Xello Webinars

Using Work-Based Learning to Prepare Students for Career Success

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    Key Takeaways

    • Learn how to build a work-based learning program from the ground up in your district.
    • Tackle remote learning head-on and discover how to keep students engaged in work-based learning from home.
    • Determine how to track your success, key metrics, and outcomes.

    What This Webinar Is All About

    Giving students access to work-based opportunities helps bridge the gap between education and the real-world leading to better classroom engagements. When students have the chance to experience responsibilities associated with occupations of interest they can get a real feel for a career field and what it entails.

    In this Xello Remote Roundtable, we’ll discuss the strategies and tactics required to deliver a modern, high-quality work-based learning experience. Come away with actionable ways to initiate and manage a work-based learning program that helps students discover the real- world of work and develop employability skills for success.

    • Hannah Chan

      Hannah Chan

      Program Coordinator, Office of College and Career Readiness at Saint Paul Public Schools

    • Laura Barker

      Laura Barker

      Teaching Specialist, College and Career Readiness, Wichita USD 259 Kansas

    • Stacy Smith

      Stacy Smith

      Assistant Director-CTE/IPS Career Standards and Assessment Services, Kansas State Department of Education

    Webinar Recap

    • Hannah Chan

      Hannah Chan

      Program Coordinator, Office of College and Career Readiness at Saint Paul Public Schools

    • Laura Barker

      Laura Barker

      Teaching Specialist, College and Career Readiness, Wichita USD 259 Kansas

    • Stacy Smith

      Stacy Smith

      Assistant Director-CTE/IPS Career Standards and Assessment Services, Kansas State Department of Education

    • If you’re venturing to build a work-based learning program, what are the components you need to consider in your initial strategy?

      Developing a work-based learning program from scratch can be overwhelming.

      Before diving in and creating a program, Baker suggested educators should “look internally first” as there are things happening in school that may not be counted or tracked such as in-class speakers or class trips. 

      As a school system develops a program, it is also important to determine if it is for all students or some students. For Chan and St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS), they first started with a small group of students. When they ramped up the program to include everyone, they were able to apply what they learned. 

      Today, work-based learning starts in pre-K for SPPS students. 

      Worked-based learning is a continuum of various career related experiences,” said Chan. 

      The process includes many partners which is why Smith emphasized listening and collaborating with community partners. That starts with an awareness of the available community resources. 

      “Assess who your partners are and how to convene with them so that you have a shared goal,” stressed Smith.

      Internships, a key element of work-based learning for high school aged students, can be challenging to line up. 

      Barker added that preparation is the key to getting employers to agree to offering internships. “… if you can provide employers something that shows what an internship looks like and what their commitment is – we have an ideal schedule for a job shadow template – it makes businesses more open rather than simply asking if you would take on a student.”

      At SPPS, the district has created an advisory committee made up of community leaders and businesses. Through this committee, educators have learned how important it is to have a career themed curriculum for all classes and content areas because students have noted they don’t see the connection between school courses and real-world skills. The advisory committee has offered input on curriculum and helped design relevant classroom projects. 

      She encourages students and adults to, “think about what has been helpful and what can I apply that I have learned to the future.”

      Focusing on what we can control has been a mantra for Jackson. Prioritizing has also been helpful, and she talked about how she is focused on the district’s mission, goals, and standards.

    • Was there anything you tried when building and rolling out your work-based learning program that worked well for your school district? Anything that didn’t quite work so well?

      It’s important to get buy-in from all parties involved in providing work-based learning, including teachers. 

      At SPPS, a couple of high schools used a creative approach to get all parties on board. Before school started in August, teachers and other school personnel were talking to a corporate partner who agreed to host them for a day. 

      “We had breakout sessions with our business partners who explained what they are looking for in students and how teachers can help them,” said Chan. 

      The partners also suggested some assignments that might be helpful to make connections for students. This experience helped teachers get a better understanding of why they were doing what they were doing and led to more buy-in.

      There are many factors that determine if an internship is successful. “It starts with vetting work-based learning experience, and doing background checks,” said Smith. 

      Chan added that it’s important to give students a voice, so they can share why an experience was successful or not. At SPPS, they do this via student surveys and focus groups. 

    • What recommendations can you offer on how to engage students to deliver work-based learning in a remote environment?

      With many schools operating remotely either throughout the school year or periodically, work based learning programs have had to adapt as well. 

      “We have to dig in and do custom work to support our students’ success,” said Smith. 

      One way to support that success is by simply talking to students. Barker believes talking to the students can be a real eye opener as they’re an excellent source for ideas on how to deliver-work based learning. 

      “They have great ideas of what it looks like and what they would like to see.”

      At SPPS, after many internships were canceled this past summer, the district pivoted and created a program called ‘earn as you learn.’ 

      The program had various elements including completing an industry recognized course or certification. It was estimated that the program would take 25-35 hours to complete and the entire project could be completed online from home. If students completed the program, they received $300. 

      “Students spoke highly of the experience,” said Chan. “The certificate made them feel like they accomplished something tangible, and it gave them something to put on their resume.”

      Wichita Public Schools did something similar, and they plan on continuing it post pandemic. “We are going to offer something similar to our 14 and 15-year-olds for whom it’s harder to find work experiences,” said Barker. 

      If you can provide employers something that shows what an internship looks like and what their commitment is ... it makes businesses more open rather than simply asking if you would take on a student.

      Laura Barker

      Laura Barker, Teaching Specialist, College and Career Readiness, Wichita USD 259 Kansas

    • Can you share some key metrics or outcomes you track to assess the impact of your work-based learning program?

      These days, data seems to be the answer for everything.

      And in SPPS, administrators track an immense amount of data.

      “One reason for doing this is to ensure all students have opportunities for career exploration,” said Chan. 

      They found that outgoing students, as opposed to quiet students, were securing most of the internships. 

      Other things that were tracked included wages, number of hours, and which pathway internship is most followed to determine where more partners are needed.

      Career visits (meaningful or not) were tracked as well as who is earning college credits, where students go after high school and if they continue to pursue academics beyond high school. 

      “Employers desperately want students to have soft skills,” said Smith. 

      The state uses a rubric for student self-assessment, business and industry mentor assessment, and teacher evaluations so a student gets three different perspectives of feedback on their employability skills that align with the state’s SEL growth measures.  

      “We’ve shifted to one-on-one Zoom based events and have had an outpouring of positive response,” she said. 

      In Barbazon’s district, certain state metrics were dropped both this school year and last. Yet, they don’t want to send the message to students that these should not be considered. 

      “We want to instill a sense of normalcy and continue on with programming,” she said.

      However, they have been very intentional about SEL. That includes looking at the classroom culture of each individual class. 

      “We want to cultivate a classroom culture where students feel valued, heard and respected, are more engaged, and able to move on to core content work and future planning activities,” said Barbazon.

      Jackson agreed about the need to find normalcy. In her district, educators were challenged by leadership to think creatively and use their strengths as they adjusted to this unusual year. That led to greater use of technology to put on annual events that the community has come to expect.

      Each quarter, the district focused on an SEL topic which helps guide their Xello lessons and career and academic lessons and SEL lessons. They got student input on this and greater buy in.

    • What resources and tools can you share with our audience that can help them initiate and manage a work-based learning program?

      Each of the three panelists mentioned Xello’s work-based learning module. 

      “Xello’s work-based learning module is exactly what we need to engage and make opportunities available to students. It also serves as an organization tool for students’ IPS,” said Smith. 

      Barker appreciated the tool because it’s easy to manage and input information. 

      “Students can enter information into their experience timeline and storyboard and now everyone can see it. Because we all can see the information, it brings us out of our individual silos and enables everyone to do a better job of helping the students.”

      “We use Xello’s work based learning to advertise student internship opportunities and teacher externship opportunities so teachers can see what’s available to them,” said Chan.

      The year ahead may be a challenging one, but educators are banding together to create strategies to support students and provide them with robust work-based learning opportunities. 

    About Xello

    We have over 20 years of experience helping schools achieve national and state standards for college and career readiness. Our program has been used by districts across the country to help meet mandates, increase achievement and prepare students for success.

    Our Education Consultants and Success Managers are knowledgeable about mandates in every state. They can show you how to implement Xello to meet your district requirements.