Students in the College and Test Prep (CTP) class at Restore Education in San Antonio, Texas, completed the Roadtrip Nation (RTN) course as part of their class curriculum. The instructors selected RTN as a way to increase students’ awareness of the non-academic skills that would help them be successful in the areas of career awareness, self-knowledge, self-reflection, and networking, realizing that RTN would complement the College Transition curricula from the Opportunity Network (OppNet) that they were already using. The Opportunity Network customizes its Career Pillars curriculum with partners, to meet the career and educational readiness needs of students.
Student Support Specialist Ilse Reyes took the lead on adapting the five RoadTrip Nation lessons to meet the needs of her students, carefully pairing the videos and activities from RTN with lessons and material from OppNet. Ilse taught in a blended learning environment, with some students in the classroom and some students joining remotely. She assigned modules from Northstar Digital Literacy and offered one-on-one tutoring to build students’ digital literacy skills and prepare them for remote learning.
Ilse found that the RTN videos and lesson materials were an excellent way to prompt discussion, promote team building and encourage self-exploration.
“We are always trying to find resources that make our students active participants in their learning, and Roadtrip Nation really did that.”
During Lesson Two, called “Let Go: Shed the noise and listen to yourself,” students are asked to reflect on where they have been, what experiences have shaped their views, and how they can develop confidence in their pathway. The RTN videos portray professionals who have persevered through adversity to find their own path and establish a supportive community.
After the lesson, one student noted, “This lesson has given me more confidence to strive for what I want for myself.” Another student learned “. . . not to listen to the negative mind set I once created with myself.”
The Roadtrip Nation course combines personal awareness and skill development with career exploration. Students found the RoadMap interest assessment tool to be especially helpful, as they were able to review suggested jobs and careers based on their interests. Students reported that the results exposed them to jobs that not only interested them but which they had not known about previously. For other students, their results included jobs and careers they were interested in as young people, which prompted discussions about why they had dropped those career dreams.
Ilse also prioritized the lesson on building community on campus, which allowed one student to recognize that she is “not alone while attending school. There are programs that I can join for support.”
At the end of the lessons, as designed by RTN, students interviewed professionals in the field they were considering entering, to get a taste of what these jobs are like and how people ended up where they are. Ilse and other staff set up these interviews remotely with professionals in their networks.
Over the course of the semester, students increased their awareness of and use of personal and workplace success skills. Ilse recounts one day in class when many students received some troubling news about the future funding for their program. Drawing on a recent OppNet lesson on “Wellness and Growth Mindset” and RTN’s lesson called “Become,” one student took the opportunity to remind her peers that this did not need to be seen as a setback and could instead be seen as an opportunity for resilience, growth, and self-determination.