Facebook threw me an emotional throwback photo of my kids 4 years ago. The picture had both my kids in my classroom on a Saturday playing around on computers while I got some work done (yes I do work on weekends often!) I stopped and thought about what they were doing then on technology and what they are creating now. Then, they were looking up any games they could. My daughter was 5 and my son was 8. I remember watching them get on mindless games and letting them play around while I went about my afternoon working. I also remember logging them into a Roller Coaster tycoon game and a management simulation I use in my high school courses. That Saturday afternoon, I had a conversation with my two young kids about what I saw in the classroom that made my students either succeed or fail. I chatted with them about mindless games and how people were making money off users by splashing the screen with advertisements and links to outside websites. I was real with what was behind the games on computers and smartphones.
Did they listen on the edge of their seats to me?
No. They did get the message though. Having these conversations with your kids when they are young will keep it fresh in their minds that technology can be a tool that they can use or a tool that can use them to make money for others.
I am happy to say that four years after that picture was taken, I asked my kids if they remembered it. The specifics were blurry to them as they remember the room and the school but not really the things they were doing on the computer.
So how do I know my conversations with them work?
Today, my son is almost 13 and he has a car detailing business. He has taught himself how to set up a website and some social media to connect with potential customers. My daughter is almost 10 and she has been working on figuring out how to make an iMovie and put it on her YouTube channel. She wants to capture people's attention and entertain them with her stories she makes up with some toys. For both of them, it has not been an easy road. My son struggles to understand why people don’t just go to his website and find the answers he is asked of his customers. My daughter worked for days on a film only to learn it was too big to upload from her iPad. There has been frustration and tears in their processes. There have been failures. A lot of them. And it is my job to see that they learn from them. They are figuring it out. By working on these projects with technology together, my kids an I are understanding that technology is not to be feared. It is something to make things happen for the better. It is something they can use as a tool. They understand that they can also get used by other people’s technology.
If you have children, don’t let your kids get used by technology by not engaging in conversation and working with them on it. Talk with them about what they like on their phones and computers. Have them teach you a few things. Learn from them. Find more things online they would be interested in and start projects with them on technology. Use is as a tool to bring you closer to your kids. It works for me and it can work for you.
Just another way to #disrupteducation
Next week my son turns 13. Yes, I feel old. He will be going into high school in the next year and a half. As a high school teacher, I look at the way I am going to respond to the traditional paths that will be thrust upon his schedule. I know the way counselors push kids into academic courses first then into electives second. That is not going to be the way it will be done for my son and daughter.
I’m going to have them pick the electives first, then fill in the rest with academic courses.
Here’s why. Think about when you were back in high school. So many people I talk to remember the cool projects in art, music, business, foods, and drama classes over the mundane academic courses that don’t always teach authentic topics. I have yet to hear the more than a few people say “I really loved that Calculus course” or “There was something so invigorating in the AP chemistry class.”
Traditional education is good to a point. There comes a time in one’s young life for the need to really dive into different ideas and concepts. Many times I ask my students why they think high school is so boring. Overwhelmingly I hear the same complaint.
“We do the same thing over and over for four years.”
Let that statement sink in. It is so true. This year you are going to learn math, science, history, english, and math. Next year you are going to learn more science, history, english, and math. And by the way, the year after that you are going to learn science, history, english, and math. Oh and another thing, if you are bad at any of those classes, we are going to give you more of it. That sounds GREAT to me! (said with a load of sarcasm)
Why don’t we change the narrative to read something like this… Your first year of high school, you are going to hit the basics of science, history, english, and math. The second year you are going to get some science, history, english, and math. Four your third and fourth year, you are going to dive into electives of your choice like music, art, business, foods, childcare, nursing, (enter any profession here) and we will attach some science, history, math and science to your learning in those areas. In other words, your last two years of high school will be made up of applying your knowledge and skills in learning communities.
My son is having him hit the academics the first couple of years then heavy on the electives for his final two years.
I want him to come out of high school with authentic skills and a professional network rather than AP scores and GPAs.
Another way to #disrtupteducation
I just read a post of a parent from my school who is asking other parents to ask their kids not to share their SAT / ACT scores. The reason was that this parent’s child was feeling bad about their own score because it was low. C’mon. Stop this madness please.
There are so many lessons this parent could teach their child rather than asking the world not to be brag. Here are a few lessons you can teach your kid should they not do well on their silly standardized test.
1. Stop giving a shit about what others think of you. People are going to try to be better than you all the time. The minute you stop giving a shit about what others have or score, the better off you will be. You can start focusing on what you are good at.
2. Standardized test scores are really worthless. There are thousands of colleges and universities that hardly look at them anymore. It is mostly a money maker for big companies to have you pay to take them and pay to study for them.
3. One score does not define you. My SAT score was 790 out of 1600. That’s right. 790. I lived.
I went to college. I got a great job. I have a beautiful home. I have earned, passive, and investment income coming in. So that 790 does not define me. As a matter of fact, I remember not giving a shit about the test and was more focused on a baseball game I had that Saturday afternoon.
As I was driving my producer home today, I saw one of these “math extra study” places full of kids around the ages of 7, 8 and 9. It was 4 o'clock in the afternoon on a beautiful day and these poor kids were sitting in this place. I know why they were in there. Their parents want them to score higher on their math tests. Let that sink in.
Go teach your kid how to start a business, care for others, work on a team, or work on something with their hands. Don’t be the parents that gives a shit about what other kids say about your kids test scores. That will just teach them to be insecure. Find the lesson here and pass it on.
A cautionary note to parents about shrugging off Financial Literacy and Investment courses in high school.
What is education for? Why do we do it? What is the end goal? I’m not sure parents know these days. I am a business department chair at a high school in the suburbs of Chicago. I have taught for over 15 years in the field… and I have also been an entrepreneur, a account executive, a bartender, etc. My goal for education was to make a difference while getting paid. The end goal was to understand how to make money and live life to its fullest.
Social media these days are spilling the bad parts of education. Heck, my own blog is critical of the system. I get it. What I don’t get is when something is in place that works, it is shrugged off by traditional parents. Let me get to the point. We teach financial literacy at our high school. We also teach investments as an elective. Because it is a state graduation requirement here in Illinois, people think it is a fluff course and try to “get it out of the way”. Many parents at my school choose to place Freshman in financial literacy in summer school so they can get the “real classes” in to get into a better college or university. This is where a huge problem occurs.
That problem is that you are not making Financial Literacy an important choice in your son or daughters education. You are putting AP courses over reality. Social media people spew quotes like the following on a daily basis saying we as high school’s don’t actually teach people how to invest and manage money correctly:
“Yet our schools don't teach students the 2 incomes that made Bill Gates a billionaire.. Instead schools program students to think the only path to success is to get indebted obtaining a college degree & to make a lot of income from "Earned Income" working a job.. After reading this, I challenge anyone to defend the school system in the comments.. Teaching just 1 income option out of 3 is not a fair & balanced system.. That's like a car salesman showing you a Mazda, but never showing you the Maserati, Lamborghini or Ferrari.. From Kindergarten through High School teachers just train students on how to drive that beat up "Mazda" until they turn 65 years old... Teachers don't train students on how to drive the "Ferrari", "Maserati" or "Lamborghini" (The other 2 income options)... Students deserve "Full Disclosure" of all 3 income options.. Billionaires earn their income from the 2 incomes that schools don't teach you.. Warren Buffett earns 1.5 Million PER DAY from Coca Cola Dividend Income, yet schools don't teach you how to earn Stock Dividend Income... Look at the billionaires on the Forbes 400 List.. All 400 of them earn their income from the 2 incomes that schools never teach you.. To learn more on how schools indoctrinate & program students please read the Best Selling book "Cashflow Quadrant" by Robert Kiyosaki.” @wisdomtogrow on Instagram
Actually the above is false. We DO have courses that do teach 3 income options. We actually DO recommend the books and do projects that train students to “drive the Maserati” as stated above. Parents just don’t see the value in it. There are two reasons I know this.
So what needs to happen here? Well, @wisdomtogrow is telling you all that this stuff is important. Very important. And he is right. All schools in Illinois and many other states mandate a graduation requirement in some sort of Financial Literacy. Parents, STOP AVOIDING THIS CLASS! How do you expect your kids to understand the financial system when you are not pushing for more of these types of classes! The system is flawed. YOU CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE. DEMAND that all students take a financial literacy course. DEMAND that your kids have to take an investment course. Because if you don’t demand this, the college and university debt pipeline will continue and the lemmings it draws in will continue to grow debt and fall further and further away from success. The first step is to stop complaining that schools don’t teach this stuff… WE DO… YOU are not choosing to learn about it in a serious manner.
Should your school not teach these 3 types of income (Passive, Earned, Portfolio) in courses, show your voard memebers our website at http://www.oprfschoolofbusiness.com/classes.html Let your school board know these classes are VERY important to the success of your children and DEMAND them in your schools because I will tell you that AP courses don’t pay the bills.
Just one more way to #disrupteducation
Today our area is getting hit with over a foot of snow. The schools are closed. I imagine that many of my students will sleep in and stare at their phones or watch youtube all day. I know this because my son would do that if I let him. Here are some alternatives for you to consider on a snow day.
1. Get some exercise.
Grab that shovel and start shoveling. When you get the blood flowing, you feel better. Especially for a young person, it is important to get outside and sweat a little. My son and I went out this morning in the middle of the storm and shoveled together. We have a neighbor who is very old and can’t do it. We shovel for her. It is a nice gesture and my son learns that caring for others in need is an important thing.
2. Build your professional profile.
Last week in my high school’s management class, I had my students list out what they were good at. Many of them actually had no idea what to put down. School teaches you what you are bad at. A snow day will allow you to talk to your family and friends about what they think you are actually good at! You can assess your skill sets and build your online portfolio. Create a website or blog about what you are all about. Create a LinkedIn or a Yolobe profile. This will allow you to reflect on what it is that you are actually good at and skills that you may need to work on. In other words, work on your WHY.
3. Read. Yes Read.
Grab a book that will motivate you. Read business books. You can grab these online so no worries about traveling in the bad weather! Grab a cup of coffee, hot tea, or cocoa and jump in. Take notes. Soak in the information. There are great reads out there.
4. Check out high profile Entrepreneurs online and listen to them!
People like Gary Vaynerchuck, Simon Sinek, Lindsey Sterling, Elon Musk and many more. Take in their stories and definately take note! Be inspired by them to do something good. Make something happen.
5. Start taking that idea to action!
We all have ideas of things we could do. We stop because of a flood of excuses. Well...you now have time to make a move on it. Try to figure out ways you can get that idea going and as NIke said it… just do it! Create. You have technology in front of you. Get focused and get started!
A snow day is actually the best day to really educate yourself. We don’t like going to school because we are boxed in and usually told what we need to learn and do. Take the snow day as a day to do the things you really want to do. LEarn your craft. Make moves. Disrupt Education!
The other evening, I walked up to my 12 year old son’s room to check to see how he was doing. He had some Algebra that was giving him some trouble. As I walked up to his room, I could tell he was mad. I sat down next to him and tried to figure out the source of his anger.
After a few probing questions, my son broke down in tears. He told me he has no idea why he has to learn things in school. He was mad because the homework was hard. He wanted to be working on something he was interested in. He said he wanted more time to work on his auto detail business. (He started an automotive detail business out of our garage last summer and makes pretty good money doing it!) He was complaining that his homework took up all his time and he can’t work on his business.
I listened until he stopped talking about how school was interfering in his authentic life. I can’t blame him. I feel the same way as a teacher. I am sure I have spoken some of the exact same words as my son at our family dinner table conversations. But there was something my son was missing. Self-awareness.
He was about to get a huge dose of it.
I asked if he was done with his complaints. He said yes. I then looked at him straight in the eye and I told him some hard facts. I saw his face of anger change into a face of eagerness to learn. I let him know that he will likely use Algebra and to stop complaining about it. Then I really threw some knowledge at him. I asked him one more time about why he wasn’t working on his business? I was setting him up. He told me once again he had no time. I cut him off by sternly saying, “BULLSHIT.” He was taken aback. He was eager to hear more. I proceeded to go over his day minute by minute after he returned from school.
“When you get home from school, you sit in front of the TV for at least 45 minutes. You go upstairs and work a little bit on your homework, then you pound on your computer game for another 60 minutes or so. We have dinner, then you head up to start really working on your homework. You finish about 30 minutes before your bedtime. So.. BULLSHIT. You have time."
"You have to want it bad. You don’t want it bad enough.”
He sat there thinking. He knew I was right. I asked him if he knew why I didn’t see him every morning before school. He didn’t know. I told him I want some family time in the evening to have dinner with my family. The only way I was going to get that was to get up at 5am and head to school early to get my work done. Not just my teaching responsibilities, but my blog and Disrupt Education movement.
I finished the conversation by letting him know the only way I was able to figure out my timeframes for daily activities was to have self-awareness. I needed to see what the heck I did with my time before I could make changes. I needed to realize where I was wasting my time. No one is going to make the changes for you. You will have to do it. When it comes to moving on your idea… the excuses are going to flow. You just have to figure out that you want it more than the alternative. Excuses weed out the few that want it really bad. I see it every day in the classroom. The earlier you learn self-awareness and how to ward off excuses, the better chance of success you will have.
You should really experience your career choice before you pony up large cash to be educated in it. Let’s face it, we are asking 16, 17 and 18 year olds to make $100,000 business decisions when they have no business doing so.
Here is what I suggest you do before you pony up large debt for an education.
1. Understand what your objective is in your next level of learning.
The undeclared major is a total waste of money. It’s like buying a car and never driving it as it loses value sitting in the garage. I always get students who go off to college without really knowing what they want to do. I get the “I want to do business.” I will follow up that question with what part of business do you like? They have no idea. If you don’t know what it is exactly you want to learn about, don’t jump into college. You can’t start a project and be successful without defining the objective first. Why would you start your next level of learning by paying a place to figure out what you want to do? Go experience life a little and see what you like to do. See where your skills really come into play. Don’t simply rely on some high school computer program that grabs your personality and places you into an outdated career path that most likely will be obsolete in 5 years.
2. When you find out what you want to do…work in that industry or profession before you go to school for it.
I personally made this mistake. I wanted to do TV/Radio after my freshman year of college. I thought it would be cool to be on radio. I got a taste of spinning records (yes I’m that old!) on the local college station and thought I would be great at it. I declared a major and ran with it. I liked a lot of the classes, however, when I got into my Internship at a local radio station, it sucked. There was so much more to it than showing up and talking with listeners. And then I looked at the pay. It was terrible. By this time, I was a Senior in college and about to graduate. Here’s what I should have done before I even went to college. I should have volunteered time to take out the trash and bring people coffee at a local radio station. I should have interviewed as many people in the radio industry as I could to gain industry knowledge. If it were today, I would have tried my hand at podcasting to see if I could build an audience and live the part of an on air personality for little or no money.
3. Get an actual job… and a crappy one at that.
I had the privilege of having my college education covered. That came as a blessing and as a curse. Before you jump on me for saying it was a curse… hear me out. It’s obvious that I am one of the few lucky ones in this nation that didn’t have to incur part of the $1 trillion plus in college debt that is out there. I know. The curse is that I didn’t realize how much of a gift it was when I was given it. I took college for granted and didn’t really look at it as something that I could really use to make my life better. It’s the old adage, I really didn’t earn it so why would I care for it. One thing I did notice from my peers in college who were not as blessed as I was is that not only they were incurring debt, many of them had crappy jobs. Those friends who worked crappy jobs like being a dishwasher or working tough physical labor knew they didn’t want to stay in that position forever. The hard work with little pay drove them to succeed in college and in life. I even have a colleague at my school who teaches with two 50 pound bags of concrete up front to remind himself and students that this crappy job is an option if they don’t try.
4. Know all your options for higher education.
Times are changing fast. The educational landscape is being reshaped as I write this. Social Media has blown the door wide open for freelancers and entrepreneurs to show their stuff without degrees. I know of large companies that have hired 17 and 18 year olds who understand how to work Social Media marketing channels to bring in more customers. These teens are not getting small deals either. Newer educational opportunities are available too. Places like MissionU make it easier to go after authentic learning at a fraction of the cost of college. Major companies are partnering with these new types of higher education as well because… well … who really wants an unskilled, booksmart worker coming out of college without authentic work experience and a ton of debt!?
5. Realize that education is not a race. It is a journey.
Too often we force kids to jump from high school to college for no other reason other than to boost “school report cards” or because it is status quo. The fact is that your education is not a race. Your education is your own personal journey. Each of us as individuals should choose what is right for us. Take your time when you are looking for your opportunities. You are only against yourself.
Taking time to look into these five things will help you on your path of learning. I am not saying trash the whole college system. It works for some. For the 19% of college graduates who finish in four years or under and know exactly what they want to do, college works. For the rest, better take a deeper look into options and careers before buying that six figure education. Trust me, it will save you time and money in the long run.
I like to keep my radar in the education game by sending out resumes and applying to other schools. It’s a way for me to keep my options open and my finger on the pulse of the teaching profession in general. Over the past few years, I have realized there may be a factor in achievement gaps and poor student performance as a result of the way schools seek out and hire teachers. Simply put, the traditional teacher hiring process is far outdated.
Here are a few things I found to be outdated.
There is heavy reliance on the paper resume and cover letter.
The fact that many schools including the one I work in rely heavily on a resume stating things you have done in the past is not going to bring you great educators. In today’s world, no successful business cares about what you have done in the past. They care about what you are doing right now. They care about your personal brand. I do not know of one public school HR department that even knows what a personal brand is.
There is a mechanical approach to the public school hiring process.
Well over 80% of the applications I have recently filled out for school teaching and administration is on an automated system that looks like it’s out of the 1990s. These automatic tracking systems look for keywords and the initial cuts are due to lack of a few terms. Let that soak in a minute. If I miss a few key terms on a resume, I’m out. The school has no idea what potential hires are currently doing. They know nothing at all about them.
There is too much reliability on GPA and Test Scores.
Most of the best teachers I know had no where close to a 4.0 GPA. We can all admit that the public school system needs vast improvements across the board. I hear school boards and administrations preach about how they need progressive thinkers and motivated teachers to change the norms. The best teachers are those who didn’t go along with the status quo. The teacher who aced the tests and received perfect grades are not the ones who want to change the box. They thrived in traditional education. Progressive education is foreign to them.
My advice to public school systems that want to break out of the box and create better learning environments for their students is to look at hiring in different ways.
Think about this situation. Which one would you hire to teach your son or daughter?
I want the second person to teach my kids. I hope you would too.
It’s mind blowing how easy this is to choose between these two candidates yet school leaders want to sit back, stick to the old way of hiring and wish things were different for their struggling students.
I am in the profession of teaching because I realized high school sucked for me...and that showed with my GPA and tests scores. I didn’t like it because it lacked authenticity. I am in the game to change that. The hiring process weeds people like me out. The progressive thinkers are not looked at in most traditional educational systems.
It’s time to disrupt traditional school hiring processes.
It’s time to #disrupteducation
I wrote that quote on the board at a meeting this morning. Then I wrote, “Learn from your loss and adjust to get a win. Become a winner.” The meeting was a group of outstanding students working on our Huskie Community Network project. They needed to hear those quotes. They just experienced a loss.
The Huskie Community Network is a group of students building on the Yolobe platform to connect students in the high school to local opportunities. It is an intense project that involves two building blocks; the students and local opportunities. The group found out the hard way that it is not easy to build the community opportunities network. Last week, we had an open house for businesses and professionals to bring in their opportunities and learn how to input them on the Yolobe platform. Our students worked for weeks on contacting and inviting many businesses to attend. The night of the open house came and only 3 professionals showed up. Two of them were parents of one of our project team members.
Major fail. Major learning opportunity.
The time between that fail and today’s meeting was hard for the students. A few came to speak with me personally about the problems in the groups lack of effort. Blaming and finger pointing was happening. Many wanted to quit. I loved every minute of it. It challenged me as a leader and facilitator of this group to step up to the challenge. Before the loss happened, I spoke with the Founder of Yolobe. I felt like our project was not going get the high number of business owners at the upcoming function. He asked me a question that reminded me that communication is extremely important. He asked, “Do you think we prepared them to succeed?” There it was. The answer. It was no.
After the failed open house, we spoke about getting the team back up to perform. We talked about the positives of the meeting. We talked about how we thought the students felt. It was eye opening. The Founder of Yolobe was still looking at the positives. That taught me to look for the positives and build off them.
A few days before our first meeting after the failure, I did a lot of research. I came across 4 questions from the Harvard Business Review that worked perfectly for the meeting. The questions are:
Only seven members showed up this morning for the meeting. They are winners. We went through the questions in an honest and open format. The finger pointing stopped and the team really looked at what really went wrong. They went deep into some viable solutions to build the business and professional pieces for the project. It was a positive meeting that left people feeling optimistic in the next attempt at the project. We all learned from this. We all learned that it is essential to work through challenges when they occur. We learned that failure provides opportunity. They learned how to #disrupteducation.
Read more about the Huskie Community Network HERE
I recently read an article in Edvocate about the work schedule of a college president titled “What Does a College President Do All Day?”. The article articulated the daily routine and responsibilities of a typical college president. It is a great article written by Matthew Lynch. The same day this article was published (January 11, 2018), I was working on an Instagram story reviewing at my own daily routine as The OPRF School of Business department head and teacher at Oak Park and River Forest High School. (Watch My Story Here or scroll down) So I documented a day in my life as a teacher. Here’s what the schedule looked like…
5:00 AM Wake Up, Walk the Dog, Grab Coffee, Exercise, Shower, Make Breakfast Shake
6:00 AM Drive to school
6:25 AM Arrive at school, Read Emails, Check Days Schedule, Grade
6:40 AM Meeting with Local Business Owner
7:00 AM Meeting with Huskie Community Network Student Group
7:45 AM Stop at Office and Check Emails
8:00 AM Period 1, Teach Student Helpdesk Internship Course
8:50 AM Period 2, Student Meeting regarding Employment Opportunities, Grading
9:50 AM Period 3, Teach Computer Applications Honors Course
10:45 AM Period 4, Lunch in My Office, Grading, Meeting with Student on Curriculum Projects
11:35 AM Period 5, Teach Computer Applications Course
12:30PM Period 6, Teach Small Business Management Course
1:25 PM Period 7, Student Meeting on Networking Projects
1:45 PM Grading, Professional Reading
2:15 PM Period 8, Teach Computer Applications Course
3:05 PM Meet with Entrepreneur Student Group
4:05 PM Coffee Meeting with Tech Business Owner
5:00 PM Prepare Networking Community Meeting with Student Group
6:00 PM Host Huskie Community Network Project Program
8:00 PM Check Email, Set Next Day Up for Teaching
8:20 PM Travel Home, Listen to Podcasts
8:50 PM Home, Professional Reading and Writing
9:30 PM Disrupt Education Blogging, Social Media Updates, Networking Emails
11:00 PM End of Day
What does a driven high school teacher do on a daily basis? Drive students to do their best while facilitating their learning even before and after the school day begins and ends.