Friday, December 1, 2017

Reply All

Reply All...

So this post is more of a an educational rant rather then educational insight!

Have you ever responded to an email and hit reply all and thought, why I am I including everyone on this?  Or, have you ever opened up an email and thought why do people insist on sharing everything with all of us?  I am hopeful the answer to both of these questions is a resounding yes!  If not, then you need to really think about if you're the "reply all" culprit.  There are some of you lurking among us. By lurking you're continuously hitting reply all every time there is a group message started via email. If someone asks a question they are the ones who want the answer, not everyone.  Most of us have been there at some point.

Why should we look at this and discuss it's merit?  According to data from VoloMetrix (a Seattle company that tracks technology use at work) at least 15% of a workers day is on email with 5% of emails received being of the reply all variety.  Can you imagine, one-third of all your emails being from reply all!  Not only is that more work time wasted, but that is also asking for mistakes to be glorified.  Another statistic stated that approximately 78% of people can't stand receiving a reply all email from co-workers and friends.


Here is a link to an article sharing 9 email reply-all disasters and how they turned out...
http://theweek.com/articles/499672/9-reply-all-email-disasters

So I ask you what is the point of the reply all?  Are we really trying to help each other stay informed or do we have an underlying purpose?  

Take a Minute and Evaluate:

Before you press that button ask yourself, "Does everyone need to read this?"  Usually you can determine the best answer to that question is no.  If you try talking yourself into it, the answer is no.  If you think there is that one person in the group...the answer is still NO!  Sometimes all it takes is a split second to realize, not everyone needs to know this.  This resonates more with the first mass email distributing information.  In that case do what you want with the information and move one.  Yes, this does sound harsh and does not represent a 100%, but much like the english language rules are made as protocol, but are accurate "most" of the time (i.e. I before E except after C).

Now don't get me wrong some items do require a reply all and when used appropriately it provides a wonderful advantage in electronic communication, but as the golden rule states:  do on to others as you would like them to do on to you.  A little extreme, yes.  However, if you don't want the infamous reply all, realize neither do others.





Saturday, November 25, 2017

Anxiousness

ANXIOUSNESS

As my wife is t-minus one week before her due date I find myself with much anxiousness surrounding what lies ahead.  Are we ready?  Anything else to do in the baby room?  There are a million things still to do around the house.  Everyone tells me that you're never truly ready.  What is that day going to be like (our pregnancy class can only prepare so much)?  I start to wonder are these the feelings our students go through on a different level? 

We know that students go through anxiousness and anxiety all the time whether it is a test, an athletic contest or a relationship at school/home.  What do we do to help prepare them?  Are they ever truly ready for what they're about to embark on everyday they leave their house.  I know answers for me will soon present themselves as I will have to go through it to truly understand.  Do our kids have to "go through it" to truly understand?  I think in some circumstances yes, but what can we do to help prepare them?  We must nurture and teach them all at the same time.  What we do just can't be done in the classroom with education.  As educators we see these kids more then their parents do in many situations. 

Think about that as you come back from a well rested Thanksgiving Break and eye up that Christmas Break, just around the corner.  For many, that anxiousness (good or bad) will be there.  Think for a moment how you can step up and do something perhaps a little different or extra to help those in your school or classroom.  Help nurture and educate them all at once because we to have experienced those feelings.

Blessings to all of you and God help me as I know life will be getting a little crazier, but I know life for the students that walk my halls is just as, if not, crazier!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Perspective

Perspective…


I constantly talk about the term perspective and how I feel we as a society lack it when it comes to dealing with issues, listening to reports,  in our work places, etc.  We have all heard the saying talking about walking in another person’s shoes.  We constantly try and compare things, complain, or justify with have that proper perspective or understanding of the whole story.  I wonder what it would be like if God lacked perspective?  I would imagine he wouldn’t have sent his son to die on the cross for us.  What if Martin Luther lacked perspective?  Would he have nailed all of those thesis to the door of the church?

Perspective is defined by a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.  We often times do not see the whole picture when it comes to dealings in our everyday life. 

Example from Mark 9:30-37
9:30 They went out from there and passed through Galilee. But Jesus did not want anyone to know, 9:31 for he was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 9:32 But they did not understand this statement and were afraid to ask him.75
9:33 Then they came to Capernaum. When Jesus was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 9:34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 9:35 After he sat down, he called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 9:36 He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 9:37“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

In this case we see the disciples showing a lack of perspective.  I know for me in the pending weeks my perspective will change based life events as all of yours has as well.  Let us know and understand that as we serve the Lord here as an SLT group or in our everyday lives that we need to try and strive for perspective.  Whether its about something in our work, something in our homes, or something in our communities.  The one thing we truly have perspective on is that God has perspective.  He sent his son (the ultimate sacrifice) to die for our salvation.  A true gift!

Live each day with patience, understanding, and perspective!




Friday, November 3, 2017

Educational Mindset

Educational MINDSET

One book that I have recently read is The Innovators Mindset.  I highly recommend this book if you're looking for a good read.  I found this interesting and thought I'd share...our mindset is an effective tool to have in our teaching repertoire.  How we handle and embrace a situation or dilemma directly impacts the outcome for us and for our students.  Take a moment to reflect on what your mindset is.  Often times we miss out on opportunities that we have with students and quite frankly for ourselves.  I believe reflection as one of the most powerful tools for growth.  

Fixed Mindset- belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are fixed traits

Growth Mindset- belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents can be developed

Innovators Mindset- belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed so
                                that they lead to the creation of new and better ideas


Monday, April 10, 2017

Mentors




How many mentors does the average person have? I am not sure what that number is, but I can think of several that have directly affected my life in a way that I would classify them as a mentor.  Personally, I categorize my mentors based upon chapters of my life.  Recently, I spoke with a mentor of mine whom worked directly with me from the end of high school into my early college years (I call this my poor choices years).  I haven't spoken to Chris Davis in over 16 years.  However, I heard some news through the grapevine of some significant life changes, thus  I felt I had to call and chat.

I called one afternoon after hearing that he was stepping down from his current position and said, "Chris Davis, it's Brandon Marolf".  His response was that of great excitement.  After exchanging the initial pleasantries we talked for about 25 minutes.  You wouldn't have guessed it had been over 16 years since we last spoke.

Chris impacted my life in a big way.  As in the case with most good mentors...they don't know they are regarded as mentors or people of special character to us.  They go about doing what they do because it is who they are.  Sometime they learn of the impact they had, but often times they have no idea of the individualized appreciation we share for them.  Chris, (if you ever read this) I can not thank you enough for the impact you had on my life specifically.  My time with you during those years directly shaped me into the man I have become.  From our countless hours playing basketball on Sunday nights to the conversations that we shared in during the (poor choices years).  Our time together is something I still reflect back on today more then you would think.  No matter the next chapter that you decide to write in your life understand that you have changed the lives of countless many and I thank you!

I share this with all of you in the hope that you will not wait to thank someone you might consider a mentor.  Share with them the joy they brought to your life.  The more often we hear this the more inspired we become.  Recently, I had a student in her statement of faith speech in church publicly thank me for helping to inspire her and the selection of her verse.  She continued to thank me for the impact that I had on her life.  I'll be honest, I had no idea!  However, this was one of the most humbling experiences ever for me.

Thank those who have inspired you!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Admitting We're Not the Best...

ARE WE THE BEST COUNTRY? 

Recently I watched a video titled "The Most Honest Three Minutes in TV History", it is a blip from the show "Newsroom".  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML3qYHWRIZk .

This video really sparked me to contemplate on the validity to the statement, America is the best country in the world.  I've grown up in a country where I have been taught to believe we are the greatest country of all time!  We are who everyone strives to become and where all people wish they could be.  It is something that may not necessarily be true anymore.  Now, before I continue, I am not saying I wish I lived somewhere else nor am I speaking negatively about the country that I live in!  Let us be clear.  I love and cherish my country and all those who defend it!  However, many of us have grown up with a belief and somewhat, a sense of arrogance about where we live.  At what point do we pose the question to ourselves about self evaluation?  Are we truly the best or is it just self proclaimed because we were?  Do we just ignore other countries continued advancements over the years?



The video goes on and states the following rankings on America:

  • 7th in Literacy
  • 27th in Math
  • 22nd in Science
  • 1st in Defense Spending                                              Top Education Countries 2014
Now, I know these rankings are constantly changing and which governing agency is conducting these reports does cause the findings to fluctuate in each report, but the fact is we are not what what we think we are.  The first part of fixing a problem is recognizing that there is a problem.  America has become such a different place in just the 35 years that I have been on this earth.  I look at Facebook and watch the news and see a country that is being defiant for the sake of defiance.  Whether it’s rioting and protesting a new President, or disagreeing with a labor law, or violence against police officers, the defiance persists.  I see all these problems. I see all these people complaining. What I don't consistently see are people rallying around others for the greater good within disagreeing groups.  We have become a society that if we don't like something we act out.  We feel that our opinion is the most important and everyone should focus on how we hurt.  We live in a country that is providing "safe places".  Could you imagine Americans 100 years ago talking about safe places?  We continually see attacks on other groups and organizations because "people want to make a point".  

What is this place?  What happened to celebrating creativity?  What happened to wanting to have the next new idea rather then using a recycled idea. Instead of giving everyone a trophy so they feel good, how about creating environments where people have to earn things?  Competition can create work ethic and drive.  You have to work to be good at something then maybe, just maybe you'll earn a prize.  As previously stated, we're #1 in defense spending. Why?  We live in an America which attacks its own police.  I understand their are some unethical and racist police officers.  However, who are we to attack those sworn to serve and protect us and harm good ethical officers to make a point?  
We need to focus on moving forward.  We need to focus on fostering an environment for growth, ingenuity, and progressive thinking.  It is important to understand and teach that life is hard.  Sometimes we don't get what we want and we need to deal with adversity.  From an education standpoint we need to start at the ground level. We must use this opportunity to teach and build up the foundation in order to create .  To help create a new generation of people that facilitate a better tomorrow.  Instead of complaining about things we can come together to positively and creatively make a difference.  In some recent stats I found the following countries to be in the top in economy, education, and political stability.
       Country                      Education                       Political Stability               Economy

            Singapore                   1st                                   15th                                   40th
            Finland                       6th                                   9th                                    44th
            Canada                       10th                                 14th                                  10th
            Australia                    14th                                  25th                                  13th 
            Sweden                      35th                                 22nd                                  22nd
            Norway                      25th                                 19th                                   30th
            New Zealand             17th                                  2nd                                   53rd
            USA                           29th                                 64th                                   1st 
            Austria                       19th                                 8th                                     29th                            
  

Again, I state, I love my country, but instead of basking in the glory of what made it great shouldn't we look at what will make it great again?  I wonder what America we will live in 30 years from now? 15 years from nowTomorrow

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)
http://www.theglobaleconomy.com/rankings/wb_political_stability/
http://fairreporters.net/world/the-best-education-systems-in-the-world-in-2015/




Wednesday, December 14, 2016

American Education Continuing to Fall

American Education System...

According to an article out of the New York Times, the American education system continues to falter when compared to other education systems on the global front.  Every three years the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test is given to 15 year old students in approximately 69 countries.  Now there was hope with some of the standards put into our education system (NCLB 2002) that those implementations would now start to take effect and show success.  However, they did not.  Now, I understand there are flaws with any test and before people scream about biases let's perhaps "pretend" they mean something and evaluate results and potential indicators, thus learning something. 

Countries like Colombia continue to rise.  Analysts attribute this due to a higher priority in enrolling more students at a young age while also raising their standards.  Singapore continues to crush the competition with what they are doing.  One of the chief analysts of the PISA test said, "They are constantly looking outside for ways to improve, questioning the established wisdom.  That's the classic thing that Singapore has always done."  Now in evaluating math, Singapore and Taiwan lead the way with the U.S. in the bottom third.  

The only area the U.S. showed significant growth was in the 2006 socioeconomic status, which explained a 17% variance in science scores, as compared to 2015, where it dropped to 11%.  This was the biggest jump based on socioeconomic status of all countries.  One factor that the PISA team identified was that countries showing strong success make the teaching profession a profession of "prestige".  Based on that prestige and financial compensation the selection pool for teachers is filled with a higher qualified list of professionals.  In some countries such as Finland teachers are spoken of the same regard as that of medical doctors.  Thus, creating a spike in the amount of qualified people that want to join the profession.  


     "Here’s what the models show: Generally speaking, the smartest countries tend to   be those that have acted to make teaching more prestigious and selective; directed


      more resources to their neediest children; enrolled most children in high-quality 

      preschools; helped schools establish cultures of constant improvement; and 
      applied rigorous, consistent standards across all classrooms." 

     -Andreas Schleicher-
   

Standards such as Common Core have been put into place, but were only a major part of our educational system for one year.  Some states follow these standards and some don't.  There is no continuity which, was one of the main overhauling hopes by law makers when implementing this program.  They strive for a unified education system where teachers and districts across the country could effectively evaluate students.

So what do we do?  We have to demand more from our schools, students, and parents.  We need to develop a program filled with standards that make sense and are achievable.  Our society has turned into one that can only do something for 8 seconds (approximate attention span of human; goldfish is 9 seconds).  Thus creates confusion and disconnect between schools across the nation.  We must find a framework that can be our foundational piece. With this piece we can tweak elements of its underlying body, but keeping the core in tact.  Thus, allowing real production and evolution of a systematic model.

Hold your breath for a second...one part of the article discussed that the smaller classes and increase amount of tech might actually be hindering educational growth.  
     

     "Some of the other reforms Americans have attempted nationwide in past years,           including smaller class sizes and an upgrade of classroom technology, do not     

     appear on the list of things that work. In fact, there is some evidence that both 
     policies can have a negative impact on learning." (see links)
As we evaluate this test, our system, and so much more I feel that we need to start from the bottom and work our way up.  We need to stop saying we are going to "teach better" and instead put in the resources needed in the most underdeveloped areas of our country.  The gap between "good" districts and "bad" districts is widening abundantly.  Our inner city schools continue to struggle.  For example, in Baltimore 81% of students graduate in the suburbs while only 41% graduate from city schools.  New York shows a discrepancy of 83% to 54%.  Raising these rates in inner city areas I believe is objective one in strengthening the whole system from bottom to top.

Many steps must follow in the process, but until major consistently administrated reform takes place our country will continue to flow in the middle of the pack with education as compared to the world. 

Brandon Marolf