5 Ways to Include Career Readiness into Your SPED Curriculum (Middle and High School)

Saturday, December 30, 2017
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  I have 8th graders. If you know anything about 8th graders, all they're thinking about is who commented under their picture on a certain social media app and if they can convince their mom to buy them fast food for dinner tonight. Career and college readiness seems to be the furthest from their little 13-year-old minds most of the time and that's okay. If you told me that I was going to be a Special Education teacher, blogger, and children's author, I would have either laughed or cried. Just a few years prior to entering middle school I had my heart set on becoming a dolphin trainer and look at me now. My dolphins just have legs, language skills, and are social media savvy. My dolphins are also unsure of what they want to become when they're older.

   Many of my students do not want to attend college which leaves them having at most 4 years left of formal education after 8th grade. I don't want to constantly preach to them that they should be thinking about their careers this early but I do want to expose them to the working world in some form. They are young enough to still dream wildly when it comes to their future occupation but old enough to understand that they'll be working for far longer than they were ever in school. Here are 5 fairly easy ways to include career readiness in your lesson plans to make the real world of having a job not so daunting for our impressionable kiddos.

1. Have a Mock Interview - Pretend that you are the boss and create a job description such as a Teaching Assistant. Develop interview questions that your students can prepare for. Hold an interview session in class to hear your students answer various questions. Give them feedback on not only their answers but their body language and tone.

2. Develop a Resume - I had my students complete a (fill in the blank) resume where they included all of the skills that they have developed since elementary school. I asked them to list chores and volunteer work that would make them a competitive worker amongst their peers. This was a very engaging activity and it allowed me to really get to know my students better.

3. Create a Vision Board - A vision board activity could be used to encourage students to visualize their 5-year goals and beyond. The purpose of a vision board is to place words, phrases, and pictures that illustrate a future ambition. One of my students wanted to be an interior designer and study in New York when she's older. She found several magazine cut-outs that helped to make this goal more concrete for her.

4. Interview Someone - If it's okay with your principal and parents, invite someone with a career (other than teaching) that might be interesting to the students. My school invited a successful Hip Hop/Rap Music Producer to come and speak to our kids one year and he was a hit. The kids couldn't stop talking about him for days.

5. Sharpen Those Search Skills - Allow your students to look on a company's website and find out how to apply. Your students don't have to fill out the application. It is important for your students to know how to navigate a website and look for language like "apply here", "application", and "careers". SPED kids can definitely be at a disadvantage so the earlier they are taught about online applications, the better.

Happy Teaching!

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