Imagine if Retail Used SOLs in Their Business(es)?

On the way to work this morning and sitting in traffic, I looked out over the Elizabeth River and the port and wondered, “What would happen if the Standards of Learning were put in businesses and other professions?” Hmmmmm….

The manager of Big Box Electronic Store called his staff for a meeting one Saturday morning. In fact, this meeting was so important, he decided to close the business for two hours so that the new accountability/evaluation procedures could be introduced: The Sales of Life Standards. After seeing that all were present, the meeting began.

“Good morning everyone. Today we are starting a new accountability system for your performance reviews. In order to see growth and make sure our store chain is the best in the world, we want to stretch your performance on the sales floor.” He discussed the particulars of the program.

In year one, baseline data will be taken to see what sales averages are in each department. From there, a minimum dollar amount per department will be established, and hire/fire rates will be determined. In year two, each employee will be given a minimum sales quota per day. If these are not met after the first semester, employees will be put on a warning. After the second semester, if the quota is not met, somebody from corporate headquarters will be shadowing you to determine what the employee’s problem is. For those that meet minimum requirements, the quota will go up each semester with the eventual goal that every customer that comes through the door will buy a minimum of $100 per visit and each store will be held accountable.

Employees went ballistic!

“What if a customer is just getting information before making a future purchase?”

“Too bad. He must buy.”

“The economy! Customers can’t afford that much! EVERY single customer must buy $100 per visit by 2013?”

“Yes!”

The manager also mentioned that due to the bad economy, salaries would be cut.

The stress level of the employees went through the troposphere. In fact, as every customer came in, employees were grabbing them by the collar and pulled them face-to-face. “WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BUY? PLEASE!!!!!” Frightened, customers were seen running out the door screaming. Soon, customers were frightened and hated visiting the store. Shopping became so stressful that they didn’t even come close to entering the building anymore. The manager soon noticed his sales were plummeting. Employee morale was at rock bottom. Laughing stopped and creativity was gone. The atmosphere was all gloom. Smiling was rare. The evaluation process was not a success, for employees couldn’t figure out why they couldn’t get 100% of the customers to make major purchases.

The point of this story? Our customers, the students, can feel this pressure. As schools head towards 100% of students must pass state tests in 2014, is our stress taken away? No—it only gets worse. However, we can do something about it:

Let students have breathing room: instead of worksheets, how about tracking their progress with a Quia activity? Yes, they could enjoy a game online, but I could help you track their progess: you have data and remediation records, and they don’t have another worksheet.
Lower your paper work: Quia can track grades for you, grade the paper, and provide reports for you. Your stress plummets.
Laugh: what if we had a humor/joke post on the blog? When you feel overwhelmed, take a laugh break?
Put learning in their hands: What if we made a Voicethread? Podcast? Blog (see Mrs. Craig’s latest).

And last, but not least, invite me to your classroom to coteach. You won’t feel the burden all by yourself!

Dare to Dream with Your Students: How About a Travel Blog/Wiki?

Big Ben at Midnight“Quick! We’ve got to go–now!” The urgency of her voice said there was no time to waste. We grabbed our things and ran out of the McDonald’s as it was closing for the night.

My friends and I had just taken the Chunnel Train (EuroStar) from Paris to London, and after living on a backpacker’s style budget while there, McDonald’s seemed like the Fat Canary in Williamsburg. The body was tired, but the adventure moved the adreneline to action. Jumping on the Underground, we set forth to an unknown destination picked by our host/friend.

“Run!” she said. We rocketed out of the Underground and headed for the stairs to exit the subway. As we roared around the corner, the station was closing and gates were going up, and our host pleaded our case for them to let us out. As I started up the stairs to the outside, having no idea where I was (we had been up since 5 a.m.), I heard a deep, low, resounding “Bong! Bong!” There, at the top of the stairs, was Big Ben ringing midnight. We all stood at the base, amazed. Looking around, our host had a grin that said, “Always trust me when I say run!” Another adventure to add to the journal! Intrigued? How about experiencing a traffic jam, quite unlike Tidewater’s?Traffic Jam I worked in the mountains of China in a small town, and on my way to explore caves one afternoon after work, there was a tie up. top of the worldWant to know what the top of the world, the Arctic Ocean, looks like? I took this on the way to Beijing. Or, ever wonder what it’s like CLIMBING the Great Wall? Note that you’re looking at a VERY steep incline:
note the hard climb

Intrigued? I wanted to whet your appetite, for I found a great blogging site from Discovery of students/classes who are taking trips around the world to such places as Australia, China, and the Arctic. Complete with pictures and posts, students share their adventures and travels. Even though we’re not privileged enough to take our students on adventures, imagine if you could read blogs, or better yet, collaborate with classes around the world? Tie this in with geography, Social Studies, or what-have-you, it would give your students a chance to dream and have a goal to have! Even one of our own, Mrs. Pennington, had a blog from her travels to Poland this summer! After exploring the Discovery blogs, if you’re interested, let me know. I’ll be happy to do some footwork and research and see what and who I can find to start a collaboration project with. Dream BIG!parisIMG_0988

Yes, You Can Blog with Class!

Many teachers have been asking me how they can start a blog in their classroom. I.T. will soon be rolling out procedures, rules, and the application process for how you can start one with your students.

In order to have students be able to work in a safe Internet environment, blogs will be supervised through the auspices of the Instructional Technology Department. Until applications are open, here are some of your local teachers who have started blogging with their classrooms:

=>Read, Write, and Blog (Olive Branch)
=>Tyler’s Tomes (John Tyler)
Some Portsmouth Public Schools Summer Camps:
=>Read, Write, and Publish
=> Camp Coral Reef Reflections
=>Get It W.R.I.T.E.
=>Tech Cadet Boot Camp (blogging camp for students during the summer)

Outside Portsmouth:
=>Richard III Literature Blog (this teacher was actually contacted through this blog from an expert in England–way too cool!)
=>Book Review blog
=>Outsiders blog (students create the posts for outsiders to comment)

Portsmouth Instructional Technology Department workshops/seminars

=> Crime Scene Investigations :We also presented at the ISTE (International Society of Technology Education) Conference in Atlanta this past June. This is how we posted information for participants via a blog
This will give you some ideas to get the creative juices flowing. Questions? Contact your building TRT for more information.