In March, SmartBrief on Education will highlight clips from its STEM Pathways Panel Series. To stay tuned for more events like this one, check out the SmartBrief Education Events page.
Educators and administrators are increasingly looking for opportunities to connect students to work-based learning experiences, with a recent SmartBrief on EdTech poll showing that 72% of readers cite college and career education as a top-level priority for their districts. But what exactly can educators do to prepare students for the world beyond school doors, particularly in in-demand STEM pathways?
Stressing real-world relevance allows students to see how what they’re learning in the classroom applies in the workforce, said Sabari Raja, CEO and co-founder of Nepris, at a SmartBrief STEM Pathways Panel.
“The world of workplace can be a black box, and [students] can wind up making decisions without knowing what this world of work can look like,” she said.
Raja highlighted how technology can be a practical, inexpensive way to link students to career-connected learning, citing the example of how a Nepris digital tour of a GM automotive plant reinforced an engineering lesson on pneumatics.
“It’s our job as teachers, as parents, as industry leaders to bring these experiences to the classroom,” she said.
But work is both technical and social, and 21st-century employees will need both technical skills and “soft” skills, such as social and behavioral skills, said Patrick Waters, MakerEd teacher at the Monarch School in Texas. Waters teaches students of many developmental levels at Monarch School, which focuses on students with neurological differences.
Neurotypical students can turn to adults who have had their same cultural experiences to cultivate skills. Students and people with neurological differences need to be a part of this conversation as well, Waters said.
“Young people with neurological differences need that direct instruction in the soft skills,” he said. “We can also give them the technical skills with it. There are a lot different pathways into STEM.”
Mina Dixon is an editorial assistant at SmartBrief, where she helps write and edit content across industries, including education.
SmartBrief Education’s Path to Workforce content series brings you original content and events on the topic. #Path2W is our vision of college and career readiness, encompassing K-12, adult learners, career changers, non-traditional students and those who forgo a traditional four-year college experience.
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