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Diasporian News Thu, 27 Oct 2016

It is Transition Time for Grade 8 and High School Students

It is Transition Time for Grade 8 and High School Students: Courses Selection and Optional Attendance!

Very soon students in Middle and High Schools will be choosing courses and selecting schools/universities which will prepare them ultimately for successful careers in life. Such act of creating pathways to success by students ought to be carefully thought out and planned to achieve the desired goals. Thus, there must be an education and career/life planning program to support student success! There is also opportunity for students preparing to enter high school next school year to choose high schools with special fields of studies outside their residential area schools to continue their education. That special process is known as optional attendance. Some students and some ‘uninformed’ parents in our community often miss out on this all important process and eventually beaten by the deadline set. This discourse briefly highlights some important steps students can follow with the help of parents when creating pathways to success as well as seeking optional attendance.

It is said that, “What students believe about themselves and their opportunities, and what their peers and the adults in their lives believe about them, significantly influences the choices they make and the degree to which they are able to achieve their goals.” How true!! Such great influence must not be overlooked. It is for that reason that the Ontario government has developed an educational policy which envisages all students leave secondary school with a clear plan for their initial postsecondary destination. With a clear plan, a student, after high school education, can enter into apprentice training, college, university or the workplace. The student also is empowered to make changes for his/her future by revising such plan.

I have had the privilege many times to talk about transition from, especially, the elementary school level to high school and from the high school level to college/university on community radio stations in Toronto, Canada and the influx of questions on the subject from parents had been overwhelming. So what can we do as teachers and as parents/guardians to help students to create pathways to success as they go through the various transitions in their educational journey? What is the process of Optional Attendance?

As Teachers:

Teachers are facilitators of learning in the classrooms. Their influence on students as far as learning is concerned is very crucial. Teachers must therefore ensure that students develop the knowledge and skills they (students) need to make informed education and career/life choices. In this wise, teachers ought to expose their students to ‘Economic for Success’ and/or career cruising or search. My experience with Junior Achievement of Canada working with Grade 8 students in my school is one of the ways that I think teachers can embrace to achieve such purpose. As teachers, we have to provide classroom and school-wide opportunities for this learning.

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Above all, we (educationists) need to engage parents and the broader community in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the program of creating pathways to success, to support students in their learning.

As Parents/Students (Curriculum Nights & Blueprint):

Many Ghanaian parents in our communities fail to attend Curriculum Nights and Open Nights at their children’s schools when very important pieces of information about their school work and programs are revealed! Parents ought to encourage their children (students) to discover who (students) they are? What opportunities are there for them (the students)? What they want to become? And what are their plans for achieving their goals?

Students will have to create and maintain an Individual Pathways Plan (IPP) during Grades 7 to 12. According to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), the IPP becomes the planning tool for course selection, goal setting and postsecondary destination planning. The TDSB, for example, has provided its students with an electronic version of the IPP through www.myBlueprint.ca/tdsb. The IPP Tracker provides grade-specific activities to complete in order to build an effective education plan annually. Students are able to do this from their homes! Congratulations to TDSB! I hope other school boards and Ministries of Education around the world could emulate such a shining example.

Optional Attendance:

In the Western world, students have the right to attend a school which is designated to serve their residential address. According to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) where I work, “Students also have the opportunity to access schools outside of the school that is designated to serve their residential address by applying on optional attendance. Acceptance at these schools is subject to space availability and program suitability.” Visit www.tdsb.on.ca for the procedures, conditions and timelines relating to optional attendance.

Special reminder from TDSB: The deadline to accept an optional attendance offer with an elementary or junior high school is Friday, March 24, 2017. Please contact the school directly to accept the offer.

All said and done, a career is ones path through life. This encompasses education, learning, different jobs, family life, friendships, community activities and leisure activities. Its development requires students to understand themselves and opportunities in both the world and workplace in order to create the right pathways to build successful future. Students from postsecondary institutions in Ghana, for example, are mostly unemployed due to the lack of effective planning for the workplace while at school in a country where job opportunities are dwindling.

It must be noted that the workplace is rapidly changing as existing jobs become more complex and new jobs demand increased levels of education with the desired employable skills. This is why we need to assist students wherever they are to be able to create pathways to success!

By Joe Kingsley Eyiah, OCT, Brookview Middle School, Toronto-Canada

Source: Eyiah, Joe Kingsley