Tag Archives: job skills

18 years of compliance training

I inadvertently stumbled into a Twitter discussion about school activities, such as most homework assignments, that seem to exist for no other reason than, “We’ve always done it that way.”

Here’s an extract:

The conversation suggested that requiring compliance by students is bad.

I don’t think complying with such things as instructions to print one’s name on a document infringe on civil liberties or turn students into automatons: It might be regarded as a simple courtesy.

By the same token, I don’t think complying with school rules has much of an effect on students’ “real lives” outside school.

In fact, as I said, my observations of students in work settings has led me to think the fact that something is required in kindergarten or high school or college is likely to lead students to assume they can safely ignore it elsewhere.

I’ve written several posts over the years about my observations of ex-students’ behaviors outside classrooms when they attempt to enter the workforce. Taken together,  they may suggest it’s not compliance or the lack thereof  that’s a problem.

I’ve pasted the leads of three of them below with links to the entire posts.


Top writing requirement: Read the directions

Teaching students to adapt their writing to the situation never was easy, but is is becoming increasingly difficult. Within a few minutes’ time, we expect students to turn from texting friends to writing research reports to blogging—and to meet the different requirements of each of those situations.

One of the ways we can help students learn to navigate between writing situations is teach them that when directions are provided, they should read and follow those directions, regardless of what they’ve been taught was the appropriate thing to do. Read more of this post.

Work experience as education

Do you want to know how to prepare your students for an entry-level job? The best way to learn what students need to know is to do different entry-level jobs yourself.

Unless you already know somebody at the business, you’ll have to fill out a job application, just as your students will unless they, too, get their jobs through networking or nepotism. Completing a job application requires what the Common Core State Standards refer to as reading informational text. Read more of this post.

Dear applicant: The reason you weren’t hired

Since April,  I’ve been advertising unsuccessfully for two part-time, virtual workers in my educational publishing business. The responses have been mainly from highly schooled individuals who:

  • Don’t know how to write an email,
  • Either don’t read or don’t follow directions, and
  • Don’t have a clue what skills are needed for the 21st century office.

I sent respondents boilerplate “thank you for your interest” replies, but mentally wrote letters I wished I dared send. Read more of this post.

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Filed under Language & literacy

Can Your Students Work in THIS Century?

I’ve ranted several times on this blog about the need for teachers to keep up with the kinds of skills students need for jobs other than middle management at Fortune  500  companies (as executive assistant to Marissa Mayer, for example) or in the food service industry (waitstaff or dishwasher).

After a conversation with someone who is discovering how poorly prepared local honor students are for working in today’s economy, I dug out a response I wrote to someone who inquired about working with me. I’ve used this response repeatedly because I’ve discovered the typical applicant for a job with me has no idea what working online means.

Tell me what you could do for my business. Things to consider:

  • What’s your experience working online? Can you work independently with no one else in the room? Are you comfortable in a job that is done almost entirely online? Can you work with people you have never met, making sure they are informed about the work you are doing, what needs to be done, what you need help with?
  • What’s your level of technical expertise? Can you tell/show someone in Australia how to unzip a file? If you get a phone call from someone in Kentucky, can you talk them through buying and downloading an ebook? If I told you to view the source of a web page could you do it?
  • What are your favorite software/online programs for creating online surveys? online newsletters? website creation? photo editing? blogging? online calendars? screen capture, creating diagrams/illustrations? creating charts?
  • What’s your experience with social media? Are you on LinkedIn? Twitter? What blogging platforms are you comfortable using? Familiar with Hootsuite?
  • My vendors and I use OpenOffice, Zoho Mail. Would using them present any problems for you?
  • Do you have any experience with HTML coding? with CSS?
  • Are you a good reader? Can you spot errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, formatting?
  • What are your business skills (financial records, HR, marketing, research, etc.)?

By the time they graduate high school, every student should be able to give some specific examples of their skills in each of those areas.  Some of those tasks are required learning for students as young as sixth grade in New York State, where I live.

If you are a teacher, administrator, education policy maker, or community leader and you are not competent in some subset of each of those areas, you are one of the roadblocks keeping students from being college and career ready.

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Filed under Public schools