ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION®
It’s been said that Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player ever, never won a championship until Phil Jackson came along. Muhammad Ali was a raw fighter when Angelo Dundee entered the picture and made him into a world champion and arguably, the greatest fighter of all time. What both of these two mega-stars had that many of us struggle to find is a great MENTOR. Mentors are absolutely crucial to your success or failure in your chosen career.
I love the game of golf and although I am nothing more than a duffer, it is a wonderful metaphor for life. You see, in golf you can get immediate and, many times brutal, feedback. As soon as the ball leaves your club, you know if you hit it good, or if it was horrible. What if we had that same feedback in life? Actually, we do, if you know where to look. It is called a good mentor. Mentors are ones who can see in us what we cannot see in ourselves. We are not the best judge of our abilities. We tend to have blind spots. Having a great mentor allows us to evaluate our skills and to see our blind spots in hopes of offering us a plan for improvement.
During my career, I have sought mentors many times. I was always taught the value of mentorship from an early age. I have learned that whatever your responsibilities, you can learn from those with more experience. When I was a young police officer, I sponged as much knowledge from the more veteran officers as I could. I saw how they were able to handle people with their communication skills. I saw how they comforted the weak and the young and bought groceries or gas for those who were less fortunate…and never wanted to be recognized. As I started to grow into my own as a leader, I surrounded myself with people who were always smarter than me. I figured, if I hung around people who were smarter or better leaders, I would see how they handle things and dealt with the stresses of everyday life. I read one time a quote that said, “Mentors are not there to make us happy. They are there to guide us to the best of their knowledge.”
Before looking for a leadership mentor, you need to understand how to use them to grow. You need to have figured out your leadership needs. Once you know your goals, you can make the most of the time with your mentor. However, we must also be open to changing our goals as we uncover more opportunities for growth. To end with another golf analogy, golf looks really easy, after all it is just hitting a round ball, which is sitting perfectly still, with a big stick. Life is exactly the same way. We tend to make things much more difficult than they really are. After all, everyone else is doing it and it looks so simple. But, to be truly successful like the pros, we need someone to teach and coach us along the way.
Rich FlotronRegion III Leadership Fellow
Posted by Educators in Action at 11:00 AM in Professional Development | Permalink
Just one in seven engineers are female, only 27% of all computer science jobs are held by women, and women have seen no employment growth in STEM jobs since 2000. ~ Forbes Magazine, 2014
Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology (STEM) like most things worth having, is hard work. As an educator, it can be hard to get students to consider or pursue courses where their gender is significantly outnumbered. Here are a few ways to succeed in making those courses appeal to those nontraditional students:
We have an intentional and purposeful commitment towards attracting and retaining girls in STEM. STEM is a destination reach for girls/women to innovate, predict and solve the problems that shape our world today, tomorrow and beyond. The global workforce is waiting on them, which is a CTE MATTER!
Eboni Camille Chillis, Ph.D. Coordinator of Career, Technical & Agricultural Education Clayton County Public Schools
Posted by Educators in Action at 06:00 AM in STEM | Permalink
Technology (STEM) are all around us. If you are reading this blog…that’s STEM, the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the food we eat, the life we what is all contingent upon a set of thinking. STEM is the ability to develop a set of thinking, reasoning, inferences, and predictions that is embraced with creativity at work and in our every day lives. And of course, there is the mental tenacity necessary to navigate through mathematics and science; which is a prerequisite for sustaining the competitiveness of our ever-changing technology world. What factor yields the most influence in inhibiting or bringing more women into nontraditional fields like STEM? My humble opinion is that there is a conscious/unconscious bias that has developed in educational, business and industry practices minimizing the opportunity for girls to see themselves ready and able to use their mental rigor and intellectual thinking required for STEM courses and careers.
Fact: Supporting women STEM students and researchers is not only an essential part of America’s strategy to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world; it is also important to women themselves. Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM occupations and experience a smaller wage gap relative to men. And STEM careers offer women the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of discovery and technological innovation. Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is an important step towards realizing greater economic success and equality for women across the board. ~ Office of Science and Technology Policy
Solution: If STEM is all around us, then girls and women are too!
We have an intentional and purposeful commitment towards attracting and retaining girls in STEM. Economic projections indicate that by 2018, there could be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs. STEM is a destination reach for girls/women to innovate, predict and solve the problems that shape our world today, tomorrow and beyond. The global workforce is waiting on them, which is a CTE MATTER!
Eboni Camille Chillis, Ph.D. Coordinator of Career, Technical & Agricultural Education Clayton County Public Schools
Posted by Educators in Action at 11:00 AM in STEM | Permalink
Life choices aside, the following story shows how some students’ ingenuity knows no bounds.
Maria became pregnant at the beginning of her freshman year. She had recently joined the academy and was eager to begin her exposure to Architecture, but the dream of one day becoming a professional started to slip away. I have seen many students in similar situations and dropping out is the usual outcome. This is where Maria’s story differs.
In December, Maria went to her counselor and discussed the possibilities of her high school future; later that same day she found out that she would have twins. With the news of children and her bleak academic forecast, she started thinking of a way to succeed.
She first asked to enroll in virtual school during after school hours in order to take some of next year’s courses over the summer and stay on time to graduate. She then proceeded to seek guidance from others who had similar experiences, and what they offered was a world of support in the form of a local mother’s group which gave her diapers, baby clothes, bottles, formula and much more. The emotional support and materials eased the forthcoming financial stress.
Fast forward a few months and she has the twins, is living with another single mother from the local group, is taking classes online, and is getting ready for the upcoming semester. This is when I meet Maria. On the first day of school, she is the first one in class and asks me what my class will do for her career. Not what are we going to do in the class but what will my class do in preparing her to become an architect. The conversation went on until I had convinced her that she would gain valuable career related skills, have opportunities to build relationships with business partners, and earn an industry certification.
Now, nearly two months into school, she is a part of the ACE mentoring club, has an A in my class, is taking two classes online because she only attends half a day during school hours and is always the first person to class with a smile on her face. I do not know if the other students know her story or not, but whenever I ask the students to be problem solvers and never give up, it never fails that her ingenuity and drive is the first thing that comes to my mind.
The hardest problem to solve for some of our students is how to get to school enough to succeed with all that is going on in their lives, and I am truly impressed by their solutions.
By Adam Guidry, Lead Teacher, Academy of Environmental and Urban Planning, Glencliff High School, Nashville, TN
Posted by Educators in Action at 11:00 AM | Permalink
Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, Arizona recently expanded its Project Lead the Way (PTLW) Certified Biomedical Sciences Program. This innovative program provides students with opportunities to experience real-world medical challenges before they graduate from high school. Working with the same tools used by professionals in hospitals and labs, students engage in compelling hands-on activities and collaborate to find solutions to various problems. Because of the coursework, students graduate with in-demand knowledge and skills they will use long after high school and can apply what they have learned to any career path they pursue. Kim Rodgers, the class instructor, stated “This is our fifth year of the program and it is continuing to grow. We now have 150 students enrolled, which incorporates all grade levels. I would like to see more students complete the full four year program and have the opportunity to develop more community partnerships. Hopefully, this will aide in the offering of internships for students so they can better prepare for college and more competitive professions.”
In the introductory course of the PLTW Biomedical Sciences program, students explore concepts of biology and medicine as a way to determine the factors that led to the death of a fictional person. While investigating and processing the case, students examine autopsy reports, investigate medical history and explore medical treatments that might have prolonged the person’s life. The activities and projects introduce students to human physiology, basic anatomy, medicine, and research processes while simultaneously allowing them to design their own experiments to solve problems.
Rodgers works with personnel from the Glendale Police Department, specifically the school resource officer (SRO) Sargent Scott Waite and Detective Mark Coyle. Both Sargent Waite and Detective Coyle spoke to her students about the procedures involved when assessing a crime scene. Following these presentations, students gained hands-on experience by rotating through stations where they analyzed various pieces of evidence from the crime scene. Students collected blood and hair samples, ran fingerprint comparisons, analyzed DNA, and ran field tests to determine if drugs were involved in the crime.
Senior student, Aaron Combs, is in his fourth year of the program. Combs stated, “Each year has a different focus and because of this I am now very interested in the field. The biomedical program allows someone to experience the field even if they are not initially interested, but once in the program they will gain something out of it. Mountain Ridge High School is the only school in the Deer Valley Unified School District that offers this program.”
By allowing students the opportunity to use project-based learning, collaborate with peers, integrate technology, and apply coursework to real-world situations, Mountain Ridge High School students are better prepared to excel in a competitive global arena after they graduate. The school is located at 22800 N. 67th Avenue in Glendale. To find out more about this extraordinary school, visit the website at http://www.dvusd.org/Domain/41
By Debbie Moore CTE, Career and Technical Education Marketing Educator/Teacher on Assignment Mountain Ridge High School, Glendale, AZ
“Make. Just make. This is the key. The world is a better place as a participatory sport. Being creative, the act of creating and making, is actually fundamental to what it means to be human.”
~ Maker-Movement Manifesto
This quote is one that always seems to resonate with my CTE beliefs. It is in CTE that students are presented an opportunity to actively engage with their teachers, peers and community to ‘make’ business and industry practices, procedures, processes, and conceptual understandings clearer for present and future sustainability. This sustainability impacts the global economy, so just ‘make’.
A recent graduate from CTE shared a story about his experience and his ability to create (make) things he never imagined or believed he could. The student started CTE in 10th grade; he had no true ambitions or interest in the CTE pathway in which he was enrolled. Then one day, he was required to pitch his business plan and in that moment his life changed forever. His imagination and creativity allowed him to create a gaming app for autistic students to calm their anxiety of test taking. See, he wanted his brother to enjoy and find passion in learning as well. He said, “Why ‘make’ learning or even test-taking such a uncomfortable experience? I am okay with hard work but why did school always feel like if I didn’t do it the prescribed way, I failed or wouldn’t ‘make’ it?” As I listened, I didn’t have the answer but what I did have was inspiration and hope.
This is just one student in CTE but as they share their stories with us, collectively we have thousands who were able to take the skills and concepts learned, make business plans or inventions, and turn them into ‘their’ reality. He was able to visualize what he could do and become. This student now has a “choice-filled life” where he is able to ‘make’ critical decisions about his business and future, but more importantly how he will impact the world.
We have an intentional and purposeful commitment in CTE. Allow CTE students to dream, build, create (make) and explore being innovators, problem-solvers and entrepreneurs. The global workforce is waiting on them, which is a CTE MATTER!
Eboni Camille Chillis, PhDCoordinator of Career, Technical & Agricultural EducationClayton County Public Schools
Posted by Educators in Action at 06:00 AM | Permalink
The assignment was for the students to find a problem on campus and design a solution for it. I have always been an advocate of inquiry-based learning and this assignment was completely aligned with that. When students started reporting what problems they wanted to solve on campus, I noticed many of the same ideas. The need for more sidewalks on campus, moving the student parking closer to the school, and adding a stoplight at the closest intersection to the back of the school were among the most cited. Then Steven asked if he could redesign the baseball field, if you could call it that, to address a few issues and seek a grant for the redesign. I was all ears.
Steven went on to explain how the field had no accessible water - potable or otherwise - bleachers, canopies for shade, dugouts or way to bring equipment to the field other than by foot. I told him that his group would have their work cut out for them, and they began their research. His team originally consisted of 3 other classmates, but in the 2 weeks they had to develop their solutions, the group dwindled to just Steven and one other student, who was added to the class the day before the presentation.
Steven and his partner had created a detailed design that included all of the following: old pallet materials to make a roof structure that would be fastened to the existing fenced-in benches, a rain collection system that included roof drains into barrels and a water runoff collection point with a perforated pipe running along the sloped visitor side with a small cistern with a manual pump, and an entrance to the field created by using old playground rubber chips that would be wide enough for a car to drive on to move some donated bleachers to the field.
His presentation included: a budget for materials and labor, a construction timeline, both a virtual 3D model and a 3D printed model and the start of an application for a grant through a local non-profit. After Steven finished his presentation, which was the first one of the day, the other teams asked for more time to work on theirs. He had not only succeeded in solving this problem in an ingenuous way but he also raised the bar for the rest of the students in the class.
I later used Steven’s presentation as a marketing tool for middle schoolers choosing what school they want to attend. So, in a way, he is still solving problems many years after his graduation because his creative designs are laying a path for future students to follow.
Everywhere you look on teacher oriented websites and journals, you see the maker movement. This year, I decided to create a makerspace in my own classroom. Here is how it worked.
I started by asking questions:
I decided to create cards with ideas for the students to look over and choose a project theme. For instance, a student could choose a card saying “make a gift” or “make a cellphone case” and that would be the theme of the project. From these two examples, you can see that some themes were more specific and some were very general. The end result of the project will be to create a product, along with a written document answering questions directly related to our marketing concepts. Students can work as individuals or in pairs (they must try both ways) and complete four projects per quarter. I implemented this project with second year students first and plan to introduce first year students during the second semester.
Because I teach marketing, the students have to describe the rationale as to why someone would buy their “product” and how they would market it. Students must create a feature and benefit chart and marketing mix. I created a rubric and set of guidelines so students had an idea what I expected from the written portion of the project, but the product portion is free for them to design as they wish. However, the written portion requires some explanation of the product and encourages students to stay on track.
After I created the note cards with themes, I gathered random materials that I thought might be useful. I also told the students to make a list if they needed additional items, or to bring items from home. I saved plastic containers, toilet paper rolls, and bottle caps. I found people to donate ribbon, pipe cleaner, and various size wooden blocks and rods. I added glues, markers, and colored paper. It was hard to anticipate what they might want.
After the completion of our first project day, I consider the space a huge success. All students chose to work in pairs. They worked diligently, discussing ideas and took the rubric into account making decisions. They were excited, they talked about all the concepts we have worked on in the past and I was impressed with both the products and the written reports. The students were happy to be out of their seats and using their creativity. They have already asked when they get to use the space again.
Wendy Robichaud, Ed.D., Marketing Instructor, Oxford Hills Technical School, Maine
Posted by Educators in Action at 11:00 AM | Permalink
Best practices to CTE are like Fish to Water…they are a necessity for survival! Best practices of any kind are tested, tried and true, meaning they are sound and grounded in research. They are practices that impact positive change, growth and intellectual tenacity. TechTarget defines “best practices” as a technique or methodology that, through experience and research, has proven to reliably lead to a desired result. In CTE, the desired results are best accomplished through an intentional and purposeful commitment. Be willing to delve into the best practices based on business, industry and educational trends using all the knowledge and technology available to ensure success, which is our survival. A promising best practice (technology tool) to be integrated in CTE pathways such as Programming, Automotive, and Healthcare Science is Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) applications.
Imagine changing the traditional teacher-student relationships; imagine technology that allows “the teacher to take students to places a school bus could never go, with panaromas and points of interest to make it easy for them to integrate it into existing curriculum and bring lessons to life" (TechEd); and imagine CTE concepts and tasks in an environment where a real life problem to be solved or investigated is enhanced by virtual elements in real time. Lastly, imagine the profound impact on the way we interact with technology and the way we do our jobs for many years to come (EdTech Trends).
So what is the purpose of VR/AR? The research presents us with these ideas: changing the learning environment by enhancing the information we naturally receive through our five senses, by adding superimposed, constructed virtual elements to bring complementary information and meaning that may not be possible to see by natural means. VR/AR creates an interactive environment between computer system and user bringing to life abstract concepts to enhance understanding. While you delve into the best practices for VR/AR technologies, resources that will allow you to continue the conversation and possible implementation in your school district or CTE classrooms are EdTech, Virtual Reality Education Pathfinder, Verizon, Unity Software and innovators Dieter Schmalstieg and Daniel Wagner.
We have an intentional and purposeful commitment in CTE. Best practices in CTE are bigger than searching for Pokémon…search for the tools, technologies and concepts that truly prepare our students to be critical thinkers, problems-solvers, and positive and productive members of the global workforce…it remains true - CTE MATTERS!
By Eboni Camille Chillis, PhD
Coordinator of Career, Technical & Agricultural Education
Clayton County Public Schools
The biggest challenge in life is to be yourself in a world that is trying to make you like everybody else! "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them," is a mantra used many times in life.
No organization has ever been successful without new and innovative ideas. Innovation, be it in business or education, is all about challenging the status-quo. Before an organization can begin to innovate, it must answer a few difficult questions. The most important questions are: “What does innovation mean to your institution? Does your institution enable or stifle innovation? What about your competitors...how innovative are they?”
Sometimes, colleges and universities have to remind themselves that they don't have to do what everyone else is doing. So, how do you accomplish that task? You accomplish innovation by going through 4 stages: generate ideas; refine your ideas; select the specific ideas that you want to try; and lastly, implement the ideas. The problem with many institutions is they want the BIG ideas, but never have a plan to see them come to fruition. In other words, they may be good at listening to the innovative ideas of their employees, but never research them enough to say, "I think we want to go with that idea and run with it."
Many times, innovators see the biggest enemy as the institution itself, the reason being that institutions are not designed for innovation, they are designed for ongoing operations. In education, we serve our stakeholders, who might be students, boards, trustees, taxpayers, or any number of customers or patrons. In the end, we strive for productivity and efficiency; therefore, we evolve and deliver what is being sought by them. When it comes down to it, educational institutions have to focus on serving their students BETTER than other schools, or stakeholders will spend their hard-earned money somewhere else. With that being said, there is continuous pressure to be more efficient and profitable and to continue to advance in new areas. When institutions want to be "innovative" there will inevitably be conflict within. ‘Repeatable’ and ‘predictable’ are the stakeholders’ friends. Predictability is especially powerful because it serves as a baseline for future expectations and holding people accountable. In many organizations, budgets are set based largely on predictable outcomes.
Ultimately, when any educational institution decides to pursue innovation, the leadership must have a vision for the future. When you think about it, titles or positions don't really matter though, ideas do! If you want people who possess the skills to innovate, they have to be the faculty and staff who remember why you are in business in the first place...for the student. They must be open-minded enough to new ideas and resist the urge to say, "We have tried that before and it didn't work." In the end, when we want innovation...we must THINK DIFFERENTLY!
Rich Flotron, 2016 Region III Leadership Fellow
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