own fields of expertise and also generally understand all aspects of the industry for which they are preparing students, they sometimes lack the broader understanding of careers across the six career fields. The training provided helped them to be able to transfer their knowledge of all aspects of industry to multiple industry sectors. Participating counselors have a solid background in the career development process, but may lack information about the world of work outside of education. Teachers/counselors participated in an introductory session pertaining to the personal learning plan requirement, career development spectrum and career fields held at a union training facility; at least five visits to business/industry settings (one for each career field: agriculture, food, and natural resources; arts, communications and information systems; engineering, manufacturing and technology; health science; human services; business, management and administration), and a follow-up session to guide development of a local implementation plan. A full day was required for the initial session, while other sessions were generally for a half-day with participants completing additional assignments on their own time.
A website was developed to contain necessary materials for the project as well as be a repository for assignments completed by participants. The website held background information on the project as well as the sponsoring organizations – the Citizens League of Minnesota and the Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation; held career development materials and information on the state’s career fields; gave links to career videos and other useful documents; gave information about the guiding state statute and other pertinent legislation; held information on experiential learning and the spectrum of work-based learning opportunities; and held all instructional materials used within the project for participant review. Business/industry partners were also surveyed to gauge their satisfaction with the activity.
Daniel Smith, CTE Consultant, Retired from the Minnesota Department of Education
I am passionate about giving students an opportunity to learn about a career before they pursue it. Students need opportunities to see, feel, hear and touch a career. Opportunities such as field trips, job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships are instrumental to career investigation and exploration. I would like to share my journey and the reason that I have become so zealous.
The summer before my freshman school year, I broke my arm at camp. I was taken to the hospital and had my arm x-rayed and casted. That became the first step in pursing my career choice of radiologic technology. My parents asked me two important questions: 1) What is the salary? And 2) Are there jobs available? I felt quite confident that I would be able to find a job and make an adequate salary in this career field.
I was so excited when I was accepted into the X-Ray program at McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas. Many of my friends inquired, “Why aren’t you pursing nursing?” I informed them that “I did not want a job that required giving shots or enemas.” Unfortunately, without researching this chosen career, I found out that the two main exams of an X-ray tech were IVPs (shots) and barium enemas. I was now going to do the two things that I did not want to do as a nurse. Boy, it would have been so helpful to spend time observing at a hospital to learn more about my chosen field of study.
After completing a year in the radiologic technology program, I accepted defeat and withdrew from my studies. Now what? I decided to review the career interest inventory that I took in high school. This inventory basically told me that I had no interest in health careers. My focus should be on business, management, education and training. I refocused my energy to focus on business management and to eventually become a business teacher.
I truly love my profession. I have owned my own business, been a teacher, a counselor, a school-to-work coordinator, career counselor and now an education specialist for CTE and College and Career Readiness. I want students to have every opportunity to pursue their passions and gain the real world experiences that will help them find a career that they love. Learning what you don’t like is as powerful as discovering what you do.
Christine HolecekRegion IV, VP (elect)Education Service Center Region 12Education Specialist, CTE and College & Career Readiness
My name is Courtney Benjamin and I teach Automotive Technology to high school seniors at Broome-Tioga BOCES in Binghamton, NY. Some people reading my name and job title in text assume that I am a man; I get a lot of “Dear Mr. Benjamin” emails! I am indeed a woman and I have embraced a gender non-traditional technical field since I was a CTE student myself in high school in the very same program that I now teach.
Since high school I have earned a BS Degree in Automotive Technology and an MS Degree in Education and have also worked at various levels of the automotive industry ranging from service technician to manufacturer’s rep. My interest in CTE/STEM and education does not stop there: I am currently a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Theory and Practice at the State University of New York at Binghamton. My dissertation is probing postsecondary schooling and labor market outcomes for students that were CTE concentrators in high school using a nationally representative data set. I am also looking at outcomes for students that were involved in work-based learning programs.
Much to the credit of the technical knowledge that I have amassed through my experiences as a CTE student and teacher, I have managed to teach myself to script a complex statistical programming language called ‘R’ to quantitatively analyze this complex survey data about CTE student outcomes. In my opinion, one of the most effective ways to involve more gender non-traditional students in CTE and STEM is to showcase successful gender non-traditional teachers and industry professionals as well as provide related mentorship opportunities for students in middle school and elementary school.
We also need to focus on changing societal perceptions of traditional gender roles as the family exerts the greatest influence over the career path of students. Another aspect of teaching CTE and STEM that I feel is critically important to student outcomes is work-based learning. My Automotive Technology program is located at Gault Toyota, a local car dealership. There is no way to match real-world learning and experiences students get through work-based learning, especially the affective skills. We need to get more aspects of CTE programs located in actual work settings.
Automotive Technology II Teacher
Located at Gault Toyota
Doctoral Candidate-Educational Theory & Practice
State University of New York at Binghamton
Posted by Educators in Action at 12:02 PM | Permalink
There are many aspects of my job that I truly enjoy. One is that I get to help adult students that are trying hard to better their positions in life. I frequently receive calls from potential students asking for assistance. The vast majority of them have either been recently laid off from their lifelong positions or have experienced a life-changing event; some are misplaced homemakers or are underemployed and seeking advice to improve their positions in life and better care for their families.
These folks are intrinsically motivated to learn a new skill or add to their knowledge base by improving their ability to qualify for a better or new career. Providing career advice becomes a critical and big part of my job. Fortunately, Tulsa Tech has several resources available to assist adults and full-time students in determining their path to success.
I often begin by referring students to our career center for support, where they are able to do career interest testing. This helps then determine where their skills and aptitudes are, and from there, they can discover the careers that utilize their talents and interests. Together, we can then discuss training and certification programs that are available and build an ideal career path. Together, we can find a program that best meets their needs, whether it’s a full time program or a short-term evening program or an online training that can lead to a certification or licensure.
Tulsa Tech recently unveiled a renovated service called www.HireTulsaTechgrads.com, which provides a direct connection from students to companies that are hiring and, vice-versa, for employers to find skilled labor from our program completers and graduates. This enhances our region’s workforce by connecting students and employers, assuring a well-trained workforce that boosts our overall economic position.
Additionally, we hold frequent job fairs on our campuses, again to directly link business and industry to our students. We may not provide “job placements” but we do one heck of a job providing the linkages necessary for our students to succeed in work, education and in life!
Karen Gutenkauf2016 OK ACTE PACE Fellow
Posted by Educators in Action at 11:00 AM in College and Career Readiness | Permalink
It’s been said that Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player ever, never won a championship until Phil Jackson came along. Muhammad Ali was a raw fighter when Angelo Dundee entered the picture and made him into a world champion and arguably, the greatest fighter of all time. What both of these two mega-stars had that many of us struggle to find is a great MENTOR. Mentors are absolutely crucial to your success or failure in your chosen career.
I love the game of golf and although I am nothing more than a duffer, it is a wonderful metaphor for life. You see, in golf you can get immediate and, many times brutal, feedback. As soon as the ball leaves your club, you know if you hit it good, or if it was horrible. What if we had that same feedback in life? Actually, we do, if you know where to look. It is called a good mentor. Mentors are ones who can see in us what we cannot see in ourselves. We are not the best judge of our abilities. We tend to have blind spots. Having a great mentor allows us to evaluate our skills and to see our blind spots in hopes of offering us a plan for improvement.
During my career, I have sought mentors many times. I was always taught the value of mentorship from an early age. I have learned that whatever your responsibilities, you can learn from those with more experience. When I was a young police officer, I sponged as much knowledge from the more veteran officers as I could. I saw how they were able to handle people with their communication skills. I saw how they comforted the weak and the young and bought groceries or gas for those who were less fortunate…and never wanted to be recognized. As I started to grow into my own as a leader, I surrounded myself with people who were always smarter than me. I figured, if I hung around people who were smarter or better leaders, I would see how they handle things and dealt with the stresses of everyday life. I read one time a quote that said, “Mentors are not there to make us happy. They are there to guide us to the best of their knowledge.”
Before looking for a leadership mentor, you need to understand how to use them to grow. You need to have figured out your leadership needs. Once you know your goals, you can make the most of the time with your mentor. However, we must also be open to changing our goals as we uncover more opportunities for growth. To end with another golf analogy, golf looks really easy, after all it is just hitting a round ball, which is sitting perfectly still, with a big stick. Life is exactly the same way. We tend to make things much more difficult than they really are. After all, everyone else is doing it and it looks so simple. But, to be truly successful like the pros, we need someone to teach and coach us along the way.
Rich FlotronRegion III Leadership Fellow
Posted by Educators in Action at 11:00 AM in Professional Development | Permalink
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