More and more school districts are implementing career exploration and postsecondary planning in middle school in a variety of ways. In our November 2020 webinar, we shared tips on how to incorporate college and career planning in middle school classrooms.
This month we were joined by Leslie Puckett, director of research and career awareness at Workforce Solutions Capital Area. We moderated a lively discussion, where we heard educators around the state discuss their questions and feedback on middle school college and career readiness. We also learned about best practices from Texas OnCourse educators. Watch the webinar recording below or continue reading for resources and highlights.
College and Career Exploration: Tips for Middle School Educators
Leslie kicked off the webinar with tips for getting middle school students on the right track with career exploration! She also provided many helpful classroom resources on building soft skills, increasing financial literacy, and more. When it comes to college and career planning in middle school, here are five things Leslie says to keep in mind:
- The earlier the better! Feed students’ curiosity. It’s never too early for middle school students to start exploring careers.
- Remember, “college” is anything beyond a high school diploma. This could mean an apprenticeship, certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or other higher ed opportunity. Keep the options open for your students!
- Seek career exploration tools from the Texas Workforce Commission or your local Workforce board. We highlight some of her favorites below.
- Ask local employers about the skills and certifications that they need their workers to have. Soft skills are often as important as what students learn in college!
- Your local workforce board can help by connecting parents and guardians with training, scholarship and employment opportunities.
Middle School College and Career Resources:
If you’re looking for additional resources for college and career exploration, first check out the College and Career Readiness in Middle School module in the Texas OnCourse Academy! In it you’ll find important information and downloadable resources including:
- A walkthrough of the Texas OnCourse College and Career Curriculum
- A breakdown of middle school TEKS
- Links and information about other helpful resources to get your students started early with college and career.
Find the module under Specialties > Middle School College and Career.
And check out this great list of resources from the Texas Workforce Commission and the Workforce Solutions Capital Area to use in your classroom:
- ClimbTheLadderCTX.com: A great website for career planning, with information pulled from the Texas Workforce Commission, Workforce Solutions Capital Area, the Texas Education Agency, and more in an easy-to-navigate format for students.
- Foundation High School Endorsement Bulletins: This series of bulletins takes a closer look at each endorsement area and connects those endorsement pathways to career opportunities.
- Texas Reality Check: This website helps students explore the type of lifestyle they want to lead. It covers regular expenses and helps determine which jobs will pay enough for a certain lifestyle.
- Texas Career Check: A quiz that helps students assess their career interests based on their personality and work preferences.
- Careers in the Military: Explore military occupations.
- Compare Occupations: Compare two occupations with each other.
- Compare Schools: Compare colleges based on different factors (cost, number of students, etc.)
- Workforce Solutions Capital Area on YouTube: Follow their channel for recorded webinars on career exploration, soft skills, financial literacy, resume building, and interview prep.
- Texas OnCourse College and Career Knowledge Assessment for Students: Assess the effectiveness of your middle school college and career instruction. With data from the study, you can better align future instruction with students’ most critical needs.
Best Practices for Engaging Students and Parents:
Melissa Veach, middle school college and career teacher in Calhoun County, and Trisha Frost, middle school counselor from Aransas County ISD, also joined us to share insights straight from their classrooms on engaging students and parents with career development. Here are some of their best practices:
- Make sure every student is getting the prep they need with a semester-long CCR course for eighth grade students.
- But don’t wait until then! Start teaching about careers and career clusters in sixth and seventh grade.
- The Texas OnCourse College and Career Curriculum is a great resource for middle school CCR teachers. It saves time and includes TEKS-mapped lesson plans and exercises.
- Set up a table with CCMR information at school events where you can easily reach parents and students.
- Host a high school transition parent bootcamp! Include monthly Zoom meetings for parents with all the information they need to make the big leap with their students.
There are other important tips and resources discussed in the webinar. Download Texas OnCourse’s College and Career Readiness Curriculum for more TEKS-driven resources for college and career readiness in middle school. The curriculum includes simple plug-and-play lesson plans for free.