Teachers should prioritize ways to connect classrooms to careers to engage and motivate students by showing them when they will actually use the concepts they’re learning.
Seeing students’ eyes light up when they finally grasp a concept, or the beaming pride they show when receiving a test score reflective of their hard work is awesome. Covering the content outlined in your state’s standards is obviously important, but being able to answer students when they ask “When will I ever use this?” is key to creating curiosity and intrinsic motivation in your subject area. Teachers can connect classrooms to careers in some simple ways to engage their students in new and exciting ways.
1. Uncover Their STEM Types
Before taking any other steps to connect classrooms to careers, matching student interests with particular STEM types is important. Most kids don’t enjoy exams, but through taking the STEM Type Quiz, students will have fun figuring out how STEM will fit into their professional careers. Upon completing the quiz, students will find descriptions each of the eight STEM types, including featured careers with salary information in a wide variety of industries. Through helping students identify the type of career they are likely to enjoy, teachers will be able to research and gather the appropriate resources to connect classrooms to careers.
2. Be a Career-Prep Resource
Research opportunities for juniors and seniors to secure internships with companies in your area. For younger students, organize a list of volunteer opportunities, or organizations that are community based, such as theater groups, zoos, or museums, which provide the chance for kids to gain hands-on experience. Ask students who engage in this preparatory work to share their experiences with classmates through presentations that will connect classrooms to careers. Remember, submitting an excellent letter of recommendation from a teacher could help students land that perfect internship, so make sure you feel confident writing one.
3. Apply for an Externship
A teacher’s work is never done, and while fieldwork might be part of an educator’s preparation for graduation from a teaching program; workshops, additional classes, and conferences are all necessary to maintain sharp skills. Prepare to connect classrooms to careers by applying for a teacher externship with different companies and organizations. The University of California, Berkeley published a comprehensive “Teacher Externship Guide,” which explains the concept, purpose, and benefits of teacher externships; how to apply; and what to do while onsite at each company.
4. Bring a STEM Professional to Class
Inviting speakers to class provides a break from the standard school schedule, but it also allows students to meet with informed adults who can offer a connection to the professional world. Reach out to professionals who can visit and connect classrooms to careers in STEM. Also, take a chance and reach out to C-level executives and STEM celebrities. Simply sending an email to a well-known STEM professional and following up with a telephone call could be perfect timing that aligns with a business trip they are planning to take in the local area. Students can also benefit from virtual field trips to visit STEM professionals who are working on location in remote sites – an excellent opportunity to connect classrooms to careers in STEM!
5. Subscribe to STEM Jobs!
Teachers love this site for its informative stories regarding education, but the print edition of STEM Jobs and full line of STEM Jobs resources offer rich content to encourage students to pursue STEM fields. Through interviews with some of STEM’s most innovative leaders, Hot Jobs posters, and project-based lesson plans to help you connect classrooms to careers, STEM Jobs provides a place for students to pinpoint what it is they love to do now and how this will translate into what they want to become in the future.
Once students discover their STEM type and examine how to apply it to an activity they love, their interests must be cultivated to avoid losing momentum. Many kids experience a drop off in interest regarding these subjects during junior high and high school, therefore helping them connect classrooms to careers is crucial to STEM success.