It’s a rare student who comes into my ABE/GED classroom without the intention to get a job or get a better job. Students are well aware that without strong literacy skills and a high school diploma or GED, their career options are really limited. However, I find that only a few have clear understandings of what jobs may be available, or what skills are necessary for those jobs. For many, the motivator is something like: “I hear you can make good money as a _______”. Rarely do students have a clear view of the variety of careers available. As teachers, we need to help them get this information. Students also tend to think of the skills they are learning as something for “the test” and disconnected from the skills they would need for a career or for life. As teachers, we need to bring students closer to the understanding that while the skills we are teaching are for “the test”, they apply to the world of work as well.
An easy way to fill both these needs is to train yourself to use examples which emphasize career reference. For instance, instead of “The dog (ran, is running, will run) down the street yesterday”, how about “The computer technician (ran, is running, will run) a virus check on my computer yesterday”? Instead of “One third of the 75 books were fiction”, how about “One third of the 75 prescriptions filled by the pharmacy tech were antibiotics”? As we teach, we need to constantly use career references in our examples and skills practice so that our students become familiar with various occupations and relate the skills they are learning to those occupations.
Another way to incorporate career awareness into skills teaching is to structure lessons around a certain occupation. Take a few minutes to do a quick internet search for information on an occupation, especially one with high job availability in Florida. Copy or rewrite an article on a radiologist, mix up the paragraphs, and have the students put them in the correct order. Copy or rewrite a paragraph about legal assistants, leave out the commas and have students correct it. Use truck drivers or transportation for questions dealing with the distance/ rate/time formula, calculating miles per gallon, or figuring gas cost per trip. No matter what individual skill your students need or what level you are teaching, you will increase your students’ interest and knowledge by incorporating career awareness into your daily curriculum.