Online Professional Learning and
Technical Assistance for
21st Century Community Learning Centers
  1. Contact Us
  2. Join
  3. Sign In

Navigation

April 11, 2022

Career pathways exploration may involve those fantasy jobs like astronaut or deepwater diver that aren’t found on every corner of every town. But Y4Y’s course on career pathways can direct you toward activities you can plan to expand students’ awareness of education and career opportunities close to home. Some students in 21st CCLC programs may not see themselves ever straying far from the community they grew up in, while others may think leaving is their only option. Either way, early connections to career paths and possibilities right in their own backyard will give students more investment in the community today and better ensure their future success and contribution to the world around them, no matter where they end up.

Partnerships

When taking a place-based approach to exploring career pathways with students, you might start by asking yourself a question: How do local commerce and industry ­— whether historically based on plentiful natural resources or recently developed based on community needs like technology or healthcare ­— impact the community’s success and culture?

  1. Who can help you answer this question? Consider new partnerships with state and local commerce offices, employment and workforce guidance departments; labor unions; media outlets; military recruiters; and organizations like the Rotary Club. Tools like Y4Y’s Identifying Partners, Community Asset Mapping, and Mapping Needs to Partners can help you figure out the best place to start. Other tools in the Y4Y Strategic Partnerships course will be useful in reaching out, like Creating a Program Elevator Speech and Planning for Developing Program Champions.
  2. What will student research look like? You have many options to help students better understand the relationship between commerce/industry and community success and culture. Representatives from your new partnerships can come speak to students. They can recommend internet sites to explore. Or they can answer your staff members’ questions so they can share the information with students through engaging activities.
  3. Remember school partners. What school curriculum involves research on local or state commerce/industry? Where can your program support that learning, and where can you fill gaps?

An Age-Appropriate Approach

Your 21st CCLC program is the perfect environment to introduce early career exploration! Y4Y’s new course on this topic offers a useful framework and many tools for designing age-appropriate activities. And centering those activities on your community will make them all the more relevant and meaningful to young minds.

  • Share Y4Y’s Tips for Families: Preparing Children and Youth for Success. This tool guides families through the kinds of everyday practices and day trips in their neighborhoods that can help ensure that their students start connecting early with the idea of a future profession in the place where they live. Examples include visiting nearby nature centers and attending cultural events — anything that’s offered in the neighborhood will do. Even young students can be brought to college and job fairs in the community; encourage families to ask lots of questions of the booth attendants. If you’ve ever staffed a booth, you know how nice it is to have people genuinely interested in what you’re there to talk about, no matter their age!
  • Work with community partners when reviewing results of the Y4Y Elementary Student Interest Inventory. For example, the Rotary Club president might have ideas on how students who love measuring and paper airplane designs could connect with a local architect for a “day at the office,” or how one who loves animals and gardening might spend time touring a nearby farm.
  • Y4Y’s Career Pathways Activity Design Guidebook offers many more ideas. Through the lens of place-based learning, make the most of suggestions like the guidebook’s Strategy 6: Use Coaching and Mentoring Opportunities. At all academic levels, find special adults in the community to cement those magical two-way relationships. This way, the community is making a personal, direct investment in its future through your students, and the students begin to see themselves as an integral part of the community.

Author Paul Gruchow, in his work Discovering the Universe of Home notes, “Nothing in my education prepared me to believe, or encouraged me to expect, that there was any reason to be interested in my own place. If I hoped to amount to anything, I understood, I had better take the first road east out of town as fast as I could. And, like so many of my classmates, I did.” Yes, you want your students to believe — to know — they can become astronauts or deepwater divers if it is their greatest dream. But you can and should begin at home with the wealth of career possibilities hiding in plain sight in your students’ very own place.



March 10, 2022

As humans, our psychological need for closure is so well documented that a scale was developed to measure this need. Culminating events are an important element in 21st CCLC programs — whether you’re wrapping up a big STEAM or problem-based learning project or inviting families to celebrate a successful in-person year. Bear in mind, though, that some students could be heartbroken at losing the constancy of their time in your program. Consider these tips and tools for addressing the end of the program year in a way that enables everyone to enjoy healthy closure.

As you’re planning, keep these goals and benefits of a culminating event in mind:

  • Involve students. This needs to be their event. So much has been outside their control, especially this year. Be sure their voice is loud and proud in decisions around your culminating event.
  • Everyone loves a surprise. Just because you’ve handed over the reins on most aspects of planning doesn’t mean you can’t surprise students and families with a special guest, a small giveaway, or a performance. A surprise amplifies the festive atmosphere and tells everyone involved you think they’re special.
  • You’re tying accomplishment to celebration. Young people need every possible opportunity to reinforce that their hard work will pay off. Sometimes that hard work is just sticking with something or showing up. But even that effort deserves recognition.
  • Whenever a door closes, another opens. If your students are sad about the end of the program year, remind them that every ending is also a new beginning. You can ask them to remember some of their favorite beginnings in the past — even the first day of this program year — to demonstrate that new beginnings can lead in exciting directions.

Y4Y offers tools to help you plan for your culminating event because this is such an important step in programming. See this month’s Topical Tool Kit for other aspects of your planning.

You can visit the last strategy in each course for more ideas that relate to the focus of your programming. For example:

  • Have you been exploring career pathways with your elementary students? Have them dress as their favorite professional. (See more tips by selecting the drop-down Menu in the course and jumping to slide 107, “Celebrate Peaks and Summits.”)
  • Is supporting English learners your emphasis? Explore your students’ cultural traditions around celebrations and ask them how they’d like to bring those traditions to your event. (See more tips by going to the course and jumping to slide 119, “How Will You Celebrate?”)
  • Are you celebrating something smaller, like completing a project in civic learning and engagement? Arrange for students to attend a school board meeting and give an official report on the work they accomplished in their community. (See more tips by jumping to slide 73, “Example Celebration,” in that course.)
  • Visit other Y4Y courses like Literacy, STEAM, Financial Literacy, Social and Emotional Learning, and Family Engagement for other targeted celebration ideas.

In celebrating the 20th anniversary of Human Resources Development Quarterly, Tim Hatcher makes a poignant observation: “Celebration is an ancient ritual. It gives us a way to feel good about ourselves and our accomplishments. When we celebrate we are reinforcing something important to us. Without it we simply maintain the status quo and candidly have a lot less fun.” There are so many things you want for your students in your 21st CCLC program: academic growth, a safe space with caring adults, meaningful connections with their peers, and exposure to new and exciting opportunities. Happily, each of these can go hand in hand with celebrating and having fun!



December 16, 2021

Imposter Syndrome — the feeling that you don’t belong in the environment you’ve worked toward — is very real and seems to impact women and minorities most. Some of the self-doubt professionals feel is reinforced by memories of the messaging they received — both direct and indirect — from the adults who helped to shape their lives. This realization can be both scary and exciting as you consider the power you have in the lives of your students. Use tools from several courses for tips on how you can turn the tables on imposter syndrome and set your students up for success in any field.

Relationships Are the Root

The stronger your relationship is with your students, the more weight your words will carry with them. Most of us can remember at least one teacher with a reputation for meanness. And while, as adults, we recognize it could not have been easy to be on the receiving end of that meanness, it was likely easier to live with than even slightly disappointing a cherished mentor. To lay the groundwork for strong connections with your students, Y4Y offers a staff Training to Go, Building Relationships, and a brand-new training that takes childhood development into account: Understanding Development and Connecting With Children. Also check out Strategies for Creating a Positive Learning Environment, and take an active role in team-building activities.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

One educator-turned-mom blogger, Shelly Stasney, cites three psychological and child development theories that reinforce the idea that, as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, children will become what you say they are. These theories are echoed in the research compiled in the “theories” tool in Y4Y’s Stages of Child and Adolescent Development course. In fact, a course matrix shows that children as young as four years old are forming new images of themselves based on how others view them. The basics of social and emotional learning also remind us that the first and most fundamental skill is self-awareness, so if your program is offering any social and emotional learning skill-building, you’re actively opening students up to taking in and taking on your perspective of who they are. As you consider the students in your program who may be more vulnerable as adults to imposter syndrome, you can use this awesome “power” to build up those little psyches. Every challenge is an opportunity for honest praise. If a child displays:

  • Disruptive behavior, say “I love that you have so much enthusiasm that it’s hard to wait your turn!”
  • Shyness, say “I can tell you have some powerful thinking going on in there!”
  • Self-doubt, say “I believe in you! Want to know why? Because I’ve seen you accomplish amazing things like coming to the program on time every single day all year. You might say that’s easy, but not everyone does it!”
  • Discomfort with anything academic, say “Using your mind is mostly about problem solving. Remember what a great job you did at problem solving when there weren’t enough kids to play a game of basketball? We’re ALL using our brain power every day!”

Passive Imagery

Even if you’ve built trust and actively given positive, personalized messages to your students, there’s only so much you can do about the world outside your program. Be sure to include lots of passive, diverse imagery in your program space and materials. Invite guest speakers that “look like” your students, such as a female surgeon, a college professor from the inner city or an attorney who uses a wheelchair. And teach students to “think big” when it comes to imagining their futures. Y4Y’s newly updated Career Pathways for Students course offers many tools like the Career Pathways Activity Design Guidebook to help students head imposter syndrome off at the pass by envisioning those futures from a young age.

Although you may be focusing efforts on acceleration of learning and general academics, don’t lose sight of the opportunity to expose your students to real-world careers in ways that help them to see themselves there. Not sure where to start? Check these Y4Y courses for activities that connect students to a variety of professions:

Activist Buckminster Fuller once said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” In your 21st CCLC program, you have the power to build a new generation of diverse professionals who won’t just do amazing things, but feel it was always their destiny.



November 11, 2021

Is an expensive university education the best assurance of success? Not necessarily! Y4Y has responded to your feedback that pathways to every kind of career success should be offered to students. The updated Career Pathways for Students course offers Basic, Advanced and Leadership certificates of completion. More important, it shows you ways to give even very young students the prompts they’ll need to draft their own successful futures. Whether students decide to pursue a trade, the military, workforce advancement or, yes, college, Y4Y’s new Career Pathways for Students course will get you thinking about the many chapters of preparing students for the future. You can help students at every grade level learn about themselves and careers to consider, and get beyond that creaky old embossed leather binding!

Table of Contents

If you’re browsing books, you’re not going to stand in the library and read entire volumes, right? Once you’ve gotten past the cover, the first thing you might do is to flip to the table of contents. The Career Pathways Approach at a Glance tool gives a nice summary of what to expect in this course, and guides you to the chapters that apply to your program. Some you can implement right away, while others may take long-range planning. Want more detail? The Career Pathways for Students Planning Checklist fleshes those steps out even more.

What Others Are Saying

Do you flip to the back cover to see what others are saying about that book in your hand? Career readiness takes many voices, so you’ll want to download the College and Career Pathways Questionnaire for Students and Families to pinpoint your program’s specific needs. Spark families’ interest in joining you on this exploration of career pathways by using Y4Y’s Tips for Families: Preparing Children and Youth for Success. You have other community partners’ voices to consider on this journey. Check out the Guiding Questions for Partnerships in College and Career Awareness, Exploration and Preparation tool. Oh, and don’t forget the students themselves! This course is chock-full of student voice tools like the Elementary Student Interest Inventory, Work Personality Evaluation and a tool for real talk with youth.

Illustrations Are Your Go-To

The child lives on in every one of us, and jumping to those illustration pages of any book is worth a thousand words and more! A comprehensive tool for your approach to including career pathway activities in your program can be found in Y4Y’s Career Pathways Activities Design Guidebook. While considering what’s age appropriate, begin by planning programming that fits in the categories of

  • Awareness activities — to provide opportunities for students to learn about themselves, real-world job expectations, and education and career options.
  • Exploration activities — to provide opportunities for students to actively explore education and career options to see what sparks their interest, and which options seem like a good fit.
  • Preparation activities — to provide opportunities for students to develop knowledge, skills and plans that will help them move toward their career goals.

So, as one illustration, even at the elementary level, students can be learning about specific jobs through guest speakers (awareness), taking a hands-on field trip to interact with professionals in action (exploration), and doing a problem-based learning project together to build their collaborative and communicating skills (preparation).

The End

Are you someone who reads the last page of a book first? Do you jump to it once you’ve gotten to know the characters? Or do you savor the ending only after you’ve read every word that comes before it? Whatever “cover” your students choose — a trade, the military, workforce advancement or college — your professional development around career pathways ends when you’re ready to train others! This course offers customizable staff trainings in building a culture and climate to support this work, planning age-appropriate activities and using self-assessment tools with students. Just remember: Trainings will be all the more rich and savory once you’ve completed the course!

Epilogue

The U.S. is course-correcting for decades of believing that everyone should be driven toward higher education. Trade professionals are better compensated than ever. Slowly, more resources are being provided to men and women transitioning from the military to civilian careers that their experience prepared them for. And companies everywhere are clamoring to hire young, trainable people who demonstrate 21st century skills, whether or not their education or training went beyond high school. A four-year university experience — and the expense that goes along with it — may not be the right “read” for some of your students. Armed with this new library of resources, your 21st CCLC program is the perfect place to get past those book covers and help students dive into the true substance of all genres of successful futures.



October 21, 2021

Will the wide receiver go long? Will the running back run it up the middle? What about a quarterback sneak? You’ve always got the Hail Mary in a pinch! Y4Y’s newest course on career pathways emphasizes that students have numerous, equally effective ways to score in the end zone. Six points are six points, however you get there!

Throw a Pass to Trades

Many young people have already discovered that going straight to college may not be the “obvious” choice it was once thought to be. An estimate of spring 2021 U.S. college enrollment revealed that 200,000 fewer women and a dramatic 400,000 fewer men were attending college from just one year earlier. The National Association of Workforce Boards notes:

“The nation’s home builders face a severe skilled labor shortage. Some of the jobs that are in highest demand are carpenters, electricians, HVAC and solar installers, plumbers, painters, and masonry workers. In the previous two quarters, unfilled positions in construction have averaged 275,000,” according to Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders.

The National Association of Workforce Boards says “it’s time for a major national focus on training new workers in the skilled building trades. First on the agenda must be a change in the perception of trade jobs. Too many high school students, and those who influence their decisions, never consider the opportunities available for well-paying jobs and promising careers in construction after graduation.”

Your 21st CCLC Goes Long

Does your program “influence the decisions” of your high school students while helping them make their own choices? You are if you’re meeting your goals! Y4Y’s new course walks you through a comprehensive and individualized approach to guiding students to the end zone. With pathways that wind through the trades, military, workforce and college, students can gain a broader-than-ever view of their options for the future. You’ll be setting up the play for both personal reflection and career exploration.

Cover the Player

Here are just a few tools you can use in your program to help students gain important insights about themselves through the first half.

After halftime, run the whole field by exploring careers and the right paths to get there with more course tools.

Texas coach Darrell Royal famously said, “There are three things that can happen on a forward pass — and two of them are bad.” Help your student complete that pass, wherever they are on the field, and keep their eye on the endzone. Your 21st CCLC program is the perfect place to help students understand that college is just one of many plays that can deliver them to a winning career and future.