Making career exploration fun and relevant for middle school students: why it matters.

In accordance with the State of Texas House Bill 5 (HB5), which states that students must be exposed to career pathways in order to help them choose a high school endorsement path during their high school years, the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD implemented a seventh grade Skills for Success class.

For the last three years, I have taught the Skills for Success class (a district requirement for seventh graders), which incorporates the use of Kuder Navigator® to support students’ education and career exploration and planning.

The district had set up the particular lessons to be done in a workbook format. At the end of the lessons, the students are required to do a group PowerPoint on a career that they have chosen.

When I first began teaching the class, I knew that if I just allowed the students to team up randomly, issues would arise. I also didn’t want to bore the students or myself with hearing about the same job over and over again.

How to make it work for you and your students.

One of the first things that I have my students do in Navigator is take the Kuder Career Interests Assessment® and the Kuder Skills Confidence Assessment®.

I take the students first and second pathways suggested by the career interest assessment results and write them down. Then I group the students based on similar pathways. From there, I use a handout that lists the National Career Clusters® that are listed in O*NET as well as sample job titles within each cluster.

The last component is that no two students in the same group can have the same job. Students are given one day each week to work as a group.

I also have them sit as a group because I know that as they are trying to find information, it makes more sense for them to help one another, as someone in the group would have an idea of where to locate that specific career information.

What do I want to be when I grow up?

One of the lessons directs the students to look up colleges. I tell them that they need to figure out where they are going to learn how to enter whatever the career field that they have chosen. This becomes a true eye opener for students.

I work in a district where most parents have degrees or a skilled trade making very good money. So these students are looking to do the same. But the reality of how long it will take and how much it will cost was a complete mystery to them. It’s this level of research that served the most value.

For example, let’s just take teaching. Some students have no idea that you have to pick a grade and subject matter. Some just think it’s as simple as getting a degree in teaching. They don’t realize that once you pick a grade and discipline, you still have to do student teaching or internships and take and pass certification exams.

So having them actually sit down and discover this really expands the use of Navigator and the knowledge that students are able to gain from it.

Preparation for the future.

The last thing I’ve added to the assignment is a way to allow students who do not want to present in front of the class to still earn a 100. With the business certification and degrees that I have, I know the importance of professional dress.

Once training and degrees have been earned, students still have to go and get the job. In a world of casualness, many have forgotten to teach kids about professional dress. It’s not just looking nice for church or a wedding, and it surely isn’t what you would wear to prom. So I explain and provide examples of what professional dress is.

I ensure that the students are crystal clear that this is extra credit, that no one is required to go buy anything based on saying “Ms. Keith said I had to,” and that I am the judge and jury.

Any kid making an attempt to dress nicer than they normally do gets extra points, but only those who dress in professional clothes are awarded the extra ten points.

Doing it right the first time.

As a business education teacher, I created a template that students can use and print the template slides in their packets for reference on how to build the presentation.

As I go over the template I also explain that they are preparing presentations, not book reports. I emphasize that I don’t want slides riddled with tons of information.

Students are allowed to use PowerPoint, Google Docs, Prezi, or any other presentation software.

The end results show that students are learning a lot about what they potentially would like to become and gaining an understanding of how what they do now affects not only their high school careers, but their potential life career and choices.

About the author.

makeisha keith

Dr. Makisha Keith is a business education teacher at Corbett Junior High School in Schertz, Texas. Now in her ninth year working in the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District, Dr. Keith is a certified EC-12 Principal in Texas, and is certified in 6-12 business education in Texas and Mississippi. She holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in organizational management, and a doctoral degree in educational administration. Prior to joining the faculty at Corbett, Dr. Keith was a business education teacher and cheer coach at San Marcos High school. She began her career in the banking industry.