High school work-based learning.
a plan to make sure that students in special education in high school learn the skills they need to confidently enter the workforce.
As a special education teacher, I have one objective: to assist students in acquiring the knowledge and abilities necessary for independence and fulfillment in adulthood. After teaching middle school for more than a decade, I decided to move up to high school and specialize in work-based learning to help my students succeed throughout their lives.
Because it encourages students to work on real-world tasks that will assist them in obtaining employment, work-based learning is the intersection of project-based learning and social and emotional learning. The element of social and emotional learning? acquiring the interpersonal skills, or soft skills, required to thrive at work.
Helping students get their first jobs, fill out their first tax forms, open their first bank account, and yes, make their first purchases using their own money is incredibly rewarding.
After completing the task of finding employment, I have witnessed numerous students receiving special education services transform their negative self-image and disengagement from school into increased self-worth and a new sense of success. As they realize their capacity to participate in the workplace, they begin to have a much stronger belief in themselves.
Furnishing understudies with the vital devices.
In my time as a work coordinator, I’ve learned a lot from experienced colleagues and my own research. Here are some useful methods and tools that might help students succeed.
Over-helping doesn’t help anyone. Students receiving special education services frequently become overly dependent on school staff. Many have had extra help growing up, and they may not be aware that they can do many things on their own. Students have the chance to discover their full potential in an environment where they can work independently. I rarely say or do anything that a student could say or do on their own.
For instance, I teach the student how to make their own phone calls to employers to determine whether they are hiring. Work-based learning is the ideal platform for reducing support and fostering independence, both of which are essential for ensuring student success throughout their education.
Connect the workplace and the classroom. A classroom component should always be included in work-based learning programs. The requirements for work-based learning programs vary by state, but many mandate a “career seminar” class to complement on-the-job experiences and student learning. Specific instruction in topics like safety, labor laws, the job-seeking process, choosing a career, and employability skills is the primary focus of career seminars.
As if I were a manager at work, I teach my career seminar class. For instance, students can only check their phones during a scheduled break halfway through class. When students enter the room, they use a Google Form to clock in by entering the assigned number. The more we can put the skills and routines they’ll need at work into practice, the better. Their capacity to remain employed over the long term is supported by this.
Tell your tale. Which was your first high school job? You probably didn’t start your career as a teacher. Tell students about your work experience, including the challenges and rewards. What was easy for you to do? How did you get over the obstacles you encountered? What led you to teaching, specifically in your particular subject area?
If students are already employed, encourage them to share their own employment experiences. Conversations about one’s successes at work can strengthen relationships and inspire other students to join the workforce and reap the rewards.
Skills make money. When teaching through a work-based learning lens, the focus is on transferable skills that students will keep, which are essential for all working adults to acquire and practice in order to remain employed. Communication, conflict resolution, accepting constructive criticism, organization, and adaptability are all examples of these skills.
With these skills in mind, many classroom situations, including inappropriate behavior choices, can be turned into teachable moments for work-readiness. Remind your students that you share the same objective as them rather than engaging in power struggles with them: their employability and future success. You can collaborate on problem-solving from this location. Instead of focusing on arbitrary school rules or policies, keep it focused on their skills for work.
Keep on believing. Your students will greatly benefit from cultivating hope, resilience, and a growth mindset in their future endeavors to enter the workforce. It’s possible that the road to their ideal career will be filled with setbacks and difficulties. Students must be committed to persevering despite obstacles and have confidence in themselves in order to overcome them.
When we demonstrate that we truly believe in them and in their potential, as educators, we can contribute to their success. There is a job for almost every student in today’s job market. There are a lot of programs that make it possible for people with disabilities to get paid, meaningful work. Students should know this, know that you believe in their potential, and know that you will work to improve their capabilities.
Being a coordinator of work-based learning is an honor. Over the years, numerous students have reconnected with me to share their own success stories, many of which were sparked by their work program experiences in high school. Work-based learning planted the first seeds of success, whether it was a restaurant worker who became a manager, a child care assistant who became a teacher, or a tradesman apprentice who became a foreman. Work-based learning is a great way to help students discover their strengths and use those strengths to gain long-term benefits.