Happy Summer to you!
I hope to feed this blog more in the coming days. First up -- is a book review of Kenneth Gray's "Getting Real: Helping Teens Find Their Future."
I found this book on Amazon by chance, and I have not been able to put it down! Mind you, this is the second edition, and there are probably more updated versions. I don't think there is a page that doesn't have highlights or markings or the word "YES!!!" on the peripheries. This is one of the books I've been looking for.
It's not written specifically for students with disabilities. It is premised on the importance of career planning at the high school level. It begins with a discussion of career maturity, which I found refreshing. I think the idea of "career maturity" (i.e. a student that would like to be an NBA basketball player who has never played basketball vs a student who wants to be a veterinary technician and is involved in the veterinary science to some degree) is much more relatable than Super's concept of career development stages. It began with a conversation about the importance of teaching students to be career mature, and helping to bring this change about by the 10th grade (such an important year, I'm learning). It also has a deep discussion about the job market.
There is so much to write and so many things to celebrate about this book, but my major take away from Gray's teachings are the sentence cues to use with students who are plagued by anxiety at the thought of postsecondary transition. I'll share his 4 principles below, and I hope that they help your conversations also:
1. The goal is to make the best tentative decision now based on what you know about yourself and the labor market ahead. For most, this will be just the first decision in a process of making the final decision in the years ahead.
2. For most, the likelihood that this tentative career decision will be the final decision and you will end up pursuing this career is probably not even 50%. But if you are willing to tackle making the first tentative decision now, the next decision will be a better decision. You may end up changing college majors or even transferring to different institutions, but this will be a positive change toward a well-thought-out career goal.
3. The alternative is to do nothing, which only postpones the problem but does nothing to work toward a solution. Doing nothing is a decision.
4. The tentative decision is just the first decision. It is not irrevocable; it will not doom you. Many very successful men and women started with a different career plan and even earned degrees to do so, but successfully changed direction. But note that they did make the first decision. (Kenneth Gray)
I've often framed transition as one of the most exciting times in a young person's life, but I love these principles even more. When we are asking students "what they want to be" when they grow up, it is so hard to pick one because students see it as a marriage, or a divorce, where they have to make a choice that they will need to commit to for the rest of their life. This logic makes sense, and it retrospect, I wish I would have heard these words 10 years ago to ease my anxieties about just choosing something.
If you support students in transition and want the off-the-grid, non-college standpoint (although the college standpoint is also nurtured in this text as well), I highly recommend you pick up this book. It was enlightening, practical, and useful.