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 New Series Helps Educators Bring Learning to Life for Middle School Students

Career pathways in middle school help make learning come to life for students, and a new offering from the San Diego County Office of Education aims to help teachers, counselors, and administrators expand this important area.

Participants in the three-day Middle School Career and College Readiness series will leave equipped with best practices for career exploration, work-based learning, and adding career context to content delivery, as well as strategies for developing students' knowledge and passion for college.

"That is particularly important in the midst of a changing economy and workplace," said SDCOE Executive Leadership Coach Bernadette Nguyen. "Jobs are being created that have never existed before, and the rate of change is faster than we can imagine. The traditional model of preparing students for a particular trade or job no longer prepares students for the ever-changing environment of the work market."

Developing in students a mindset of connecting their talents, passion, and interest to solving real world problems offers them a wider view of their future, and places the control of that future in the students' hands. The Middle School Career and College Readiness series is founded on this principle and will help educators revisit their roles in preparing students for career and college.

The series aims to marry the intent of Career Technical Education to the learning of content subjects, students' talents and interests, and the work market. An integrated approach complements core subject knowledge acquisition and allows students a greater understanding and purpose for learning because they understand why the content subject matters and how it connects to the world they see beyond the classroom walls, Nguyen said.

This is also a holistic approach, added Nguyen. "As educators, we must look at each individual child's strengths and interests, and from there, show them what the future can offer, guiding them through the process of planning for that future, and designing school curriculum and learning that helps students see how the learning today affects what happens to them tomorrow."

But why focus on college and career readiness in middle school?

Supporting the development of a student's career and college skills and strategies can't be delayed until high school because students today need these skills to succeed in rigorous high school courses designed to prepare them for postsecondary education and career, said Nguyen.

"It requires early discussions and intentional guidance for students and parents that allow them to connect the student's talents and passions to school success and career," she said. "K-12 educators hold the key to ensuring that students are prepared for their future."

View the flier to learn more about the Middle School Career and College Readiness series, which begins Feb. 6.