This post is written by the Fleck Education and Thomas P. Miller & Associates, a Gold Level sponsor of the 2018 Advance CTE Fall Meeting.
School counselors find connecting learners with Career Technical Education (CTE) coursework and career pathways to be an effective career advising and development strategy. Yet, few counselors are able to make these connections. In their report, “The State of Career Technical Education” Career Advising and Development,” Advance CTE and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) looked to see if states and their school counselors are using effective strategies, finding that more than half (58 percent) of states believe “they are only somewhat effectively serving K-12 learners with career advising and development systems” and less than 30 percent of middle school counselors connect students with CTE coursework or career pathways, despite the fact that the majority (87 percent) of those who use this strategy find it effective or extremely effective.
In their study of school counselors’ perceptions of competency in career counseling, Morgan, Greenwaldt, and Gosselin (2014) found that while school counselors did not identify specific training areas that would have helped them, they did acknowledge that continuing education was imperative based on what they received in their graduate preparation programs. Overall, they mostly relied on their professional networks for support, describing casual, question-and-answer partnerships being used most frequently.
As providers of professional development, we witnessed this desire to consult and collaborate in our recent work conducting workshops with local State CTE Directors and school counselors. Overwhelmingly, school counselors appreciated having a facilitated “nuts and bolts” discussion about CTE and programs of study, but especially valued being given the time to collaborate with one another. This was reflected in a sample of their feedback on what they found helpful:
- “Solutions to challenges instead of just defining problems;
- [Obtaining] “need-to-know” information. I also liked that we were able to ask questions, confirm ideas, etc.;
- It was nice to collaborate with other counselors;
- Being able to hear about what others are doing with success;
- Being able to talk to fellow counselors; and
- Brainstorming with fellow educators.”
Because Advance CTE is recommending more effective professional development and resources to school counselors, and the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) now requires the provision of professional development for a wide variety of CTE professionals, CTE programs of study might consider the following opportunities:
- Provide professional development to currently practicing school counselors through workshops or webinars. Allow for time to be devoted to collaboration and sharing;
- Identify if there is a formal or informal communication system among school counselors in the state—a listserv or website. Consider creating a listserv for counselors geared toward career counseling and advising;
- Reach out to all school counselors at all levels – elementary, middle and high school – with developmentally appropriate information on CTE. For example, for elementary school counselors, it could be as simple as guidance on designing a field trip to a CTE program or center;
- Partner with your state’s school counselor association or become a sponsor of their statewide conference. Present at their conferences or professional development opportunities; and
- Collaborate with school counselor education programs in your state, particularly the faculty who teach the career theory/development course. This is a required course for all school counselor education graduate programs and is typically taught by faculty who focus on theory with little to no opportunity for real-world application.
Finally, professional development that focuses on the practical skills of career counseling will help fill the knowledge gap experienced by most of today’s working school counselors. This could include a “refresher” on interpreting career assessment results, how to have developmentally appropriate career conversations with students, and identifying connections between Career Clusters® or areas of interest.
Fleck Education and Thomas P. Miller & Associates will attend the 2018 Advance CTE Fall Meeting in Baltimore scheduled for October 22-24, 2018. For more information on our services, please contact Kelly Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.