Growing up, my Dad was a sports nut, and most of my life lessons came in the form of sports metaphors. Two that I heard often, and that stick with me to this day, are:
·Go to where the ball is going to be, not where it is; and
·Know what you’re going to do once you get it.
It seems to me that these are directly on-point for those working in the arena of CTE and Pathways.
Go to Where the Ball is Going to be
In baseball, you see the outfield shift left or right (or in little league, sometimes in) based on the hitting history of a certain batter. In basketball, you see people pick and roll to get free and ready for an open pass. We should adopt the same thinking.
In education, we have the luxury of a lag time between legislation being discussed and when it’s finally passed, and the components of that legislation is usually well-telegraphed. If you knew that the new Perkins Act was going to eventually pass, and you knew that there are several components (like increased employer engagement) with universal support, it makes sense to get ahead of the legislation and start moving in that direction. Similarly, we know that workforce changes are clear but gradual; as you think about aligning your programs to the needs of industry, take a look at the trends now to see what your programs need to look like in three years. That’s how long it will take to modify your courses and for new graduates to start emerging.
Know What You’re Going to do Once You Get the Ball
You see it all the time in youth basketball: A kid breaks open yells for the ball (“I’m open! I’m open!”), then freezes once he actually gets it. He got open alright but had no idea what he was going to do after that.
In CTE, a little planning goes a long way. You might be hoping for an introduction to one of the big industry players; if it happens, maybe a chance meeting at an industry event, are you ready for it? Do you know what you want and what’s in it for your partner? Maybe you’ve argued for a big funding boost or a new resource; if you get it, are you really prepared to make full use of it for greatest impact? I’m not suggesting that you need a complete implementation plan for every whim or interest, but you do need to be ready to capitalize on opportunities as they come up (often unexpectedly).
Here’s to hoping that my Dad’s wisdom helps you think about how to get open and take the shot you want to take – it’s certainly been helpful to me.
Brett Pawlowski is Executive Vice President of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions (www.nc3t.com). NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.