Consortium workshop helps five districts improve student planning

Educators from five districts came together at the Consortium in October for the first of two workshops focused on ways to improve students’ post-secondary planning.

Under state standards, all students must create plans in the eighth grade. But educators attending the workshop want to make sure the plans not only are living documents, but also that they’re serving their purpose and helping students achieve all the standards the state sets for career and workforce education.

Clairton City School District, for example, “wanted to see if our individualized career plan is what it should be,” said Nicolette Bendick, a Guidance Counselor from Clairton City School District. “Is it good? Should we be doing more experiential things or getting students to reflect more?”

With a somewhat different agenda, South Allegheny School District was trying to come up with better ways to help “students in the middle” who often don’t get as much attention as those who are gifted or have special needs, said Kristy Roche, a South Allegheny School District Guidance Counselor.

In addition to Clairton City and South Allegheny, participating districts included Baldwin Whitehall, Greensburg Salem, and Woodland Hills. Remake Learning provided support for the workshop with one of its $1,000 Ignite Grants.

As the basis for presentations and discussions, Consortium Program Director Christy Kuehn, PhD, who organized the workshop, drew on V. Scott Solberg’s book, The Handbook of Career & Workforce Development.

A key premise, both for the book and workshop, is that student planning isn’t so much about much planning per se as it is about engagement. Once they’ve thought about their interests and tried to envision the future around them, students are much more motivated to identify and pursue the steps they need to take to achieve their goals, said Solberg, a Boston University Professor who joined the workshop via video-conferencing.

“Student planning is really about positive youth development,” he said.