(You can find the full text of the 3LPlace Curriculum section on Work and Career here.)
In this module, we focus on exploring and developing work and career paths. In our Curriculum, we consider it essential that each student has the opportunity to pursue jobs or careers that are personally meaningful and interesting. We accomplish this by focusing on each student as an individual, examining their passions and goals, strengths and challenges, as we support them to explore and develop their career interests and skills as workers. By taking this approach, we increase motivation, independence, personal satisfaction, and self-determination.
This module seeks to increase awareness, to enable students to reflect, stretch their thinking, self-evaluate, and begin to make informed choices. This cognitive work in other modules of the Curriculum prepares them for adventures of trial and error and to experiment to find what tasks, environments, and experiences feel rewarding and which cause challenges.
In most cases, creating real, personally meaningful work and career possibilities requires taking the time and necessary steps to construct a solid foundation. Traditionally, work and career exploration involves taking inventory of one’s skills and interests, conducting lots of research, completing questionnaires, making site visits, and drawing upon executive function support and other commonly used tools and methods. In this curriculum, we incorporate additional key ingredients into the process to ensure the experience is positive, motivating, and ultimately successful for each student:
- Placing high value on curiosity, creativity, passion, and personal preference
- Leading with individual strengths and finding creative ways to acknowledge and address challenges
- Supporting flexibility and resiliency: trial and error, trying new things, changing one’s mind, going in a different direction, and learning from experiences that did not go well
- Accepting that this process is dynamic — interests change and shift as students grow, learn, become interested in new things, and discover new talents
- Underscoring that work and career choices come from thoughts, feelings, sensations, and opinions generated within us. There is no external rulebook for what career or job we are supposed to have.
- Modeling a healthy balance of optimism and realism
- Informing students about the types of work supports that are available for people with disabilities and about the right to accommodation in the workplace, and helping them determine what might be appropriate for them.
- Emphasizing that career choice is something that can be re-evaluated at any time and that most people will change their job and/or career several times during their lifetime
- Infusing the process with joy, humor, enthusiasm, and wonder.
Working together through this module, students and staff will begin at the foundational level focusing on interests and passions, strengths and challenges. At that time, background investigation begins, followed by exploration that is more field based. These two processes enable students and staff to examine options through the lens of reality-based considerations such as suitability and opportunity. Once a career or job is selected, staff and student review the requirements to confirm or modify selection, and develop goals and an action plan for beginning work. Once in a job, the student and staff continue to evaluate, reflect, and make changes where necessary.
Table of contents:
Wish list for lesson plans/ancillary materials for this section
- Relationships at work
- Regulation at work