Career resources and career exploration add immense value to classroom instruction for both educators and students.

Igniting student curiosity through career exploration

Career resources add immense value to classroom instruction for both educators and students

Key points:

Over my 25 years in the classroom, I’ve seen educators successfully overcome a variety of challenges to help their students learn. However, student engagement remains a challenge for many.

In speaking with colleagues from across the country, they all seem to agree that igniting student engagement and curiosity has become incredibly difficult since the COVID-19 pandemic. I think a possible solution to igniting students’ inherent curiosity is to show them how what they are learning in school connects to the real world through career exploration.

There are many benefits to exposing K-12 students potential career paths. It can help them set goals, motivate them to learn, help them explore who they are, and help them discover what they like to do. From my experience, and from what I’ve learned from my fellow educators, the fundamental benefit of sharing potential career pathways with students is that it piques their curiosity about their future and drives them to engage in lessons to learn more, either about potential fields they may be interested in or the knowledge and skills they will need to be successful in a career.

I saw this phenomena first hand when, in my past life as an art and media teacher, I regularly reached out to professionals to come speak to my students about the how and why behind their career path. During those sessions, my students lit up and engaged with the guest in an effort to learn more about where they might be able to apply their school learnings and lessons to a future career.

In my current role as a technology integration specialist, I now provide the educators I serve with a variety of resources to help them connect classroom instruction to their students’ futures. Here are the top two resources I recommend.

1. Career Fields Exploration Tool
Students can explore high-paying career fields and learn specialized skills alongside their regular curriculum with these exploration tool from Stride. There are more than 30 career pathways in a variety of fields, like IT, healthcare, business management, and much more. With the pathways, students have the opportunity to earn real college credits, build professional connections through internships, and even practice industry-required examinations.

These pre-packaged pathways give students the opportunity to glimpse a career or dive deep while discovering what they themselves would need to succeed in that industry. They can discover salary ranges, education requirements, real-life applications of the job, and so much more.

2. Career Connect Platform
Career Connect from Discovery Education is the one-stop-spot to facilitate, plan, and organize interactions between professionals and students. Career Connect is an online tool to help educators find professionals for virtual classroom meetings to share their career journey and insights from their occupation. The program is well designed with information on the professionals’ companies and job roles, what connection they have to different disciplines, in-platform planning resources, and activities for educators to prepare their students for the exchange.

Educators can request an individual from the database or request a time and day and wait to see which professionals respond. Plus, students get to meet with people from industries or careers they may not have previously considered like biotechnology, science, finance, computer engineering, human resources, education, and more.

To be honest, I know it can be scary or overwhelming for teachers to bring in these industry professionals for career connections. I always advise my district educators to embrace and be open to teachable moments, because each interaction can offer unexpected things. Seeing the teachers learn makes it even easier for the students to highlight and connect their own learning.

It has been fantastic connecting students and teachers with professionals who are willing to share about their education, career path, advice, and the reality of working in the real world with students. These resources add immense value to classroom instruction for both educators and students and have quickly become a favorite thanks to the meaningful learning.

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