Flexible Playlists Aren't Just for Teachers

Flexible Playlists Aren't Just for Teachers
Posted on 10/03/2019
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Teacher and students in class
Preparing for life after high school can be intimidating. What path will you take? What steps do you need to follow? The counselors at Lakota East High School are trying to ease the way for seniors this year by using flexible playlists.

With teachers throughout the district using one of four personalized learning pathways this year, the East counselors decided to try one as well. “The teachers were all talking about the different pathways they would be using and we thought we should try to incorporate one into our work,” said counselor Andrea Bryant. During the Sept. 3 professional development day, the East counselors got the ball rolling. 

That’s when Tara Bessler suggested using the strategy for their senior meetings.

Bessler explained that the counselors wanted to encourage students to explore the different options for their future. “The playlist allowed us to personalize the work time during our presentation so all of our students' needs were met, and they could be exposed to a multitude of resources and practical tasks.” 

The department took advantage of block days during the month of September, meeting with seniors during their English classes. After giving a short presentation about things like applying to college, how to obtain transcripts and asking teachers for recommendations, the seniors were given the Senior Planning Playlist.

The playlist suggests steps to follow when evaluating the four Es for what to do after graduation (Enrollment, Enlistment, Employment and Entrepreneurship). Students planning to enroll in higher education can find more information about the Common Application, financial aid and researching colleges. There is also a planning calendar to help students stay organized. “Even if two students are on the same pathway, say college, they may be at different points in their exploration,” said Bessler. “One student may be still searching for colleges to apply to, while the other is already finished with applications and looking for information about financial aid.”

Senior Sydney Tino, who is applying for early decision at the universities of her choice, began her application process this summer. “The planning calendar is great for students who haven’t started the process yet,” she said. “The playlist has helped finalize what I have left in the Common App(lication) process.”

Students thinking about enlistment in the military can explore which branch is right for them as well as available careers. There are also links to videos explaining the entrance process and ROTC at Ohio’s universities.

For students looking to start their career or follow an entrepreneurial path after high school, the counselors have set up resources specific to them. There’s a career interest survey in Naviance, links to articles about in demand jobs and which jobs match their personalities. Students can also learn about writing a resume and the interview process. 

For students who are just starting the process, the playlist lays out the steps in a very easy to follow fashion. “The presentation is helping a lot,” said senior Luke Zeigler. “This is a good way to figure out what I need to do to get started.” Zeigler appreciates the link to the Naviance career test. Having taken it as a junior, he is planning to retake the test before he is deep in the college application process. “I want to make sure I’m on the right path.”

The feedback from students has been very positive so far. “I think they love it,” said Bryant. “They are able to see the options on the page and task out what they need to do.” The playlist has been shared with parents via Twitter and the school’s weekly newsletter, T-Hawk News. The playlist is even getting noticed outside of Lakota. “The day after we posted the playlist on Twitter, we received a call from the counselors at Monroe High School asking for more information about what we were doing,” explained Bryant.

Bessler encourages others to jump in and try flexible playlists. “Students are much more likely to engage when they have what they feel directly impacts their life. Allowing personalization and choice can help students explore things that interest them and expose them to things they may have never stumbled upon themselves!”

Bryant and her team are planning to use flexible playlists throughout the year, including their monthly mind-check sessions. Topics such as stress reduction and mindfulness during the holiday season and healthy living techniques in January will be shared with students in the coming months. “The playlists give us a way to provide more tools for our students’ toolboxes.”