Sunday, November 22, 2009

Career Fair, 2020

Global Corp Career Fair, 2020

"Thanks for taking the time to interview me today, Ma'am! I appreciate the opportunity!" The young woman was well spoken, appropriately dressed, and had a genuine smile. 'So far, so good', thought the interviewer.

"The pleasure is ours. Is this your resume?" The interviewer indicated the copies displayed on the table. She picked them up, and handed a copy to each of her two colleagues seated on either side.

"Yes. I wanted to be sure to mention a few things about it. You'll notice I don't have a lot of work experience." She was going to explain further, but was interrupted.

"Yes, that's understandable, what with jobs being so hard to come by these days. Honestly, we see that quite a bit with young people. What we'd like to know is what sets you apart from all of the other applicants in the waiting area."

"Well, that's the other thing I wanted to talk about. You see, I'm hoping that my winning personality and good humor get me the job, because I don't have a lot of skills compared to them. While we were waiting, I was talking with them about their backgrounds. Two are from India, three are from China, and two of the other three are from Europe. All of them are more qualified than I am, because I grew up in the United States. During the last ten years or so, while our country was cutting from education budgets nationwide during the recession, their countries valued the investment in their future and put more money in their education systems. I'm not only outnumbered by the millions, but I'm at a severe disadvantage educationally to every one of those millions."

The interviewer was baffled at these comments, however true. It wasn't the norm for candidates to talk her out of hiring them. She couldn't think of one good reason to hire the young lady.

And neither will the real interviewers in 2020-if we continue to treat children's futures as a luxury only afforded during the best of times.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Don't let how good you ARE get in the way of how good you COULD be.

Possibly one of the greatest things we can do for our students is to instill in them a belief that learning never stops-that life-long learning is necessary now more than ever. With learning comes unavoidable change. Consider some of the wisdom of others:

"He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery." ~Harold Wilson

"It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory." ~W. Edwards Deming (Thank you, Michelle.)

"When you are through changing, you are through. " ~Bruce Barton

"They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom." ~Confucius

Change is uncomfortable. As Washington Irving put it, "There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in travelling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one's position, and be bruised in a new place."

As teachers, it seems there is always a new initiative, a new book series, a new resource, a new program that we are learning. Sometimes, they come and go so fast that we are left wondering why we invested the time and energy at all. Are these things that come to pass so quickly a waste of time? I say no.

Teachers are incredible people. They do a job that some don't respect, many fear, and most couldn't do-all for pay that is sadly disproportionate to other professions. We live in a country that promises equal education for every child, and it is no small task. Everyone you meet can name a teacher who made a difference in their life and has had an impact on who they are today. I can't think of any other profession that can claim to be so far-reaching in influence of an entire society.

Unfortunately, our teachers are being called upon to do way more for kids than teach them basic academic skills. More and more, schools are expected to do everything a teacher should do, plus most of what a parent should do. Character education is just one example. It's no wonder that teachers often throw aside new learning in the face of so many seemingly insurmountable challenges. But we can't allow ourselves to become stagnant. The students are watching.

The most powerful teaching tool we have is modeling. How many times have you noticed your students picking up some of your mannerisms, sayings, and likes? No matter how much you think your students aren't paying attention to the lesson plans, you can bet they are paying attention to you and the things you do-and don't do.

When we refuse to learn new things, be open to new ideas, or prioritize new learning right behind getting a root canal, we are actually teaching our students-although not directly-to do the same. Unfortunately, it is the opinion of many wonderful teachers that, because they have been so successful, they don't need to change anything. Why fix it if it isn't broken?

We cannot let how good we have become get in the way of how good we could be. Does Tiger Woods stop practicing putts just because he knows he can sink one from anywhere on the green? Do doctors refuse to learn new techniques and procedures just because the one they use hasn't killed anyone yet?

In my opinion, the best teachers have the most to gain by learning how to use new tools with students. A bad teacher who uses technology is still a bad teacher. A good teacher with the right tools is unstoppable.

The world has changed, and so we must change with it in order to provide our students with the best education possible. We no longer operate in our own little corner of the world, insulated from the problems of others. It is becoming more and more our world and every problem is everyone's problem. We stand at the edge of a chasm. Our choice is to work together and fly, or stand alone and fall into the void.

"If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies." -author unknown