As educators we sometimes take for granted that the students share the same passion for knowledge and therefore, they know what they are getting into once they enrol in our schools. However, that is not the reality that we face in our classrooms. Nowadays not everyone that enrols in a vocational school knows exactly what they are getting into, and some of them are even misinformed about the doors that the degree that they are studying will open for them. In order to try to help students understand better the degree and the possibilities that it offers Institut Escola del Treball de Lleida (Spain) has started, together with the Department of Education and other schools in Catalonia, a Professional Guidance Tutoring Plan that has two clear objectives.
The first objective is to provide individual guidance to students at a personal, curricular and professional level. The second one is to elaborate an e-portfolio that the student can take with him/her at the end of the studies. With these two objectives in mind the students work on a series of activities that will help them achieve the goal which is to improve the knowledge of the studies and their own skills so they can develop a true personal e-portfolio that reflects the students’ traits and abilities. To give you a better idea of the goals achieved with some of the activities, we will just mention that the first two activities help the students gain a better understanding of the degree they are studying; since they do not only learn about the subjects but also about the possible jobs that they can opt to as well as how can they further their education in a specific field. The other activities are designed so that the students learn about their personal skills and competences. This is a very important aspect often overlooked; it is important for the students to know themselves so that they can choose the field that works better for them.
These two objectives are closely related because in order to successfully complete an e-portfolio it is imperative that the student has a clear knowledge of what he/she is studying as well as the occupations associated with the degree and the prospective job market. With this knowledge, the student can better choose an area of specialization and can further their education with other courses that will widen their field of expertise. There are also activities designed so that the student gains a unique insight of their own social skills as well as their personal and professional competences. The goal of this portfolio is to provide the students with a digital tool that will become their tool to present themselves to businesses.
This is a two-year program, and we have just finished the first year. Our strategy has been to establish tutoring teams coordinated by two teachers who have organized and paced the activities. The coordinators held a first meeting with all the homeroom teachers to explain to them the general objective of the program. Once the general idea was presented and understood they held meetings by departments in order to explain more in detail how the program was organized. These meetings worked better than the first one, because the groups were smaller which allowed for a better discussion as how to present the activity to the students and it also allowed the teachers to establish their own pacing guide. During the meetings, general guidelines as well as templates were handed out so that the teachers could develop the activities with their students.
It is a work in progress, but we are confident that the students will appreciate the work and the effort once they see the result.