As schools across the country delve into a new year, I want to bring my readers back to teaching basics with Part 2 of my Three R’s series on Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships. Here's Part 1. As students flood our halls and classrooms, are they eager and excited for the challenging year ahead? Do they lament the end of carefree summer days? Or are they simply focused on how they can capture the attention of the guy or girl they have had a crush on since last year? Teachers enter classrooms refreshed and energized, but enthusiasm alone will not garner buy-in from our students. We need to sell them on the value of what they are learning by connecting the dots through real world relevance. How is this curriculum relevant to our students’ interests, backgrounds or futures? Kids may go through the motions of learning, but will not truly believe what we are teaching them until we make it relevant to the real world.
There are endless ways that teachers can make curriculum more relevant with a little added effort. I have seen lesson plans swirling through the internet regarding the recent Southeast earthquake and Hurricane Irene. Whether they are the focus of lessons in science, math, social studies, or English, they are a timely and interesting start to the year. However, when I think of the finest examples of relevance in the classroom, I have to highlight the subject matter I taught for the past seven years, Career and Technical Education (CTE). In no other content area do I see more cross-curricular infusion of math and literacy skills combined with a focus on college and career readiness. CTE teachers have the joy and challenge of teaching diverse students of mixed grades and ability levels. We also have an “ace in the hole” with cross-industry student organizations that extend rich learning experiences beyond the physical and time boundaries of schools:
- Business Professionals of America
- (FBLA) Future Business Leaders of America
- Future Educators Association
- Family, Career, Community Leaders of America
- Health Occupations Students of America
- National FFA
- Nat’l Postsecondary Agricultural Student Org.
- National Young Farmer Educational Association
- Technology Student Association (TSA)
When I taught high school business, marketing, and computer software courses, I had bright entrepreneurs who actually earned income through their own landscaping and construction businesses. I had classes that earned over $25,000 for our school through events such as Battle of the Bands, Fashion Shows, and fundraisers for Habitat for Humanity, food banks, and disaster relief organizations. Connecting students to the community, world of work, college prep, financial literacy, and sound citizenry is what CTE is all about.
SAS has recognized the need to offer relevant courses to prepare students to be college and career ready through SAS Programming for High School.
“SAS has opened a new world of programming to students, where they can see the cross over between the classroom and real world applications,” - Sharon Jones, SAS Programming HS Institute Graduate and CTE Teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
The SAS Programming courses are included by the NC Department of Public Instruction, the NC Virtual School, the SC Department of Education, and a growing number of private schools and state education agencies as part of their course offerings. SAS trains teachers over five days every summer and offers internationally recognized certification exams, which correlate with the high school courses. With teacher training and relevant curriculum, today’s students will no longer “learn to do” but rather “do to learn.” I am proud that SAS is contributing to this effort.
“My high school SAS class helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my life … computer science.” - Samantha Heck, Apex High School Graduate, NC