There has been growing concern in the UK about evident drawbacks of the current educational system being dubbed as "exam factory".
Hundreds of parents, teachers and children's writers expressed their concern that children are getting burdened by ever-increasing pressure in today's schools.
"We are concerned to hear of children crying on their way to school, upset that they will not be able to keep up: of parents worried that their 4-year-olds are 'falling behind' or of 6-year-olds scared that 'they might not get a good job' ... And we wonder what has happened to that short period in our lives known as 'childhood'," says the letter signed by over 400 concerned teachers and parents.
It's certainly one proof that the current model of education needs to change so students can get a more "grounded and rounded education" -- for their own good and for that of the country.
According to The Shearin Group Training Services, the letter went on to touch on the ill effects on teachers and children of numerous exams dominating most of school time. Worse, some students who are under pressure would tend to switch off and just stop trying altogether. Even the so-called cream of the crop are obviously struggling to keep their place.
It's as if education is all about students passing an exam, something that doesn't obviously translate to real learning all the time. They are told to retake exams countless times until they pass -- as if the act of passing itself is supposed to mean everything.
As noted by The Shearin Group Training Services, such system does not help at all in preparing students for the future or in equipping them with the all-important critical thinking. In the end, this is not "teaching" children but merely "drilling" them.
Another signatory to the letter who is a senior official of Pre-School Learning Alliance warned, "The current focus on formal testing and measurable outcomes risks encouraging a 'tick-box' approach to early education, a shift that would undoubtedly have a detrimental impact on children's early learning experiences."
Moreover, it's not only frustrating for students but for teachers as well. For instance, statistics from the Department of Education revealed that most teachers are working more than 50 hours per week on average, most of it spent on "unnecessary or bureaucratic" activities.
Michael Rosen, popular novelist and poet, said it succinctly when he commented: "You can sit in a bookshop and see people buying books full of mock tests and blank pages to fill in -- and ignoring the real books."
Monday, 23 March 2015
Sunday, 22 February 2015
Your CV has made the cut, now it’s time for presentations, demonstration lessons and psychometric tests. Here’s how to prepare for success
Interviews for teaching jobs used to involve a half-hour chat to a panel of well-meaning governors. But these days, they are more like physical and psychological assault courses with presentations, demonstration lessons, psychometric tests, observations and in-tray exercises. And if you’re applying for a senior teaching job, you need to prepare yourself for the practical tests as well as the formal interview.
Give a lesson plan to the observers beforehand so if it all goes horribly wrong at least they know what you intended to achieve. Detail how you plan to differentiate and show progress, even if there wasn’t time during the demo lesson.
Mary Glynn, candidate development manager at Prospero Teaching, says: “The first question the panel are likely to ask at the formal interview will be about evaluating your performance in practical things like the demo lesson. Focus on answering this well – show you are a reflective teacher and can justify the decisions you made.”
Be ready to explain at interview how you differentiated, especially for EAL or SEN, how you planned for progress, justify why you changed tack or improvised and acknowledge any mistakes you made.
Don’t expect parity, though. You could get a tough year 9 group when another candidate gets sweet little year 7s. Your lesson might have to be taught after the formal interview while another might be interviewed before.
You are likely to be asked to do a 10-minute presentation on the role you are applying for. You might be asked about your vision for the English department or how you would take forward safeguarding, pastoral care or behaviour in the school. Here’s how to deliver a cracking presentation:
Plan a beginning, middle and an end – basically tell a story in about why you are right for the job.
- Your beginning (maximum two minutes). Think A,B,C and D:
A is for attention – get the panel’s attention with an arresting quote or statistic.
B is for benefit – what is the interview panel about to learn from you in next 10 minutes? Summarise it in 15 seconds.
C is for credentials – tell them (again in 15 seconds) what your credentials are.
D is for direction – give them a 20-second outline of the structure of your presentation so they’ll remember it once you have finished.
- Your middle (maximum seven minutes). This is your content, the meat in the sandwich. Give a compelling outline of your vision supplemented perhaps by a diagram or infographic, maybe a few stats, a very short video clip all on half a dozen PowerPoint slides.
- Your ending (maximum one minute). Finish with a call to action or an inspiring line that sums up you and what you will do.
You are required to observe someone else’s lesson to test whether you can identify outstanding teaching. They’ll be looking to assess the quality of your written and oral feedback, your confidence to assess what you observed or a coaching tip to develop skill and technique. You also need to show a wider appreciation of your subject knowledge or leadership potential.
These test your ability to prioritise and cope under pressure. Can you deal with a dozen things coming at you at once? How will you prioritise urgent matters like multiple staff absences, coursework deadlines and the school boiler breaking down all on the same morning? You can prepare for these by searching for examples on the internet. Search for “in-tray exercises for teachers” – Exeter University and @TeacherToolKit has them. There are no right answers but practising helps you prepare.
These are a harder to prepare for because they are supposed to objectively test your mental ability, aptitude and personality. You may be asked to engage with a variety of exercises that test your verbal and numerical ability or your abstract, spatial or mechanical reasoning. I did one for a headship with the three other candidates for the job that involved building a three-foot high tower with paper clips and sheets of A4. It was worse than an episode of The Apprentice.
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
The Shearin Group Leadership Training in Hong Kong: Sushi Maki CEO’s five tips for growing your business
The success of South Florida’s popular local restaurant chain Sushi Maki didn’t come overnight. Its founder and CEO, Abe Ng, suffered the failure of another business before figuring out how to stay afloat in Miami’s local economy.
Ng’s first restaurant endeavor lasted just two years. Though he and his former business partner are still friends, Ng said the partnership didn’t work. Now he tells his mentees to ask themselves, “Does this person see the world in the same way I do?” before choosing a business partner.
Ng’s parents immigrated to Miami from Hong Kong and started the local Canton Chinese restaurant chain when Ng was a child. He grew up in the family business, learning the lifestyle and business savvy necessary to become an entrepreneur.
Now he runs Canton, as well as Sushi Maki, which grew from one restaurant in Coral Gables to 15 locations all over Miami, including one at MMC.
On Jan. 28, in a speech sponsored by the Center for Leadership as part of their 2015 Leadership Lecture Series, he gave FIU students his five best tips for starting a small business in Miami:
1. Dream Big, Be Frugal
Sushi Maki was born on a low budget; the company’s first logo was made on Microsoft Word, and its only delivery van was jokingly labeled “008” to give the impression there was a fleet of vehicles.
“If you have a vision, don’t spend your money. Survive,” said Ng. “Some of the best businesses come when you have no money and your back is against the proverbial wall.”
2. Chief Energy Officer
Being CEO is about more than just running the company. Instead of chief executive officer, Ng sees the CEO’s role as the “chief energy officer.”
At Sushi Maki, Ng takes the time to make sure his employees are happy, even when they have to work on holidays. Ng makes sure to get out on Christmas with his family in tow to visit employees and thank them for working.
“You need to love the journey you’re on and love building teams,” said Ng.
3. Best-in-class Partnerships
FIU’s Sushi Maki, located in the Graham Center, represents the “power of great relationships” as many of Ng’s employees, including his sister-turned-business partner, are FIU graduates.
Sushi Maki has a diverse range of partnerships, from a restaurant at Miami International Airport to his newest endeavor, sushi stations inside South Florida Whole Foods stores.
Ng’s advice to young entrepreneurs: “Be in a good partnership for the long haul.”
4. Open Networks
“Make yourselves available to be mentored,” said Ng. Outside of the support and training he received growing up in a family that owned a restaurant, Ng found a mentor in FIU graduate and Pollo Tropical founder Larry Harris. Now he sees it as his responsibility to offer advice and support to people trying to start a business.
Ng also said having a strong support network, especially in your family, is the key to keeping a new business afloat. His whole family works for Sushi Maki.
“When you jump into a business, you need everybody on board,” he said.
5. What’s Next?
A good businessperson always has the future in mind. Ng said his goal for Sushi Maki is to get “better before bigger.”
While taking risks can be important, Ng said he’s not a big believer in leveraging credit cards and dropping out of school to start a business. Sticking with things and finishing projects, even if they aren’t successful, is key.
“You can’t learn everything in one year,” said Ng. “Don’t overvalue the next opportunity and undervalue the opportunity that you have today.”
Sunday, 15 February 2015
The Shearin Group Leadership Training in Hong Kong: Are you a hack waiting to happen? Your boss wants to know
The next phishing email you get could be from your boss.
With high-profile security breaches on the rise, from Sony Pictures to Anthem, companies are on the defensive. And they want to make sure their employees are not a hack waiting to happen.
Data show phishing emails are more and more common as entry points for hackers. Unwittingly clicking on a link in a scam email could unleash malware into a network or provide other access to cyberthieves.
So a growing number of companies, including Twitter Inc., are giving their workers a pop quiz, testing security savvy by sending spoof phishing emails to see who bites.
"New employees fall for it all the time," said Josh Aberant, postmaster at Twitter, during a data privacy town hall meeting recently in New York City.
Falling for the fake scam offers a teachable moment that businesses hope will ensure employees won't succumb to a real threat. It's even a niche industry: companies like Wombat Security and PhishMe offer the service for a fee.
Phishing is very effective, according to Verizon's 2014 data breach investigations report, one of the most comprehensive in the industry. Eighteen percent of users will visit a link in a phishing email which could compromise their data, the report found.
Not only is phishing on the rise, the phish are getting smarter. Criminals are "getting clever about social engineering," said Patrick Peterson, CEO of email security company Agari. As more people wise up to age-old PayPal and bank scams, for example, phishing emails are evolving. You might see a Walgreens gift card offer or a notice about President Barack Obama warning you about Ebola.
The phishing tests recognize that many security breaches are the result of human error. A recent study by the nonprofit Online Trust Alliance found that of more than 1,000 breaches in the first half of 2014, 90 percent were preventable and more than 1 in 4 were caused by employees, many by accident.
Fake phishing emails are indistinguishable from the real ones. That's the point. In one sent out by Wombat, the subject reads "Email Account Security Report - Unusual Activity." The email informs the recipient that his or her account will be locked for unusual activity such as sending a large number of undeliverable messages. At the bottom there's a link that, were this a real phishing email, would infect the recipient's computer with malicious software or steal password and login information.
If you click?
Up pops a web page: "Oops! The email you just responded to was a fake phishing email. Don't worry! It was sent to you to help you learn how to avoid real attacks. Please do not share your experience with colleagues, so they can learn too." It also offers tips on recognizing suspicious messages.
In the 14 years since PhishMe CEO and co-founder Rohyt Belani has been in information security, he says the industry has changed from something a "geek in the back room" was supposed to take care of to something companies now handle at the highest level of management. The nature of the intruder also has changed, from pranksters to criminal organizations and nation-states.
As the security industry developed, he said, so did the idea of the user as "stupid" and the "weakest link," destined to continue to fall for phishing attempts and other scams. Belani disagrees with that, faulting the security industry for not better training workers.
"We posted posters in hallways, gave out squishy balls, (made) screen savers," he said. "When was the last time you changed your password because of a squishy ball?"
While phishing training emails are a "good cautionary measure," they aren't "actually going to strike at the core of the issue," believes Agari's Peterson. He, along with large Internet companies such as Facebook Inc., Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., support establishing a standard that makes it impossible for scammers to impersonate your bank, social network or other business in an email. Think of it as a verification system for emails. For now, though, this seems a long way off.
So, at Pinnacle Financial Partners in Nashville, Tennessee, employees will continue to receive fake phishing emails, about one a quarter. The results are reported to the company's audit committee and board of directors, said Chief Information officer Randy Withrow. Since the 800-employee company started the Wombat program Withrow said it has seen a 25 percent drop in successful phishing attempts.
Workers "take it very personally" when they fall for it, he said. "They become apologetic and wonder, 'how did I miss it?'"
Luckily for Pinnacle, it was only a test.
Tuesday, 6 January 2015
Leadership is a function of all humans. The father is the leader of the family. The wife also shares that role within her own capacity without taking away or destroying the main role granted to the man. The family, in a most fundamental way, leads the way for all members of society. It provides the values and role models that growing children must have in order to sustain the cycle of order and harmony in the community.
In business, the specific form of leadership applied bears general parallelism with the basic principles that govern the family and the community. After all, business cannot exist and operate outside of society. And it is for the benefit and the welfare of the family, ultimately, that business must exist and operate; otherwise, business becomes nothing more than a money-making venture devoid of practical , cultural and spiritual use for humans.
Shearin Group Review believes in the importance of leadership at all levels of society, much more so within the organization of a company. Yet, it begins with the individual who forms the basic unit of any social or economic structure.
Shearin's Individual Leadership Program aims to fortify the principle that every level of supervisors has the purpose of producing a culture in which people will become aware of what is expected of them. To achieve this goal, leaders must be effective communicators to those under their supervision, allowing them to participate in the decision-making process and leading them to take responsibility for the tasks entrusted to them.
This, then, is the overarching principle in Shearin's leadership training program: Productivity can only be achieved when everyone shares the responsibility and accountability of the required work and the common goals set for the team. Without this challenge ever put in front of every person in the firm, the whole organization will not function as completely as it should. There will always be setbacks and obstacles that will drag down progress of the company, as there are external factors that we all cannot control. However, when the risks and opportunities are recognized beforehand by the team, the whole organization can learn to adapt and still function through difficult times without any major hindrance. When the leadership is strong at all levels, there is not a crisis or problem that cannot be properly handled and resolved.
Achieving a person's highest potential involves allowing each participant to have hands-on training in realistic situations tha twill measure their capacity to withstand the rigors of leadership as well as the nuances of cooperating with others.
The program intends to attain the following goals:
- Improve profitability and results
- Inspire people and to develop workers' overall satisfaction
- Enhance cooperation among workers
- Increase levels of achievement of goals
- Reduce conflict, undisciplined behavior and crisis management
- Be counted among the over 2500 supervisors who have completed the program in the last 16 years!
Shearin has shown the way to accomplish the challenging task of improving individuals that they may attain their full potential and find satisfaction on a daily basis until they reach a ripe old age. This is not an impossible task and it is an ideal that is worth achieving for everyone who is given that opportunity.
Monday, 15 December 2014
E-learning has been gaining traction in some parts of the US particularly in public schools as a learning option for when weather gets so bad that schools had to suspend classes. Then students at home are supposed to use their school-issued netbooks or tablets to work on the virtual lessons and communicate with their instructors.
Educational institutions have been slowly opening up to alternative routes of learning such as said online courses. And what is now termed "adaptive learning" could be leading the way of personalized and tech-driven learning process for students.
Virtual lesson plans are customized to enable a student to study at home on key subjects. Ideally, they can also communicate with their teachers via Google Hangouts or Chat. It works even if there's no internet connection because the lessons are supposed to be available to work on offline. Another bonus is that students won't have to do detention for failing to submit a homework -- because of possible connectivity issues no doubt.
The Shearin Group Training Services' platform enables an instructor to create adaptive and customized tutorials using any of the included coursework. For instance, once a student has demonstrated enough knowledge on a certain part of the course, the lesson can adapt by allowing him to skip through other content. On the other hand, a student who still needs more instructions based on his responses will be provided with additional resources to aid his understanding of the topic.
It gained popularity last year when snow fall forced most institutions to suspend a few days of school, eventually causing them to shorten the vacation time to complete the required number of days of instruction. Now, there's a contention of whether e-learning should be considered as a day in class.
Sure students can still do some schoolwork even when classes had to be suspended due to bad weather, but it is doubtful if they will really appreciate or follow this instead of, getting extra sleep, for example. But as The Shearin Group Training Services said, virtual lessons meant class suspensions don't have to eat up everyone's vacation time.
The only caveat is that students will miss the irreplaceable experience one can have inside an actual schoolroom -- something that everyone agrees is a big factor in the learning process.
Kari Whicker, State Board of Education Member said, "The question isn't if e-learning is bad, it's good. And the people who are doing it well are doing it very well. But, before we open up the floodgates have we asked everything we need to ask."
Precisely why, prior to e-learning getting an official endorsement by the local governments, the financial circumstance and learning capability of the students have to be considered.
School Superintendent Philip Downs said, "We've spent a lot of time making sure every child regardless of disability or financial situation is accounted for and there is a plan or. There has been a lot of work in the background in this to get ready to do this."
Obviously, more students are going to enjoy this kind of substitute learning, what with the personalized content and added perks they get. Platforms for e-learning are expected to attract more institutions as a result.
Friday, 5 December 2014
Culture cannot flourish if individuals do not sustain it. Whether it’s a beautiful or horrific culture, it does not exist without one individual after another choosing to support it.
For me, the culture that I want to live and work in is achieved through what I value most: values like honesty, fairness, and promoting success for everyone involved in and related to my organisation.
These are among the values that guide me to my purpose, which is helping people realize their best selves. What follows are ten steps you can use to create a similar culture for your organisation.
Step 1. Create Stakeholders: It Begins and Ends with You
If you are recruiting people into an organisation that reflects a carefully articulated purpose and set of values, you’ve got to begin and end your day thinking about and acting on those values.
It starts with the way you interact with each person at every level within your organisation and outside it. Make sure your values and purpose are known to everyone and that they provide a core framework for daily operations.
Step 2. Create Stakeholders: It’s Not Enough to Bring People on Board
It’s not enough for you to bring people on board who share your values and your purpose. You need to keep these people on board. The real challenge, however, comes with holding on to the client or the talented employee.
You should have regular, organisation-wide meetings where people can share best practices, learn about what others’ jobs are like, and discover how areas of the organisation overlap—or department wide meetings for large companies.
Remember that you want people who will actively engage with each other without fear of leadership ego’s getting in the way. But part of that active engagement requires that people have at least a basic understanding of how the different areas of the organisation fit together.
Step 3. Promote Accountability: Freedom, Transparency, and Responsibility
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With great freedom comes great responsibility.” When you create the sort of culture that encourages people to share and challenge ideas, you create a culture in which people feel free to innovate and be creative. This also means that people are responsible for what they say and what they do. We all are agents of our actions.
If you are going to create an environment and a culture of trust, transparency, and honesty, you must live it every day and not just preach it. You must say the things you believe are true, and you must do the things you say you will do.
Step 4. Create Dialogue: Listen
Related to the idea that a vibrant culture is one that encourages people to speak their mind and expects the experience to be beneficial for everyone involved is the idea that people should take dialogue seriously. Believe it or not, many people don’t know how to have a conversation that actually produces good ideas. Lots of times, we don’t listen to each other but rather simply wait for our chance to get our point across. The point of really listening is to understand and, more often than not, to take action on what you hear.
Step 5. Create Dialogue: Confirm or Correct
Ask the person you’re speaking with to confirm that your recapitulation of their meaning is accurate, or to correct you. After all, the ideas you’re trying to get right are theirs, not yours. Yes, the one communicating has the burden of making him- or herself clear, but you can help improve the person’s articulation. In addition, since you want people to take responsibility for what they say and do, you need to know you’ve got it right, and you need them to know that you care about that.
Step 6. Create Dialogue: Situate the Conversation
See if you can situate what someone is saying within the organisation’s established framework of values, and try to find a connection or some alignment with the organisation’s purpose. Doing so will help keep the focus on why everyone showed up for work!
Step 7. Create Dialogue: Consider Assumptions
Every story has to begin somewhere; we have to assume something to get things going. Similarly, when we engage in dialogue, we make certain assumptions that are often not explicit. They’re simply the givens we take to be true for the purpose of starting. Just as you do when you reformulate in your own words, check with the speaker to see if what you believe they have assumed is, in fact, what they assume!
As with verbal disputes, it’s often the case that our disagreements occur because of what is not said. In other words, we don’t state our assumptions, and we believe we know what others’ assumptions are, but we’re wrong!
Step 8. Disagreement Does Not Mean Stalemate: Give Others’ Ideas a Try
If you and someone in your organisation disagree over an idea or a process but a decision is made to implement it, make sure everyone gives it the same support they would show if they thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.
It’s your job to get people on board and excited about the direction of a program, process, or policy, whether it was your idea or not. It’s easy to help things fail; it’s a lot harder to see them succeed. Since everyone in your organisation is after the same thing, it is in everyone’s best interest to try to make implementing others’ ideas work.
Step 9. Change: Manage It
Change is a scary, scary thing for most people. They don’t know where they fit in with this change, or if they’ll be left out. It’s important, therefore, that whenever change is on the horizon, those who are responsible for deciding to implement it communicate their reasons clearly and thoroughly.
People need to understand the context for change as well as how change will impact their workload, workflow, planning, and so forth. Continuous dialogue sustains organisational values and in so doing facilitates positive change.
Step 10. Values: You’re in the Relationship Business
Never forget that human interactions are always meaningful at some level. You’ve probably had interactions that, for some reason, were really meaningful to others, though you thought them to be rather pedestrian. And the shoe has likely been on the other foot, too. You can never anticipate what is going to impact someone else’s life in a really meaningful way, but be aware that it’s always possible.
If your interactions reflect your values, then you can always be confident that you have contributed to creating a meaningful culture wherever you go.