The Global Gap for Marketable Job Skills


Reposted from the WISE

“Globally, study after study is coming up with one message: graduates lack essential skills to get by in the workplace. They lack skills like communication, teamwork, critical thinking, the ability to work under pressure, and even punctuality! In a global survey of business leaders by Hult International Business School (2013), one of the key insights was that leaders held mostly negative views on both the process and products of business education, noting that students lack ‘real world’ experience; both in terms of experience and learning from faculty with real world experience. The survey noted that same missing skills [namely self-awareness, comfort with uncertainty, creativity, and critical thinking] while noting that education systems overemphasize functional knowledge.

This has become a ‘global gap’, and the search for ways to close the gap are afoot; in early 2014, the Economist teamed up with Lumina Foundation to launch a global challenge [with a reward to 10,000 USD] to find solutions to bridge the gap between the workforce and higher education. The central question in this competition is: How can companies work with higher education to ensure that the higher education system better prepares workers to be successful on the job and teaches skills that will remain valuable in the future.

Are schools and higher education institutions doing enough to prepare students for the world of work? Isn’t it their role to equip students with the skills that employers demand? Why are employers not doing much about it, and should they do more to smooth the student’s transition into the work life? I argue the answer to these questions is ‘simple’. The world of work has changed so fast in the past 2 decades, and the higher education system simply did not catch up. We have 20th century higher education systems, institutions, and faculty, trying to prepare students for a 21st century world of work.”

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The Education of Tomorrow [INFOGRAPHIC]



Student Engagement Drops from Preschool to High School


Reposted from the Gallup Blog:

“Gallup research strongly suggests that the longer students stay in school, the less engaged they become. The Gallup Student Poll surveyed nearly 500,000 students in grades five through 12 from more than 1,700 public schools in 37 states in 2012. We found that nearly eight in 10 elementary students who participated in the poll are engaged with school. By middle school that falls to about six in 10 students. And by high school, only four in 10 students qualify as engaged. Our educational system sends students and our country’s future over the school cliff every year.

The drop in student engagement for each year students are in school is our monumental, collective national failure. There are several things that might help to explain why this is happening — ranging from our overzealous focus on standardized testing and curricula to our lack of experiential and project-based learning pathways for students — not to mention the lack of pathways for students who will not and do not want to go on to college.

Imagine what our economy would look like today if nearly eight in 10 of our high school graduates were engaged — just as they were in elementary school. Indeed, this is very possible; the best high schools in our dataset have as many as seven in 10 of their students engaged, akin to the engagement levels of our elementary schools. In fact, in qualitative interviews Gallup conducted with principals of these highly engaged high schools, we heard quotes such as, “Our high school feels like an elementary school,” when describing what they are doing differently.”

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How Would You Write Your Job Description?


Reposted from te@chthought:

I think we can boil the desired results of “teacher” down to a few core obligations. An educator must arguably cause four things in learners.

  1. greater interest in the subject and in learning than was there before, as determined by observations, surveys, and client feedback
  2. successful learning related to key course goals, as reflected in mutually agreed-upon assessments
  3. greater confidence and feelings of efficacy as revealed by student behavior and reports (and as eventually reflected in improved results)
  4. a passion and intellectual direction in each learner

With a genuine job description we can finally tackle a great problem in education, the common view that the job is to cover the content. No: “marching page by page through a textbook (or the written curriculum) can never be your job as a teacher” – ever. The textbook or curriculum is written completely independently of your goals and students; it is a generic resource that merely pulls together a comprehensive body of information and lessons in a package for use by thousands of people with varying needs all over the United States. It is utterly insensitive to formative assessment results and the near certainty that deviations from the pagination will be needed to cause high levels of learning.

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Hey Daddy Warbucks! Let’s Run Your Business Like a School!

daddy warbucks tin can 800

Reposted from the Greensboro, NC News & Record:

“I would like to posit a scenario where “job performance and value” are based on the following objectives and conditions:

  •  You are meeting with 35 clients in a room designed to hold 20.
  • The air conditioning and/or heat may or may not be working, and your roof leaks in three places, one of which is the table where your customers are gathered.
  • Of the 35, five do not speak English, and no interpreters are provided.
  • Fifteen are there because they are forced by their “bosses” to be there but hate your product.
  • Eight do not have the funds to purchase your product.
  • Seven have no prior experience with your product and have no idea what it is or how to use it.
  • Two are removed for fighting over a chair.
  • Only two-thirds of your clients appear well-rested and well-fed.

You are expected to:

  • Make your presentation in 40 minutes.
  •  Have up-to-date, professionally created information concerning your product.
  • Keep complete paperwork and assessments of product understanding for each client and remediate where there is lack of understanding.
  • Use at least three different methods of conveying your information: visual, auditory and hands-on.

Does this business model seem viable? Of course not…”

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10 Most Important Work Skills by the Year 2020 [INFOGRAPHIC]

2020 work skills

Rather than focusing on future jobs, this infographic looks at future work skills: proficiencies and abilities required across different jobs and work settings that will reshape the landscape of work. You can read the full report from which this infographic acquired its data here.


Intrinsic Motivation: Instill It In At Least 27 Ways [INFOGRAPHIC]


Mia MacMeekin offers this infographic that includes a definition of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, followed by 27 suggested actions for promoting curiosity, effort, engagement, and academic success. Reposted from te@chthought.


Failure as a Tool [INFOGRAPHIC]


I love these quick lessons in using failure as a tool by Vinod Khosla, founder of Sun Microsystems among many, many other things. A friend pointed me to this great infographic after spotting my own blog on the dividing line between success and failure.

“No failure means no risk, which means nothing new,” says Vinod. I couldn’t agree more.

“Create a culture of experimentation,” he adds. “If everyone stuck to being well behaved there would be no progress.”

– Richard Branson

Your Personal PD for August: Follow Your Bliss!

bliss banner

“When you follow your bliss… doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else…”  – Joseph Campbell

In 1996 I was teaching fifth grade in Spotsylvania, Virginia, and I was invited by Sara Branner to accompany her, Corky Talley and Laura Brown to attend the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) conference to be held in Baltimore, Maryland. It was an honor to be asked, and I had no idea what I was about to encounter. I thought the Baltimore Convention Center, just up the street from the Inner Harbor complex, was highly anticipated. But the venue was nothing compared to the conference experience itself; huge in scope, highly organized, and full of choices and possibilities. What do I remember looking back? SO many sessions I just couldn’t get to see them all. A great workshop with Jay McTighe who was very proud of his pencil-sized little pointer he could use on his overhead projector to call attention to bullets on his sheet of acetate. And sitting in Roger Taylor’s standing-room-only session in which he built us up to a crescendo and then had as all holding hands and signing “Bye Bye Miss American Pie” as we basked in the glow of our common experience. Wow. I had never seen anything like it.

Roll ahead a few years and I am Director of Information Systems for the Salem, Massachusetts schools. My eIditarod Project has won recognition from the state Department of Education and I am doing a presentation on it at the ASCD conference in Orlando, Florida. It’s a glorious convention center and I was thrilled to be back at an ASCD conference for the first time since Baltimore. I made my case for the project, tying in multiple intelligences theory and project-based learning, and I was really satisfied with the turnout for the presentation and my delivery of the topic. I got back to Salem and one of my staff and now long-time good friend Scott Moore stopped by to see me and said, “I had friends in Orlando for the conference. They sat in on your session. Said you totally nailed it. You got it right on every instructional count!” I was amazed. Word travels fast and I was glad the feedback was good!


Play it forward some more and I am sitting in the lobby of the Sheraton Colonial in Wakefield, Massachusetts waiting to be interviews by Mary Forté Hayes, executive director for the Massachusetts Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, who was looking for a Director of Communications for her print and electronic publications: journal, books, web site, online store and email announcements. She had seen my work doing similar support for the state ISTE affiliate, MassCUE, and long story short she offered me the job. I wasn’t doing it for the money. I was the Director of Technology for my hometown school system of Northborough, and this was part-time work with a stipend. I was thrilled to be working for my home state ASCD affiliate, contributing where I could! We pumped out some great issues of the journal, totally overhauled the web site and made the online store a reality. We even won the award for best publications from the parent association, ASCD.

Four years ago I left my home state of Massachusetts once again to take on the position of Assistant Superintendent of Information Services with the Arlington, Virginia Public Schools. It seemed like the logical next step; perhaps I could affect even more change at this higher level within a prominent school division. For all the good things we accomplished there, I was coming to terms with the fact that the higher up I went in public ed, the less likely it was I was going to accomplish the kinds of change I wanted to see. I may have had a bird’s eye view of the landscape, but I was that much farther removed from what was actually happening on the ground. It seemed to me moving up to superintendent at some point wasn’t going to do the trick; I would still be staring at the same impediments and challenges. As I pondered this, out of nowhere came this opportunity: Director of Constituent Services for ASCD. It included expertise in education, experience working with associations, a need for someone comfortable with technology and social media in particular….I decided to apply. That was February of last year. Screening interviews were in March and April, then interviews with the Constituent Service unit in May. My take was, if it’s meant to be….it will be.

The offer came, and after 25 years in public education, 14 in the classroom and 11 in administration, I made the move to work for a professional education association I had admired and been a member of for a number of years. As I looked back over my career, it all seemed to fall into place: that first conference in Baltimore, presenting in Orlando, Director of Communications for the Massachusetts affiliate, and now serving as Director of Constituent Services. Each experience built upon the previous, creating an identifiable path in my journey that brings me to where I am as I write today. If you had told me back in 1996 that my career would eventually lead me to work for this world-class organization now known simply by its original acronym ASCD, I would have thought you were crazy. But as I look back and realize where doors opened and I walked through, it all seems to have been part of some cosmic karma. As I worked the 2011 ASCD Annual Conference in San Francisco this past week, it felt as though I had closed the loop full-circle. Another world-class, large-scale, well-delivered professional education conference like no one else can do it….and I was a part of it on the staff side for the very first time.


I have always followed my bliss….wherever it has taken me. When I left education for a stint to work for the federal government, I knew it’s what I needed to do. The experience outside education looking in has provided me with invaluable experience ever since. When I left Arlington, Virginia schools the first time in 2003 to return to my home state of Massachusetts for my first technology directorship, I knew it’s what I had to do. And by the time I was happy and secure serving as tech Director for my hometown, never dreaming I would ever want to leave, and I took the offer to return to Arlington as an Assistant Superintendent, that was following my bliss too. It didn’t always seem like a conscious choice, but I always instinctively trusted my inner voice….and here I am now to talk about it with some perspective.

From the first time I heard Joseph Campbell speak, I was immediately drawn into his ability to tell stories from traditions around the world that resonated with my own experience. It was sometime in the early nineties that I first came across his quote about “following your bliss.” I was still in the classroom but it awakened something in me. This is why I always knew I would teach. This is why the right people came into my life every step of the way to share their experience and insight. This is why I have always felt like I was connected to some greater purpose than just putting in hours. Education is more than just a job. More than just a career. For me it is a vocation. Whether in the classroom or serving in administration or now working for the premier education association in the world, I am always a learner and a teacher.

My message to you this summer is to follow your bliss….if you have faith in your vocation and you know that your inner voice will lead you in finding your way….then everything will fall into place for you. It may not seem evident to you right now where it will be or what it will look like, but it will happen. And like me you will be able to look back one day and see with perspective and understanding why everything has happened as it has and how you have arrived where you are meant to be. Because when you follow your bliss….you do find doors where you never realized there were doors before….and they are there for you when they may not be there for anyone else….and you can rest at peace in the knowledge that at any point in time as an educator you are where you are meant to be and you are on the journey which you are meant to take. You will realize your full potential and you will be rewarded in ways you never imagined. I want this for each of you. And all you have to do is…


For Further Personal PD Reading…

Joseph Campbell Background

The Joseph Campbell Foundation

The Center for Story and Symbol

The Power of Myth (Amazon softcover)

Bill Moyers Interviews Joseph Campbell On The Power Of Myth

The Hero’s Adventure


5 Keys to Successful Social-Emotional Learning

Studies show that sustained and well-integrated Social-Emotional Learning programs can help schools engage their students and improve achievement. Explore the classroom practices that make up the best and most effective Social-Emotional Learning programs. This Edutopia video outlines five key facets of social-emotional learning: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationships and decision-making.