A New Resource for Teachers & Counselors – The Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads Essential Skills Guide

One of the most critical components of Illinois’ work around the College and Career Pathways are the Cross-Sector Essential Employability Skills (See page 6 of the Illinois CCPE Competencies Guide). Referred to as the “Essential Skills” in shorthand and commonly referred to as “soft skills” in the business community, these competencies are critical for all of our students across all Career Pathways. Additionally, through a year’s worth of Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episodes, we’ve found that the Essential Skills are a consistent and detailed component of each interview. 

To help teachers, counselors, and others incorporate the Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episodes as another instructional resource in their classrooms, we are in the process of developing The Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads Essential Skills Guide. While the content is up-to-date in this draft mapping of the Essential Skills across the Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episodes, we are still working to develop a finalized web solution. Knowing that both school leaders and teachers will begin planning instruction for the 2021-2022 school year over the summer, we wanted to share this resource now, even in its current work-in-progress form. 

May 2021

Announcing a New Partner – Illinois P-20 Network & Midwest Principals’ Center

Midwest Principals’ Center

For decades, Midwest Principals’ Center has brought together school leaders to learn with one another and from experts in topics ranging from curriculum and instruction to school law. Midwest Principals’ Center provides a wide range of learning opportunities each year, from bringing the most well-respected and in-demand speakers to local audiences to ongoing learning opportunities such as their Legal Breakfasts.

Now, the Illinois P-20 Network is proud to partner with Midwest Principals’ Center. As part of this partnership, Midwest Principals’ Center will promote the Illinois P-20 Network’s College and Career Readiness series of Administrator Academy workshops, which will allow even more school leaders to learn about these critical topics. Additionally, like the aforementioned Legal Breakfasts, the Illinois P-20 Network will offer a series of online introductory presentations on key College and Career Readiness topics for school leaders of all levels. These presentations will be free to all Midwest Principals’ Center members.

If your organization is not already a member of the Midwest Principals’ Center (MPC), learn more about MPC organizational or individual membership

May 2021

Recap of the Spring 2021 Network Meeting

The Illinois P-20 Network hosted its Spring 2021 Meeting online on Thursday, April 29, 2021. The Spring 2021 Meeting, Lessons for our journey forward: Putting lessons from COVID-19 into practice for all students, was free and open to educators across Illinois. The purpose of this year’s Spring 2021 Illinois P-20 Network Meeting was to bring educational leaders together from all levels of education across Illinois and to identify the most effective practices and strategies that have been implemented over the past year.

Breakdown of attendees by organization type

While this was the third consecutive Illinois P-20 Network Meeting that was held online, this was the first meeting that was held live (synchronously) rather than as an asynchronous series of videos posted as a YouTube Playlist (Check out the Fall 2020 Meeting Playlist and the Spring 2020 Meeting Playlist). Taking advantage of the meeting’s online format, a wide range of attendees participated, stretching geographically across Illinois from north to south and from east to west, and representing the full range of organizations that make-up the Illinois P-20 Network.

Making It - Book Cover - Header

Following introductions and remarks from Northern Illinois University President Lisa Freeman and Dean of the NIU College of Education Laurie Elish-Piper, the Spring Meeting featured a keynote presentation from Stephanie Malia Krauss, who has authored the newly published book, Making It: What Today’s Kids Need for Tomorrow’s World. Stephanie has served as a Senior Advisor at JFF as well as a former teacher and school leader. Today, she is also the parent of school-age children. Learn more about Stephanie, including being able to purchase her book, on her website. In her keynote presentation, Stephanie describes the environment in which today’s school-age learners have lived throughout their lives, including everything from current events to modern technology, and how these factors have influenced students’ lives and learning. Stephanie also discusses the changing nature of the workplace and careers, and Stephanie challenges schools to consider specific changes that must take place in order to meet these different realities than those on which modern schools were originally built.

Stephanie Malia Krauss Keynote Presentation

One key feature of the Spring 2021 Illinois P-20 Network Meeting was our Student Panel, which included students ranging from middle school through undergraduates and from one end of Illinois to the other. The students on the panel shared their reflections about their experiences during this unique 2020-2021 school year and what suggestions they have for schools and learning moving forward. As is always the case with listening to our students, nothing can replace watching the full video below, but key elements highlighted by students included:

  • Remote learning had key benefits including increased participation among a wider range of students and a greater ability to focus on learning rather than the performative social aspects of schooling
  • Flexible approaches to scheduling are important
  • Relationships between and among students and teachers remain important regardless of the format of the learning environment
P-20 Network Meeting Student Panel

Following the Student Panel, participants had the opportunity to engage in two different Breakout Room discussions from among five different categorical topics:

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Learning & Time & Space
  • Teacher Workforce
  • Assessment & Data
  • Community Engagement

Each of these was facilitated by a leader in the particular space, and discussion focused around the following questions:

  • What were the lessons we’ve learned over the past year during COVID-19 related to (The Breakout Room Topic)?
  • Based on this year’s experiences, what practices and/or structures should we implement to improve learning for all students moving forward?
  • What resources and policies do we need to be in place in order to make these changes effective, lasting, and sustainable?

During each Breakout Room discussion, NIU STEAM team members assisted by taking detailed notes. These notes are currently being coded and analyzed and will be used in conjunction with the exit slip survey data in order to determine priority areas of focus for the Illinois P-20 Network and for us collectively as a state in order to further improve learning for all students and for each student across Illinois from early childhood through ongoing adult education. The results of this work will, of course, be shared broadly with the Illinois P-20 Network, the state agencies, and beyond.

May 2021