Short-lived befuddlement, instead, perhaps… ED 653

Original Post

So much for deadlines.

The young people who work for me are traditional college age students 18-21. Many come from preparatory schools, though not all. The libraries actually do a good job of recruiting students of color, and international students. The international students are perhaps as privileged as our majority students are. Frequently they are recruited from programs like UWC International. Some of our international students are at Colby, in part, on a “can pay” basis. Meaning they are paying entirely out of pocket. A few of our students come from working class backgrounds. One might presume that such a talent pool should make hiring easy. Alas, excellence in academics and sports does not necessarily translate to a good work ethic or an appropriate professional demeanor. Frequently their work experience is very limited sometimes constrained to summer camp staff or even volunteer work. All of that aside we are talking about some very intelligent, focused and hardworking young people. Out of this pool, we train and develop student employees. Moreover, from those we train we recruit student supervisors. We require that student supervisor’s interview with our entire permanent staff, five of us, and one aspect of their interview is to come prepared to teach us something. I have learned to make peanut butter sandwiches, various origami… things, how to play Angry Birds, and one person taught us to triple jump,  as a sampler.

Wait, the UPS driver just called. “How is your driveway?” “You might not want to come up.” “Can you meet me in 10 minutes?” “I’ll be there.” So, now I have to ask you all to hold that thought while I go read Chapter Six…. Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, ok, I am back.

And, I have to say that our authors may be good teachers, good instructional designers, but they are not good philosophers. They are making the notion of “understanding” do too much work; as best I can see “understanding” is every step in and the whole of cognition. I will whine about this more in the forums and here instead focus on the work Owen requires. First, “create a brainstorm.”  Then sort that crap out:

  • Worth being familiar with (wbfw)
  • Important to know and do (Itkad)
  • Big ideas and core tasks (core)

Taking the Step up to Supervision

Awkward: (itkad, perhaps even core)

  • supervising former co-workers (peers)
  • supervising “Friends”
  • supervising seasoned employees (people on the job longer than you)
  • being accepted by your new peer group
  • getting the supervision you need
  • dealing with colleagues who applied for the position you got
  • discomfort with being in the middle

Organization Mission and how promotion changes ones relation to it(core)

Core Leadership Theories (wbfw)

Leadership Styles (Itkad)

Communication (core)

  • Effective and extensive listening skills
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Crucial conversation (the ability to say the truth and maintain trust and respect)
  • Coaching

Project Management/Delegation (itkad)

  • When
  • Who
  • How
  • Control

Management (wbfw)

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Operations
  • Product development and delivery
  • Technology

So, this is the rough shape of the brainstorm. This is just pulling crap out of my head. I am sure I have forgotten important stuff. I am equally sure that I need to put meat on these bones.

First enduring understanding: If my expectations are unclear, the employee’s performance will be vague as well. Corollary to that, doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is simply stupid.

I think this is important to me as leader.  It keeps me honest when I assess employee performance.  It keeps me honest as well when I am not getting the performance I want from employees.  Perhaps I need to ask for, train, role model, coach in a different way to achieve different results.

Second enduring understanding: leadership is what we do with people, including ourselves. Management is what we do with money and stuff (glibly speaking for librarians, books, for example). Both are important and both require different, perhaps unrelated knowledge and skills, even talent.

I think it is hard to be excellent at both sets of skills.  In a purely subjective universe, I prefer leadership skills at optimum levels and management skills at good levels.  I believe that is true currently.  I wonder about it in the future as we replace people with technology here I am thinking about Amazon’s web site replacing cashiers and customer service personal, and their robotic retrieval system replacing warehouse staff, for one example.

Third enduring understanding: Communication, communication, communication getting it all done depends upon excellence in communication in all forms.

This is hard to learn.  It is hard to be a good writer, it is hard to be a good speaker, it is hard to paint or draw well, and I know nothing about music, or dance.  Yet I can see every day that when I get it right(and that is tentative, fleeting and subjective) the work gets easier.

Now because I find our authors to be confusing on “understanding” I am going to have to circle back to the final element of this assignment. “Once you’ve created a list of content priorities and identified the big ideas, the next step is to craft the wording for your “Enduring Understandings.” In pursuit of this goal, read Chapter 6 in the Understanding by Design text.” I am looking forward to a lively conversation in the forums because I think we have to get a much clearer grasp of what we mean by this if we are going to make it central to our instructional design.

Owen, are we heading in the direction you hoped for this assignment?

Eureka: discovery of a topic, ED 653

In our coursework for last terms Online Pedagogy class I discovered the following article. It gelled the whole project selection process for me in an instant.

See, A. & Teetor, T. S., (2014) Effective e-Training: Using a Course Management System and e-Learning Tools to Train Library Employees, Journal of Access Services, 11:2, 66-90, DOI: 10.1080/15367967.2014.896217,

Between our three libraries, we operate with a crew of seventy student employees across the several service desks. Our challenge is to turn teenagers into service professionals quickly and consistently. We focus intently on their training and have developed over the years a toolkit of techniques and resources for the task. We have flirted with using the college’s learning management system (lms) in this case Moodle for five or six years and yet never made the commitment. The three links below trace the development of a Moodle unit. I will be piloting the unit this spring. We have selected new hires for the JanPlan and spring terms as well returning employees who we are grooming, potentially for supervisory roles, to participate.

Owen, however has clearly managed expectations when he writes, this:

If you’re enrolled in the M.Ed. program, you may eventually take—or have taken—the Online Pedagogy course. That course and this one are complementary. The culminating project in the Online Pedagogy course is a unit-sized curriculum plan. The culminating project in this course is a complete online learning module. In both courses, you will be writing learning objectives. In adherence to UAF’s student code of conduct, you may not turn in the same assignment(s) for both courses. You may submit work on similar subject matter as long as the product is substantively distinct. For example, you might work on two separate learning modules for the same subject. These would have distinct learning objectives, assessments, and activities. Contact me if you have questions about how to integrate assignments in the two courses.

So, obviously I will be creating an altogether new project though I will be working in the same arena. Last term I proposed three potential modules settling in the end on the Professional Demeanor unit described above. The other two, were Emergency Procedures, and Photocopiers/Printers. In truth I wish I had the experience of teaching the unit on demeanor in hand already. That experience would help with evaluating these topics. Nonetheless, I am still pleased to be teaching and developing at the same time since I believe a virtuous cycle can be accomplished in that practice.

One of the key conclusions in the article above is that online education has a place in this work/training environment but that it like the flipped/blended classroom has to be accompanied by face-to-face training and coaching (these are two distinct tasks in developing employees). As we all know perfect teaching/training does not necessarily equate to perfect performance. This is in part because there is a difference between knowledge and skills. Therefore, in the workplace, rehearsal/practice and coaching build skills and because we evaluate performance (changes in behavior) as indicating learning, we cannot rely entirely on online presentation. Accordingly, which of the topics lends themselves more to a blended and flipped environment? If I am limited to these two topics then Emergency Response is probably the more fertile ground.

Part of me is still holding out for a better topic for this course work….

I just had a flash of inspiration! A topic close to my heart is leadership and so a third potential is a unit focused on our student supervisors. This topic fits extremely well in the blended/flipped environment.   We depend heavily on the student supervisors and yet much of their training is real world, pushed into the deep end — not the best, or most systematic learning.

So, there you go: Leadership/Management for new Supervisors.

Orientation, ED 653

Original Post

Just running two weeks behind here Owen generously let me come and play.   I work at Colby College in Maine.  Have done so since 1991.  I am in the application process to the ONID program.  And, per my usual am taking the program backwards.  However, if our text authors are right then this is actually good practice and my required core courses will be all the better (wink).   I will not repeat what I offered in the forum.  Rather I will keep this brief.  Owen, I am late, behind on assignments, and you are about to turn on the content fire-hose — time for a big drink.  Looking forward to learning from you all.