Career readiness curriculum is one of the most popular education requirements in the United States right now.
Interestingly, it’s also one of the most difficult to create!
This is because career readiness is one of the newest subject areas to have standards assigned to it.
As a result, a career readiness curriculum can change from state to state, county to county, and even school to school.
This is why it’s so important to know how to create your own career readiness curriculum. Even if you’re lucky enough to have standards as a guideline, you still may have to create a full classroom syllabus from scratch!
So how do you do it?
To create a career readiness curriculum, you can break the entire concept down into seven actionable steps.
1. Create a Vision for How You Want the Class to Work
Whether you’re an architect, a carpenter, a CEO, or a teacher, the beginning to every creation process starts with the same step — vision.
We recommend starting by visualizing what you want to be the end result of the class.
For most career readiness instructors, that could be students simply passing your class.
For others, you may have to get your students to earn a career readiness certificate.
Once you know that end result, you can work backward from that ultimate goal to fill in the blanks with monthly, weekly, and daily tasks.
Still, the end result is just one goal your career readiness curriculum could have.
What about the rest of the marking period?
2. Define Your Curriculum’s Goals
Creating smaller goals for your curriculum is as simple as saying “I want my students to know this subject by that date.”
Once you have that statement, you can fill your curriculum to meet standards and even the curriculum hours you want to dedicate to different subjects.
You can also add formative and summative assessments to gauge the progress of students while ensuring no one falls through the cracks!
So let’s say you’re running this class in conjunction with your school’s guidance counselor(s).
You could have a “checkpoint” goal built into your curriculum that says they take a career aptitude test after learning about job seeking skills.
Maybe you want each student to participate in a mock interview after a unit on professionalism.
You could even quiz your students on the part of a paycheck to ensure they’re financially literate!
These benchmarks will mark smaller goals that your students can achieve in your curriculum as you build to the final outcome that you envisioned in the previous step.
Once you have those smaller goals ready to go, you can start filling in a few more blanks on your classroom syllabus!
3. Outline Lessons Needed to Meet Standards and / or Goals
So you know what you want to happen by the end of class. You know what your students should have learned by certain points in the marking period.
But what lessons and activities do you need to make those goals realistic?
This is perhaps the most daunting and difficult task when designing a curriculum.
Lesson planning is one of the most intricate and important parts of teaching. But it takes a long time, and even if you’re an experienced planner, you may wind up spending hours of your personal time hashing out lessons.
Fortunately, you have a few solutions on your hands.
To paraphrase Otis Kriegel of Western Governors University, you can pick what to “borrow” and what to make from scratch.
Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) is a great resource for this because they allow teachers to distribute or sell their most successful lesson plans.
Unfortunately, you usually have to pay for each lesson. That makes TpT a hard sell (for lack of a better term) for a lot of teachers.
You may also be able to find free, high-quality lesson plans online. But because career readiness is such a new subject area for schools, that’s a challenge all on its own.
The biggest advantage of TpT is that you know that the lesson plan works.
When you create one from scratch, you run the risk of the lesson being a dud, especially when you’re teaching career readiness for the first time.
Regardless of how you get your lesson plans ready, you’ll eventually have to work them into a timeline with your curriculum’s goals and end vision.
4. Assign Your Lessons to a Timeline
The timeline portion of your curriculum will essentially be a classroom syllabus.
It’ll explain exactly what you’re going to teach, what day you’ll teach it, and what homework would follow the lesson.
Completing this portion of your curriculum requires you to know exactly how many curriculum or classroom hours you’ll have to teach in a marking period.
Then, you can more accurately map out the lessons that you bought, found, or created into a solid sequence.
This timeline also requires you to integrate your teaching methodology.
The order of lessons you pursue will change depending on whether you use scaffolding learning, blended learning, differentiated instruction, or another teaching strategy.
It’ll take time, but it’s an essential curriculum creation step that leads you to another important question.
What additional resources will you need throughout the marking period?
5. Determine the Resources You’ll Need
Resources are scarce, valued, and important in any school in the United States.
But it’s important to realize that the term “resources” doesn’t just refer to instructional materials like books or worksheets.
It can also refer to computer labs, tablets, or even the time of a classroom speaker (like a small business owner).
These are all different resources that you can use in the classroom, and they all require you to make plans, schedules, and arrangements.
The sooner you know which resources you’ll need at what time, the sooner you can start scheduling.
Starting quickly with your scheduling gives you a massive bonus over other teachers who may wait to request resources for their classrooms.
Most shared resources (like laptops) are divvied out at first-come, first-serve basis. Reserving a laptop or tablet cart four months in advance practically guarantees that you’ll get it.
On top of that, your colleagues and community members are busy people. It’s not that they’re unavailable — they just have their own work and lives!
When you can reach out to them months ahead of time, you give both colleagues and classroom visitors the opportunity to plan for their interaction with your class.
Plus, they can add it to their personal calendars without worrying if it conflicts with any of their upcoming plans.
This can be a nerve-wracking moment in curriculum development because it’s hard to have a Plan B for every lesson or activity you’d like to do.
But when you start early enough, you won’t need a Plan B anyway!
6. Request Purchases as Needed
While your school’s up-for-grab resources may be free of charge to use, you may still need additional resources to fill in a few gaps.
Let’s be honest — that means someone has to buy something.
You may have a classroom budget. If you do, hopefully the resources you need can fit into that budget.
You may also have a department budget, which means you’ll probably have to file a request with your department head.
Beyond that, you may have to use a school budget, which gets complicated since you’re going up against everyone else in your building who wants to buy something.
But those are just local opportunities.
You can still make purchases for career readiness curriculum resources by looking into special funding options.
These options include Perkins funding, the career and technical education (CTE) grant from the federal government that gets issued every year.
(Please note: Career readiness is such a new curriculum option that many states differ in whether it qualifies for Perkins funds. Check with your administrator or supervisor if you’re not sure!)
Many schools and school districts have access to this funding, and it’s often available for any subject area related to CTE.
In many states and school districts, career readiness is also qualified for Perkins Funding.
If you can’t find any budget options for your resources, don’t pay out of pocket.
Check in with a colleague, supervisor, or department head to figure out what your other options may be!
Once you have your purchases all lined up, it’s time to embark on the last step of career readiness curriculum craftsmanship.
7. Review & Fill in the Gaps
You’re in the home stretch! The hard work is already done in the last six steps — now you just need to review your drafted curriculum.
The key elements to review are:
- Your vision for the class
- Your goals throughout the class
- The lessons you’ve planned
- The resources require for those lessons
- Additional purchases you have to make
- Overall curriculum hours
- Standards from your state or school
- Aligning with your supervisor’s expectations
You can do all of this by going back over your curriculum on your own or contacting your supervisor, department head, or principal.
Then, once you’re done, it’s time for the fun part.
It’s time to teach!
But at the end of the day, all of this is almost exhausting, isn’t it?
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a shortcut to creating a career readiness curriculum for your classroom?
Well, you’re in luck…
The Easy Button for Career Readiness Curriculum: AES
Creating career readiness curriculum by hand can take a lot of time and a ton of trial and error.
If you’ve never taught career readiness before, making a curriculum can also be awfully uncomfortable!
Fortunately, Business&ITCenter21 is here to back you up!
Business&ITCenter21 is a digital curriculum system packed with pre-made content that covers lessons, assessment, homework, and activities.
You access it through an Internet-connected device’s web browser, and your students can do the same.
Whether you’re on a computer, phone, or tablet, you can teach students the intricacies of professionalism, personal financial literacy, digital literacy, and a whole lot more.
Best of all, you’ll even get all the bells and whistles that make teaching easier — features like automatic grading, student activity tracking, and on-demand reporting!
Want to learn more?
Just check out the AES career readiness curriculum for yourself!