Four Goals for Teaching Success

By Kisner, Mary | Techniques, February 1998 | Go to article overview

Four Goals for Teaching Success


Kisner, Mary, Techniques


These four goals can help vocational teachers reevaluate their professional roles and encourage them to collaborate with their colleagues.

Professional development for vocational teachers should not be limited to a summer college course and four in-service days during the school year. Not only is constant professional development essential to a teacher's success, it's a responsibility. Industry changes frequently - if not daily - with new materials, technologies and procedures. Teachers must read, network with other professionals and have hands-on experiences in their fields to stay current. They also must keep abreast of new developments in education reform, curriculum development and teaching and learning strategies.

For teachers to grow professionally, they must establish and pursue four goals.

* Teachers must know all aspects of the industry related to their field.

* Teachers must emphasize how to apply academic skills to industry.

* Teachers must think beyond the classroom.

* Teachers must reach out to their academic colleagues.

The first of these four goals is especially important considering the rapid rate of emerging technologies. Every industry is constantly changing as new materials and procedures develop. For example, computerized diagnostics for engines have completely changed the auto mechanics industry. And, in addition to this shift in technical skills, the so-called soft skills (communication, teamwork and customer service skills) have become even more critical to any company's success. Auto repair shops depend on employees not only to diagnose and repair, but also to communicate and explain estimates and procedures to the customer.

In fulfilling this first goal, teachers should participate in summer internships with local business. Not only is the industry experience important, teachers also are making contacts within the business. These contacts might end up being guest speakers in the classroom or members of an advisory board.

Teachers also should be avid readers of technical journals and industry publications. And, whenever possible, teachers should attend professional conferences and seminars to keep abreast of trends in their fields. They also should surf the Internet for information. Some useful sites include the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://stats.bls.gov) and O*NET (www.dolete.gov/programs/onet). Both of these include information about occupational trends. The National Employer Leadership Council (www.nelc.org) has a program called the Employer Participation Model that facilitates the connections between teachers and employers. For example, the NELC program can help arrange for industry guest speakers or work-site visits for students. These kinds of experiences help students better prepare for their chosen career path.

The next goal is emphasizing how academic skills apply to industry. Math, science, communication and workplace skills should be a part of vocational curriculum. …

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