The auditorium filled to the sound of teachers small talking. Several chairs populated by a rather diverse looking group of Lancaster County employers sat facing the teachers. The moderator stepped in to quiet the throng and start the conversation.
“Here they are sitting right in front of you,” she began. “What would you like to tell them about the preparation of your future employees?”
I have to admit that I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. The panel of career field experts sitting in opposition of our entire high school teaching staff consisted of local entrepreneurs and business owners. The purpose of this in-service was to explore the perceived disconnect from the school’s view of life after graduation and those who actually live in that world.
Educational institutions mean well; they really do, but it is filled with individuals whose view of life after high school begins to slip further and further into the past as they rack up years of experience.
The first speaker was complimentary and explained that his small technology start-up employed several Penn Manor students, and he was rather pleased. He was interrupted before he finished and a rather gruff gentleman voiced his disagreement.
He went on to explain that if we really wanted to know what was needed in an future employee…it was initiative. He explained that recently he had tried to explain a process for studding a wall that his company uses on projects. The young man listened intently and then began work. During the instruction, the speaker had to leave the young man to work because he was called away to attend to another task. Upon return, he found the young man sitting and waiting for the next set of instructions. The frustration in our speaker’s voice was evident as he recalled this experience. The employee did not have the initiative to finish the wall. The panel voiced their support for this skill and the conversation was underway.
The fascinating part of this innovative professional development was the speed with which the perceived confrontational tone shifted to one of mutual collaboration and respect. It is the job of education to prepare students for life outside the schoolhouse walls. When considering mission statements for schools, one must consider not just college but CAREER readiness skills.
Although many people agree with this concept, the difficulty is attempting to develop a learning plan that teaches initiative. How does one develop an assessment or rubric for initiative?
The 1Skill podcast project has attempted to recreate what happened in that auditorium. The voices from the field were instrumental in starting the conversation between faculty and administration about infusing career-ready skills into already existing curriculum offerings.
In order to start the conversation with your administration, staff, students, and parents, plan on listening to the free podcast offerings in one of the four career pathways. They are designed to be springboards for conversation for participants. They are around 3 minutes in length so that the entire activity can be implemented within 15 minutes. We at the Career Readiness Institute hope to help districts save time and money in the transition to focusing equally on college and career ready skills.
Many of our daily digital correspondences, both personal and professional, slip silently across virtual pathways shedding much of the human touch of the sender. In the name of efficiency, we allow our virtual selves to conduct business through quick text/email responses rather than getting tied up in face-to-face or phone conversations.
Who has time for that? 😉
Sean Convey’s text 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens dedicates an entire chapter to explaining how successful people “Seek First to Understand Before Being Understood.” He explains that when a person encodes a face-to-face message, s/he blends it using three essential elements: “words,” tone of voice, and body language. Not all of these elements carry the same importance in the successful delivery of the message. The actual words that someone selects is of minor importance…only 7% of the message. A full 93% of the message is comprised of the non-verbal cues that the sender displays during the conversation. That is why many disagreements feature the comment, “That is not what I said! 🙁 ” Maybe not in so many words…
Here is Covey’s mathematical breakdown of communication:
“words” – 7%
tone of voice – 13%
body language – 80%
Using these percentages, it is easy to see how so much of a digital message is lost when we text/email friends or colleagues. Nearly 93% of the message! When someone texts or sends an email, s/he is only sending 7% of the message, and this could ultimately cause confusion in the mind of the receiver.
Enter the emoticon :)… (a portmanteau of emotion and icon) . In an age of digital communication, this little symbol allows for the quick display of the sender’s emotional state when composing the message. Although it is an artificial replacement for actual face-to-face talking, the widespread use of emoticons may help clarify digital messages.
In preparation for 21st Century careers, should schools begin teaching a new form of digital writing that infuses emoticons into a text to pick up the subtle tones and body language of the writer?
I am a YouTube junkie! Sometimes I find myself searching, selecting, and streaming one-man film festivals. During my latest iCinematic experience, I happened to be binge watching TEDx videos, and I was inspired by Tai Lopez who delivered a talk titled, “The law of 33%.” My one mental take-away from Tai’s talk was his system to set his own reading pace so that he can read a book a day. In his video, he claims that many non-fiction books have a single truth that can be reached through a series of power-skimming techniques.
After ransacking the used bookshelves at the local Thrift Store, I began devouring non fiction books one day at a time. During my month long experiment, I found a book that would profoundly alter my perception of moving people to accept change, bounce, The Art of Turning Tough Times Into Triumph, by Keith McFarland. The one truth contained in the pages of this 166 page book is that one should not fear change; rather, one should fear what might happen if s/he doesn’t adapt to change.
High school seniors, for the most part, live in a zone of relative comfort. As a result, they tend to fear the change that is going to disrupt their comfortable high school routines. If asked, the students would claim high levels of anxiety because of their fear of an unknown future outside the safety of the schoolhouse walls. Instead of fearing the change that is going to disrupt their relative state of calm, they need to understand what might happen to them if they do not adapt to that perceived change. By focusing on the adaptability factor in change theory, one has the power to alter the future rather than fall prey to its chaotic pin-balling between a seemingly unknown series of events.
Skim-reading the book bounce allowed me to put a theory behind a practice that I have been using for many semesters. I have always attempted to design learning plans that place an emphasis on the learner’s ability to apply the concepts or skills to real world situations. In an effort to introduce my career readiness unit, I have the students calculate their projected budget for their first year out of high school. There are many generic programs that provide stock templates, but my Google Sheets program was tailored to my particular economic region, south central Pennsylvania. The rather sparse yet dynamic nature of the presentation of my Google Sheet Budget Calculator creates a feeling of individuality that is appealing to my students. They take the document and tailor it to their specific needs. This lesson is all about adaptability and planning for a better future. Once they see what the world looks like through the lens of a budget…they are more open to increasing their career skill abilities.
If you would like to use my Google Sheets Senior Budget with your students, please see my easy to follow instructions at the end of this blog. (You will need a Google account.)
The Common Core State Standards focus on college and CAREER ready skills…how are you incorporating CAREER skills in your classroom?
(Follow-up discussions about this blog topic can occur in the various CRI communities…see you in the virtual neighborhood!)
1. Click on the above hyperlink to my Google Sheets
2. Click on the drop down menu titled “File”
3. Select “Make a Copy”
4. Title it with Your Name (Make it yours!)
5. Save it to your *Google Drive and share with your students.
*If you don’t have a google drive account, you can sign up for one here.
Dr. Gregg McGough, CRI Blogger & Podcaster
Check out the 1Skill Podcast that will explore what employers are looking for in an employee from four career pathways: health & social services, business & finance, arts & communications, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.