School-to-Work Experiences: Curriculum as a Bridge
Bonds (2003) provides a historical background on School-to-Work (STW), laws shaping requirements for STW programs, and research supporting STW components. Bonds reports, "The transition from school to work can be difficult. Job seekers much have well-developed literacy, communication, and technology skills, to enter a vocation and remain on the job."
The school-to-work transition is complicated by hearing loss. Bonds reports, "The transition from school to work may be a lifelong quest for a deaf student. The effects of deafness can include problems with communication access or the lack thereof." In addition, the lack of information needed to benefit from training and then get and keep a job as well as a lack of knowledge of accommodations necessary to perform certain jobs.
Bonds (2003) provides five recommendations that focus on curricular elements of a STW transitional program:
First, schools should ensure that testing is appropriate for deaf students, and that these students are adequately tested on the desired competencies.
Second, following the interests and strengths of the student is recommended. The transition plan should be a team effort, which includes the student, the family, the special education teacher, transition specialists, service providers, VR counselors, adult service providers, employers, postsecondary education program representatives, and community support advocates. The plan should be flexible and allow for changes that permit exploration of new avenues of career interest.
Third, regardless of whether the child is in elementary, middle, high school, or beyond, students should have many opportunities to learn new job skills. If available, activities outside of school as well as school alternatives should be used.
Fourth, expectations should be kept very high for the student. Bonds reports, "Emphasizing the high status of deaf people who are in the workforce may raise the self-expectations of students who are deaf." Transition plans that are effective are based on a mastery of fundamental academic skills.
Fifth, teachers must maintain a sense of reality. "Working toward a meaningful career leads to dignity and a more enriched life, and will also result in better-prepared future generations," says Bonds.
Reference: Bonds, B.G. (2003). School-to-Work Experiences: Curriculum as a Bridge. American Annals of the Deaf, 148(1), 38-48.