Lessons Learned: When Students Teach the Teacher

By David Veling

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to partner with a teacher of 14 – 18 year-olds in a largely self-contained program. With more than 40 years of Special Education experience between the two of us, we felt confident that we could put together a meaningful, impactful course plan that would develop self-determination and soft skills and lead to increased independence in employment after high school. We had a well-thought-out set of skills, a logical progression in which they built upon one another, and a sincere belief that we could accommodate, modify, scaffold, or otherwise individualize our lessons to engage and support every learner in the room.

For all of our preparation and certainty of success, our first lesson was a disaster. But it led to honest reflection, and a new plan based on three key strategies that been transformative. Continue reading “Lessons Learned: When Students Teach the Teacher”

Developing Strong Personal Brands

by Edward Wilson

manny _ claireLet’s say you are an employer and you just interviewed two potential candidates for a position at your company. Candidate X is professionally dressed, is qualified for the position, shows enthusiasm, and asks great questions. Candidate Y is almost exactly the same as Candidate X, except for the fact that candidate Y seems unfriendly and has social media accounts that contain lots of complaints about his school.

Perhaps candidate Y simply had a terrible morning and does really go to a school that merits criticism.  And, candidate Y may in fact be the better person for the job.  However, based on the information available at the time most employers will choose candidate X. In the end the difference between getting a job offer and not getting one is usually very subtle, which is why young people need help understanding how to effectively develop and display a positive personal brand.  Here are some strategies for helping teens and young adults understand personal brands so that they can market themselves to employers. Continue reading “Developing Strong Personal Brands”

Collaborative Learning: The Art of Letting Go

by Allen Fowler

at desk 03I worried the most about the one table, four students – two with cognitive challenges, three with notable social anxiety, all marginalized for one reason or another in their experience of school. Mastering my anxiety when turning over control to students doesn’t come naturally to me.  And they were going to be working as group for the next three days of Signal Success career readiness training. By the end of the first day, however, I started to let go of my concerns. By the end of the third day, after fifteen hours of working around the table together, these youth showed me flashes of collaborative brilliance.  In reporting out, they respectfully offered those needing it a bit more time to articulate their thoughts, one youth visibly softened his demeanor as he stepped into a leadership role during a negotiation exercise, and, at one point or another, all four smiled at having an idea taken down, a suggestion implemented, or a contribution acknowledged.  Collaborative learning provides the space for real time development of the soft-skills essential to success in school, work, and life.  Here are some tips around letting go and capturing the results:

Continue reading “Collaborative Learning: The Art of Letting Go”

Are you a spender or saver?

by Anne Berrigan

credit card 01It turns out that it may not matter to your financial well-being whether you spend or save. But in either case, to manage money well you need to create financial goals intentionally–and track them consistently. And start early. All three strategies are part of a new focus on financial capability in youth employment programs across the country.

The term financial capability is often used now instead of ‘financial literacy’ in an effort to promote practices that combine education and asset building behaviors. Financial capability is defined as the knowledge, skills, and access to resources needed to manage financial responsibilities effectively. With the help of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has outlined examples of how youth employment programs can help participants build financial capability: Continue reading “Are you a spender or saver?”

The Self-Reflective Tool in our Metacognitive Toolbox

By David Veling

toolbox.04Outside of education, most adults may not talk much about metacognition, but it is likely to be an important aspect in their day-to-day life. If we think about metacognition as a toolbox, containing many different tools to help us understand how our mind works, one of the most important is self-reflection. When done well, self-reflection delves into our motivation and decision-making process and sheds light on misunderstanding and new learning. For many youth, this is a missing or underutilized tool, which often leads to repeated mistakes, misunderstandings, and missed opportunities in life, school and early career development. To help youth effectively apply self-reflection, we need to be able to point to clear applications and strategies of self-reflection. Continue reading “The Self-Reflective Tool in our Metacognitive Toolbox”

Teaching Teens to Take the Initiative

by Jennifer Applebaum

carla01 (c)In Commonwealth Corporation’s 2013 study of over 200 employers, initiative rose to the top of employer identified problems. 49% of employers agreed with the statement that “Teens have less initiative” as compared to other statements like “Teens take longer to train” with which only 9% of employers agreed.  Many employers also raise the specific concern that younger workers are less likely to productively redirect themselves during downtime As such, increasing students’ abilities to demonstrate initiative is an important objective for career readiness programs, and we have developed some strategies to help students build the practice of demonstrating initiative. Continue reading “Teaching Teens to Take the Initiative”