27 August 2014

Teacher, Can We Have A Word or Two About Standardized Testing and Parents?


A Word or Two about Standarized Testing

A WORD OR TWO ABOUT STANDARDIZED TESTING (and PARENTS)

As the new school year is now well underway, well at least in my neck of the woods, it is time to talk about the never-ending drama known as Standardized Testing.

Over the years, I have read and heard about teachers complaining that they cannot teach because all they really do is spend an inordinate amount of teaching time on "teaching to the test". The “test” being some form of Standardized Test.

I ask Teachers everywhere: If you spend so much time teaching to the test then why are there SO MANY children who fail these standardized tests?

What? Yes, many fail these tests.

Why?
Great question! Ask Teachers, they will tell you because those kids are not teachable. They are not reading at the level they should be for their age. They do not get the support at home. The previous grade's Teacher(s) failed to see that the kids needed extra help. The system failed them. The answers go on and on and on, ad nauseam.

However, there has to be a cause to this problem.

Ask a Parent who is at fault and they will say the Teacher is the cause.

Ask a Teacher who is at fault and they will say the Parent is the cause.

Get both of them in the same room and they will say that the system has failed the children.

See the problem? None of them want to take the blame but all of them are ready to point fingers at one another.

I say it is the Teacher and the Parent, together and separate.

Let’s start with the Teacher. Not because they are the easy target but they are the “professional” and they should “know better” and so on and so on, ad nauseam.

Teacher those kids failed on your watch!

Who holds you accountable? What??? Hold you accountable? How dare I?

Seriously, I will always hold someone, including myself, accountable when the situation calls for it.

When children cannot pass a simple standardized test then you had better believe that as a parent I would hold each and every teacher accountable. I will always hold a teacher accountable and the organization that hired that individual because I can only imagine the horror that would ensue if that teacher were given free rein to teach (sans Standardized Tests).

Think about it and in your own words, "they are dumbing down the education of youth" by requiring standardized test. Yet, teachers are failing at that simple task.

Simple Task?

That is what we as parents are told by those same teachers. From what some Teachers have told me, they are “forced” to teach to the test and are not allowed to teach the children what they must to be taught to succeed in school and in life.

To me when they are “forced” to teach to a level, that ideally all youth should achieve some passing level of competency, there should then be no excuse for any child to fail to achieve a proper level of competency at that “drastically reduced” level of education.

Plain and simple, they are failing to teach to a test that “dumbs down” the education of our youth. I now return to the question of: Who will hold those Teachers accountable?

Can you see where I am going with this?

If a Teacher cannot achieve a level of competency with standardized testing then what will being allowed to teach what they were taught to teach do to the kids?


WHAT ABOUT PARENTS? THEY NEED TO DO THEIR PART!

You are correct! Parents need to do their part every day (weekends and holidays included). I know I try to do my part with my children.

I do hold my kids accountable just as I hold myself accountable when I fail to do something. However, what about those situations that happen when that whole Teachers and Parents working together just doesn’t work out.

The thing is I fear that teachers are conditioned to expect negative support from parents. That conditioning runs so far and deep that they do NOT know what to do when a parent actually wants to be involved. Sure they say they appreciate the offer and the help but at most it is just a token gesture on the Teacher's part.
 
Thus, for the parent it becomes a double-edged sword. The school administration will chastise ALL Parents for not being active participants in the education of their children. Then when they want to participate and want to make a positive difference, Parents are shunned by Teachers when they actually want to go through with it and truly want to step up to help.

The Teacher does not know how to welcome the one thing they have wanted (and in most cases demanded): Help from the Parents. The Teacher seems to go out of their way to alienate the Parent and then what? Exactly, the same old song and dance from the Parents and the Teachers.

Does the same old song and dance mean complacency?

You better believe it does!

It means that all of us will fall into that same old dumb routine about complaining about each other and again that is unacceptable. In the end, the Child is not being properly served standardized test or not.

That my friends, allies, comrades, cohorts, enemies, and foes is NOT a good thing. Never has been and never will be.


Thank you for you time,
David Guerra


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25 August 2014

Break Free from the temptation of Leading by Sitting Down

Break Free from the temptation of Leading by Sitting Down
Break Free from the temptation of Leading by Sitting Down


As a Manager, Director, Supervisor and whatever other title you and I have today, it is a sad reality that it can get easy to Lead by Sitting Down. No! It gets VERY easy to Lead by Sitting Down and that is completely unacceptable.

What is Leading by Sitting Down?

Leading by sitting down is what happens when managers, directors, or supervisors become complacent. When we truly believe the best way to lead is by picking up the telephone, sending off an email, sending a fax, or worse: sending someone to do the work for us. We dictate by sitting in our chairs and hoping that things are done then truly expect to hold others accountable at the first sign of trouble.

Seriously, the only time we get off our respective ass is when we get up to get another cup of coffee, or go to lunch, go home for the day, or the weekend.

If someone has not told you, let me be the first: YOU ARE NOT LEADING. Plain and simple: You are barely managing.

You cannot fake Leading when you are Leading by Sitting Down.

If someone told you it is OK to “lead by sitting down”, even occasionally, well that someone is WRONG.

As tempting as it can be, you have to get out there and walk around. Get out there and press the palm of your hand against the palm of the hand of all your stakeholders. That is what a Leader does.
A leader will get out there and make things happen. A leader by being present will encourage others to make things happen. Good things.

However, remember it will not be easy. It goes with the job.

As a leader, you will do things that are NOT easy. Remember, easy does not play into grown up life. Easy is never easy. Doing the easy thing always has a price that must be paid. That price is "losing touch with your staff, your customers, your clients, your stakeholders" and once lost it is very difficult to recover.

Over the years, many of us experienced those kind of managers and supervisors. Let those managers and supervisors serve as cautionary tales. Do not be that kind of manager, instead get up, start walking and start leading. That is the only way to avoid the temptation of Leading by Sitting Down



Thank you,
David Guerra

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16 August 2014

Five Lessons for Future Leaders

Five Lessons for Future Leaders

The age old question: Are Leaders Born or Are Leaders Made?

Personally, I go back and forth with the answer. There are times when I have seen a natural born leader take charge and give credit to that answer of "Yes, they are born."

Then again, there have been times that I have seen someone rise up from the organization's shadows and lead others to accomplish great things. Things that their own managers would never think about doing.

Thus, the question lives and it will live on for a very long time.

However, one thing is certain: To become a Great Leader you have to be an even better follower. In my upcoming sequel to "The Walking Leader" I have put together another 20 rules/guides/lessons to help Future Leaders become better followers.

Does this mean that I am answering the question? NO! It means that no matter who you are once you start on the path to becoming a leader you have to keep on that path. Along the way there are a few things to remember. Here are just five of them.


1. You Know Nothing
Sure you went to high school, college, vocational school,  grad school, and you have your education, congratulations but that is it. Unless you have worked at the organization before getting your education you walk into that company NOT knowing thing one about how that organization works. The company website, Facebook, twitter, and Instagram page tell you NOTHING about that company's culture, they may scratch the surface but it will never tell you the true nitty-gritty details. Others within the company can tell you but until you are knee deep in it, you know nothing.

2. Keep Your Mouth Shut
While you are learning how to fit into the corporate culture and how to do your job the company way my next lesson is for you to keep your mouth shut. Nothing sounds like nails scratching across a chalkboard more than hearing someone saying "back in school" or "back in basic training." Basic training or school is just that: school. You are there to learn the basics and that's it. You are there to learn the bare minimum. However, once you get to your first job or duty station (for those of you in the military) then it is the time to shut up and become a sponge. Soak up everything that your leaders, tenured staff, peers, and co-workers will to teach you. 

WORD OF ADVICE: If your new organization welcomes you aboard and then says get to work without so much as an orientation briefing, it is time to run to the hills.

3. Ask Questions 
Always ask questions! Ask questions, especially, when someone is teaching you something. Asking questions serves two purposes. First, asking questions ensures that you know and fully understand what is going on and what you will be held accountable for. Lastly, asking questions lets those that are teaching you know just how well you are grasping the training and just how well you will fit in within the organization.

4. Seek Out Mentors
Everyone needs a mentor or mentors. No matter where you go and what you do having a mentor to help and guide you in and outside the organization is always a great thing. One thing to remember, a mentor does NOT have to be your immediate supervisor. It does have to be someone you trust, you believe will be good for you, and will steer you in the right direction. 

WORD OF ADVICE: Do not select a mentor solely on the belief that their position or tenure with the company will skyrocket your career. If that's why you are doing this, STOP right now and move along nothing more for you to see or do here.

5. Have Fun
From the moment you set foot in the door filling that entry-level position to the moment you collect that gold watch and retire from the organization remember to do one thing: HAVE FUN!  If you are not having fun then why bother? Having fun as a follower will most certainly ensure that you will have fun as a leader. All the great leaders that I have known certainly liked to have their fun.

There they are, five simple lessons to take with you for your entire career. Don't forget to master them and then teach them to others (hint, that's the fun part).

Thank you,
David Guerra

P.S. I do invite you to join the conversation and tell me what you think about this post and all the others here on my blog.

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13 August 2014

Attention Leaders


Written in the Talmud is a great piece of advice and a great reminder about people and life. It is quite an "in your face" statement and isn't that what we need every once in a while?

In this case, I am making this quote a call to action for all that are leaders at work, at home, at school, anywhere and everywhere. Please know and understand that when I say Leader I mean anyone who has become the individual that people turn to because they want to and not because they have to.

Attention Leaders: The time has come to put up! We want you to know, it is time for a lot more action!


Thank you,
Dave Guerra


I invite you to
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12 August 2014

5 Productivity Tips from a Master Procrastinator

5 Productivity Tips from a Master Procrastinator

For a long time I was a Complete Procrastinator. Look up procrastination in the dictionary and there was my picture.

However, after years of struggle and plenty of unfinished projects I realized the only way things were going to be done was to get up and do them. One day, I got off my ass and started to get stuff done. Next thing I knew, my life was in some kind of order and the first three books that I had longed to finish writing were written and published.

I am NOT claiming that I am productivity guru. I will NEVER claim that I am a guru of anything. I will claim the opposite but I can honestly say that I have done a few things without fail since that fateful day. 

I am still not the best at getting things done but these 5 tips sure do make my life simpler.

1. Make a list
Personally, I try to make my list at the end of the day. I do it at the end of the workday that way it is waiting for me when I arrive in the morning. At home, I make a list just before I go to bed that way I do not forget, in the morning, especially after a restful night's sleep. Whatever works for you is all right by me. Just as long as you make that list!

2. Do what is on that list
Do not prioritize the list after you have made it. I never do. I just throw everything onto paper, an index card, a post-it, or whatever. Then once it is all there, I get to work. Typically, the most important stuff will find its way to the top of the list. Top to bottom, bottom to top, every other, or whatever your preference just get to work on the list.

3. What cannot be done today automatically moves to tomorrow's list
There will be times that you just cannot do everything on your list. That is acceptable. On those days, you have to roll with the punches. There is nothing more frustrating than busting your hump all day only to find out that you cannot complete all the items on your list. Do not let it get you down. Just move those items to tomorrow's list. Now, there will be times when you have completed part of the item and now you are waiting for someone to respond (via email or phone) or results are not yet available, you completed the item on your list. Mark it as done.

Once you get your answer then add it to your list. Remember, once it is done, it is done. What I am trying to say is, there is absolutely no reason to drag this out over three or more days on your daily list. If it is on your list move heaven and earth if you have to but get it done.

4. Use Your Calendar 
You have access to countless electronic calendars. USE THEM! Use them to remind you of important events, due dates, and to remind you to create your daily list. You can use the one on your smart phone. I use my Gmail calendar and have it synchronized with my phone.

Those around me might think I use the synchronized calendar a little too much as it is constantly beeping at me. Try it. Heck, try them all. Keep trying them until you find the one (or two) that work for you and use it or them.

5.  Repeat
Like the directions on a bottle of shampoo. To get the most effective return on these tips you must WASH, RINSE, and REPEAT. You have to use them, once or twice a day, then repeat the process tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and so on.

Of course, there are countless other tips on the Internet and what may work for someone else might not work for you. By the same token, what works for me might not work for you. Remember, all that I am offering here is what works for me.

This works after a lot of trial and error. Do not get discouraged if whatever you try does not work for you. On the contrary, it should motivate you to find what does work for you. I wrote it before and I will write it again: Try it.

Also, I would like to hear from you and share with everyone what works for you? I also want to hear about what did NOT work for you? Tell me on Twitter (@daveguerra) or right here in the comment section.


Thank you and now get back to work,
David Guerra

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09 August 2014

5 Simple Daily Habits to ignite your passion for SUCCESS in Business, School, and Life.

5 Simple Daily Habits to ignite your passion for SUCCESS in Business, School, and Life.


Here are the five things I do everyday (weekends included). They are not difficult to do, the difficult thing is remaining consistent. Give it a try.

Exercise.
It doesn't matter if you go for a 30 minute walk or a 3 mile run just get out there and exercise. Remember to hydrate, stretch, and hydrate some more. I prefer and recommend hydrating with plain old water, you know H20.


Read.
Read something, anything. Read the back of the cereal box. Read War and Peace. It doesn't matter what it is just so long as you are reading. I am always reading. I feel that may day is not complete if I don't read the latest news when I wake up and go to bed. In between, I read everything that I can get my hands on. I have one book in the office, one in the car, and two at home that I am reading and I am not even mentioning the countless books on my phone and tablet.

Write.
Write everyday. I have multiple blogs and writing two books (at the same time, YIKES). They (they being everyone) say there are two ways to become a better writer: Read and Write. If you are not actively writing that's OK. Start off small say something like a 100 word daily journal entry then increase your daily word count and before you know you are writing the Great American Novel that you always dreamed of writing.

Teach.
I have heard two things on teaching. #1. Those that can't, teach. #2. Those that teach are the ones that have the confidence in what they have learned. However, nowhere does it say you must have a teaching degree or a PhD to teach others. Of course, it helps but it is NOT mandatory. I have known people that solely have a lifetime of real world experience and can teach anyone anything.

Sleep.
Get plenty of sleep. Get it when you can. Get 8 hours of good quality sleep. I try to get at least 7 hours of sleep. Of course, there are times that four or three hours of sleep will have to do but don't do it that often. The goal is and always will be 8 quality hours. Notice how I keep mentioning "quality"? The key here is to sleep in a comfortable, dark, and quiet setting. Try it.

Now I don't guarantee these five daily habits would bring millions and millions of dollars but it doesn't hurt to give it a try. I can guarantee that if you exercise, read, write, teach, and sleep more you will feel better and when you feel better you can do just about anything.

I want to hear from you what are your daily habits?


Thank you for taking the time read my post,
David Guerra



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04 August 2014

MIDDAY NUGGET: Do you know what time it is?



This is the story of one company and three different hours of operations.

Last Saturday, my wife received a text message telling her that her new glasses were ready. It also said that she could pick them up anytime between 8AM and 5PM Monday through Friday. Great, she had been looking forward to her new glasses when she had them ordered over a week prior to that.

So come Monday morning she arrives at 8:00 AM sharp. She tries to open the door but no dice it is still closed. Then she notices that the sign on the door says OPEN M-F 8:30 to 5:30PM. She then see people inside and thinks to herself that this might be a mistake. Why send a text message telling her to show up at 8 AM to pick up her glasses. No answer, until the answering machine answers.

The voice recording states that they are closed and that the hours of operation are 8:20 (yes, EIGHT - TWENTY) AM to 6:00 PM. She hangs up and gives me a call.

She then fills me in on the different time situation. Then I visit their website and confirm their hours of operations: 8:20 AM to 6:00 PM. Their Facebook page says: 8:30 AM to 6:00PM.

I pass along what I just learned to my wife. She said she will wait until they open their doors for business. She called me later.

They finally opened the door at 8:30AM. The technician that assisted her with the fitting of her glasses was very professional and had it all done in within 10 minutes. Before she left, my wife, asked the technician why she was texted one time, the answering machine said a different time, and the front door something different.

Why the 3 different times?

My wife said that the lady rolled her eyes said, "oh, I know who texted you. I will tell the doctor about the different times."

That was it! Nothing more.

I spot checked today and all three different times remain in place.

WHAT DOES ANY OF THIS MEAN?

Business Owners if you want to confuse your clients and potential clients and keep them guessing? Want to lose clients and potential clients keep them guessing about your hours of operation?

Then do anything and everything you can to keep them guessing. Leave then confused about your hours of operation. Make absolutely certain they have no idea what your mission statement is. Above all, leave them completely baffled as to what your are selling or buying or producing or manufacturing.

Seriously, it is 2014 and there is absolutely no need to keep people guessing.


Thank you,
David Guerra

P.S. I do invite you to join the conversation and tell me what you think about this post and all the others here on my blog.

As always you can read this blog post in its original location at http://daveguerra.blogspot.com

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