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As I sit and watch my students work independently, I have a moment to evaluate each of them and wonder about whether or not they will be successful.

Will they do all they have been dreaming of doing since learning about possible paths they can take after high school? They are on the cusp of adulthood and putting their goals in action, yet some are not easily motivated. Some students do not take their time in class seriously while others go above and beyond to succeed in all I am asking of them.

What can be done to help students reach their full potential after high school?

School districts are increasingly recognizing the need for career exposure. Students need to know what options are available as well as how to set realistic goals for themselves.

There is value in being exposed to a multitude of career options. By exploring a career a student may never have heard of, new aspirations may develop. On many occasions, that very thing has happened in my classroom. As a teacher, I enjoy seeing the lights turn on with a student.

Students who are not as motivated need to know what is involved in a career to determine if they find it worth pursuing. These students may find that a particular job or career is not what they expected. This process of career exploration and exposure could possibly help these students decide on a different career path.

I want all of my students to be exposed to as many career options as possible.

Kuder Navigator® is a fantastic way to give my students the exposure needed for them to make more educated decisions about their future.

In Navigator, students are able to take career assessments that give them individualized results tailored to careers that align with their interests, skills, and work values.

While looking at the results of their assessments, students are able to further explore what their results mean to them.

The school year starts off looking at a multitude of careers in all clusters and gradually narrowing those based on assessment results from Navigator and individual interests. Gradually, students begin to eliminate some careers and prioritize others. Navigator is a great means for students to explore careers and select “favorites.”

Lesson plans make the teacher's job a little easier.

The Navigator Administrative Database Management System® (ADMS) includes lesson plans for middle and high school teachers. This feature makes my job a little bit easier.

The lessons offered by Navigator are very engaging, interesting, and lend to great class and group discussions. I have modified lessons and activities to better accommodate the needs of my students. For example, I create tables for them to complete based on their assessment results.

Lesson Plan Ideas

Interactive projects enable students to explore careers of interest.

I typically have students focus on one career cluster at a time and complete a table based on information from various careers found in that cluster. Then they answer several constructed response questions using evidence from the table they have completed.

My students look at each of the 16 National Career Clusters in depth as well as clusters specific to their assessment results. The final project is the End of Year project, which consists of students deciding on one career of interest. The project requires students to write a report, create a presentation, and present it to their classmates.

Career exploration activities with real-life scenarios open students' eyes.

Navigator ADMS also offers optional activities that I use, and they usually give me ideas to build on so that students get the most from each lesson. As previously mentioned, I also create activities and projects to complement and reinforce the objective we are trying to achieve.

Students enjoy diving into a career and being given a scenario in which they are “living their dream” at the moment. They thrive when given the opportunity to use their imagination. This also encourages them to consider what is needed to turn their dreams into real, achievable goals.

They recognize what kinds of courses they need to take, how long it will take them to meet requirements for a particular job, how much money that education will cost them, and how much money they will potentially earn in a specific career.

Student Career Project
A student shares her career hopes and dreams.

Students enjoy imagining the lifestyle they will live once they are adults on their own. By knowing the potential income for the career they want to pursue, they can create a mock budget to decide if they can afford the lifestyle they desire to have one day.

During this particular activity, I conduct a search of house listings in our area. The results will include an image of the home, total cost of the home, statistics on the home, and an estimated monthly house note.

Students are always awakened by the reality of what they will be able to afford based on a specific career. One student learned she would need to do more with her life so she “wouldn’t be sleeping on an air mattress in a classmate’s yard.”

It was very eye-opening for her as well as others. Of all the lessons I teach, this particular activity is very real to them and has the most impact.

Career exploration is critical to the success of each student beyond high school.

If my students were not allowed to explore career options, the outcome of their lives could be very different.

Career exploration is so valuable and it is critical to the success of each student beyond high school. We want our students to succeed – not only in our classroom, but in their lives beyond school.

About the Author

Kari Wall is a CTE instructor for the West Baton Rouge Parish Schools in Louisiana. She teaches Business Computer Applications and Journey to Careers at the middle school level for high school credit. She also teaches computer literacy courses for students in grades five through seven. Kari is a certified Microsoft Office Specialist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business education with an additional certification in English from McNeese State University.

  1. best practices
  2. career guidance classroom activities

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