How can professional development of teachers help them to promote education as a fundamental human right? How the 21st century has changed the roles of the teacher?
Children and youth progress through a career development process as they mature. It consists of four stages: Career Awareness, Career Exploration, Career Preparation, and Career Placement. Adults also continue to grow and develop in their careers as they age, albeit at a slower rate than children. Adults usually enter the final development process (the career placement stage) in the latter stages of their secondary or post-secondary educational experiences.
They then gradually progress through an additional two stages: Career Maintenance and Career Mentoring. However, adults who acquire a disability (e.g. adventitiously blinded adults) may need to cycle back through some of the stages of the career development process. This is because they initially progressed through the process as fully sighted people and may have many of the same misperceptions as the general public about what a person can do with limited or no sight.
Following the acquisition of disability-specific skills, it’s important for adults who lose vision to re-assess themselves in terms of the career development process. They will need time, in much the same way that children and adolescents need time, to move through the six stages. The difference is that adventitiously blinded adults will not need as much time to go through the first four stages of the process as children do.
Children experience the career awareness stage as they learn about themselves and what they enjoy doing (interests), what they can do particularly well (abilities), and learn what’s important to them(values or beliefs). It’s during the career awareness stage that children also learn about the world of work: what jobs are available in the community, what jobs their parents and other significant adults in their lives are doing, and what tasks are inherent to these different types of jobs. For children who are blind or partially sighted, it’s important to let them explore tools, materials, and activities associated with domestic chores and to give them responsibilities when they are old enough to do tasks around the house.
It’s also important to describe what others are doing outside of their visual or tactual range – what tasks they are performing, what they are wearing, what tools they are using, etc. – so that they can learn about jobs and job tasks though this kind of casual or “incidental” exposure. The next stage is a career exploration and this is when children begin to investigate the careers that are of interest to them. They learn the skills that are required and how to develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities to enter career fields that appeal to them.
They read biographies or autobiographies of famous people and learn about their careers, watch movies or television shows with characters performing in different jobs, observe adults doing things that they’d like to be doing (e.g., performing music or competing in athletics), and ask adults questions about jobs of interest and the careers associated with them. During the career exploration stage, children are trying to sort the roles they see adults playing and determine which of those roles might suit them.
This is the time that they explore their talents and determine how others are using similar skills and abilities in careers.
It’s important that children actively engage in community-based functions such as field trips or “take your child to work” days to encourage them to investigate topics and tasks related to career opportunities. They need to attend performances in areas of interest, participate in recitals and competitions, or join teams to see how their performance compares to
their same-aged peers. In the career preparation stage, children and youth gather the knowledge they will need to perform in their careers, including the basic literacy skills necessary to function in modern society and work
successfully in an information age.
In addition, they continue to refine their basic work competencies such as learning different organizational techniques and expected work behaviors such as following instructions. During the career preparation stage, they also refine their skills and abilities through participation in school and community activities; as well as, at home with chores as they assume more and more responsibility with age.
All children have areas of innate ability. It’s during the career preparation stage that they determine which of their natural abilities or talents they want to strengthen through practice and training to a point that they can compete with others whose talents are comparable. It’s during this stage that adolescents decide whether to prepare for further academic training following their secondary school programs, pursue vocational skills training, or go to work. Through engagement at school, chores at home, and activities in the community, such as volunteer experiences, youth develop skills that will transfer to future work environments and prepare them for their careers.
Career placement is the stage that is most often experienced during late adolescence and early adulthood when young adults land their first job outside of their homes for pay. They typically work at a variety of jobs, “trying them on for size”. It’s through placement into jobs that young
people learn what employers expect of them, how to be responsible and contributing members of society, as well as the value of doing work for remuneration (whether it’s money or the more subtle benefits received through apprenticing such as skill development and gaining experience).
They also have the opportunity through such engagement to secure references from people outside of their immediate families who can vouch for their ability to perform on a job. This access to prospective references is a critical factor for youth with disabilities as employers tend to pay more
attention to references from other employers than to those received from friends and family. The career maintenance stage follows the successful landing of a job. During this stage, the worker settles into a pattern, becoming comfortable with job duties and co-workers and finding a balance between work and play. Adults who successfully manage their careers typically map out where they’d like to be over time and strive to achieve those goals.
The skills required to maintain employment are largely social (learning to get along with co-workers, customers, or clients) and, to a lesser degree, vocational (learning the knowledge and work-related skills to perform well and consistently meet productivity standards). Learning social skills is critical for individuals because if their co-workers, customers, or clients like them, they will help them keep their jobs – if they don’t, they will work against them, either overtly or covertly, and maintaining employment will
be a challenge. While adults may change jobs a number of times over the course of their working lives, it’s imperative that those changes be as positive as possible (moving to a new job because of an improved opportunity, a chance to assume more responsibility, or relocating to a new
To maintain a career, it’s important to consider how jobs people have had and are doing relate to their overall career objectives and goals. If an individual’s job doesn’t connect to their long-term career goals, it’s like starting over with each move to a new job. If individuals must re-career due to downsizing or an injury or illness, they need to be prepared to discuss how the work they’ve performed previously has transferability to their new career goals.
When adults near the end of their working lives, they often have the opportunity to mentor other workers and guide them in their career development process. This career mentoring stage can occur while an individual is still working or the following retirement. The career mentoring stage is a time to prepare young people or people new to employment to the expectations and demands of a career field.
It’s in the career mentoring stage where mature workers have an opportunity to share what they’ve learned that has enabled them to be successful in their jobs and set the stage for others to follow suit. Career mentoring may be thought of as succession planning: current workers teach
those who will take their positions in the future.
There is nothing that teaches a child or young adult mature behavior like modeling it yourself. This isn’t just true when you are right. You also have to show your students what it is like to be wrong, and admit it. This is never easy, no matter how old you are. Especially when you are in front of several students who look up to you. And let’s face it, there are some students who
aren’t going to feel sorry for you. But that’s life. And you have to show them that right is right, and wrong is wrong – no matter what.
Encourage them to think for themselves:
Treat your classroom as a group of individuals, and celebrate their diversity. Create activities and discussions that foster conversations and
discovery about who they are, and how they can appreciate the differences between each other. This type of focus from time-to-time will build a stronger bond between your students. Also, an environment of trust will build, which can relax the atmosphere and help students focus more on
learning. It’s also important to help students understand the way they learn, and encourage them to explore those parts of themselves as well.
Perform volunteer work:
Find a way to incorporate community service into one of your lessons, and discuss how you contribute to the community you live in. Ask your students to tell you ways you could perform community service as a group. Many schools will give students a certain amount of time off if they are doing an activity that falls into this category. See if you can organize a community service event with your class. For example, if you are a music teacher, you
can take your class caroling at a retirement home. Or, you can have your class pick up litter on a stretch of road. There are many ways you can instill a sense of pride in giving back among your students.
When we think of teachers as role models, we imagine sympathetic mentors who listen to their students. Sounds simple, right? All you have to do is show that you care? It may sound simple, but we have all had teachers that we didn’t connect with. Students can tell when a teacher is tuned in or tuned out, and disconnected from them. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have all had teachers who went out of their way to show they care about us and want to see us succeed. We all have different personalities, and you should be authentic. But be mindful that your
students are looking up to you as an adult with life experience they don’t have. As they try to figure out how to move into adulthood, make sure they know you’ve got their back.
Point out the positive:
Create a culture in your classroom that rewards kind behavior. The
importance of teachers is apparent in the link between positive reinforcement and their confidence and behavior. Teach them to be constructive with their criticism, pointing out positives before
negative, or suggestions for improvement. Practice with exercises that allow the students to be positive and critical towards each other. This is the kind of respect that debate class exercises can teach children – how to agree to disagree. Teaching children to get in the habit of looking for the good in others is never a bad role model for behavior.