Be Our Guest!

Guest Blog by Katrina Mabry-Smith

College pennants, banners, door decorations, posters, and tee shirts.  College gear can be found all over Mansfield ISD, and our campuses are buzzing with college-going cultures.  Being AVID schools, we have not only transformed our campuses aesthetically, but instructionally also.  WICOR is infused in each and every subject and grade level, and our students are reaping the benefits, with more rigorous, student-centered strategies to keep them engaged and learning.  With the use of Cornell Notes, essential questions, binders for organization, planners for time management, and the arsenal of unique AVID strategies we are using, what more can we do to AVIDize our campuses and further support the development of college and career-ready students?

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Our students have wrestled with this question since preschool. Many students know exactly what degree and career they want to pursue, while some students, even in our highest grade levels, are unable to definitively respond with a major, degree, or career goal.  To help these students see the endless possibilities in career choices, our district, counselors, teachers, and campuses have offered tremendous resources, including offering career-centered courses at our Ben Barber and Frontier campus, the annual Mansfield ISD College & Career Night, campus-based college and career fairs, GO Centers, Career Cruising, and partnering with various college representatives and businesses. Teachers have developed wonderful lessons that encourage students to research different career options and connect them with the corresponding majors, and have even required students to research colleges that offer those types of programs, but what do we do for the students who still have no idea what they’d like to become?

Guest Speakers are an integral part of the AVID Elective course, and having guest speakers or representatives from various career fields may spark the interest of the student who has not yet decided what they’d like to do after graduation. Teachers from any content area can invite guest speakers with careers that require strengths in their particular subject, and they can work with students to develop a list of majors related to their subject area, which will help students see how the content they’re learning can be applied in the real world. Prior to the guest speaker’s visit, students should come up with a few questions, and during the speaker’s visit, students should take notes and jot down additional questions to be shared during Q&A time.  This will ensure that your students have meaningful dialogue with the speaker and will help them get a better understanding of what the job entails, and if the job interests them.  Also, if you want to include multiple classes, you can find a space on your campus large enough to accommodate the student group and make the most of your guest speaker’s visit. To include guest speakers who may not be able to visit physically, technology can be used to connect them with your students.  Zoom and Google Chat are great tools for connecting your classroom to the world.  It is never too soon for students to consider what they’d like to become; however, it is best that students decide what direction they’d like to take before having to switch majors in college– a costly downside to deciding later rather than sooner what career field is best for them.  Having career-related speakers can make a difference.

Where can you find great speakers?  Well, they’re in our own back yard – maybe in our front yard too.  Parents are a great resource, and not only would their participation help students with finding career choices, but parent speakers would also increase parent and community involvement, an important characteristic of successful schools (Thigpen, Freedberg, & Frey 2014). There’s another resource that’s closer than you think. Many teachers chose education as their second career, so we have a wealth of different career representatives walking the halls of each of our campuses, and you can always tap into the wealth of knowledge next door. Opportunities are limitless for our students, and we want to open as many doors as possible, so reach out and invite in an occasional speaker.  If you’d like to share your wealth of career knowledge or if you know someone who is exceptional at sharing information about their career and its connection with education, then by all means, be our guest.

Thigpen, D., Freedberg, L., & Frey, S. (2014). The power of parents: Research underscores the impact of parental involvement in schools. EdSouce, (Feb. 2014), 1-15. doi: http://edsource.org/wp-content/publications/Power-of-Parents-Feb-2014.pdf

Thank you -Katrina for your post! Check out all that Katrina does at Timberview High School in Mansfield Texas and follow her @TimberviewAVID

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