I am seeing several disturbing trends in the Millennial Generation workforce. If the Millennials don’t get their heads on straight in this economy, they’ll be living with mommy and daddy for a very long time. Here are a few words of sage advice, which will probably just get Millennials angry. But they should be listened to. 1. It takes more than a few applications to get a job. Recent statistics (supplied courtesy of Entry Level Rebel) show 55% of recent college grads apply to less than five jobs before giving up and moving in with mom and dad (or staying there). My highly experienced clients can apply for 50 jobs or more before landing. Persistence counts. So does patience. 2. Your social life has to take a back seat. One thing I’ve seen with many Millennials is a constant party, with drinking most nights, regardless of which night of the week it might be. Partying is for the times you have a day off the next day and can recover. If you are looking for a job or have a job, all of your brain cells need to be present with you. This is not going to happen after a night of partying. 3. There are jobs out there. They may not be great jobs. But, even if a job pays minimum wage, it is an addition to your resume. Given the unfair and extreme prejudice against the unemployed, it is better to be working than not. Even if the job is flipping burgers, your resume shows, unlike many of your generation, you had the work ethic to do something. Someone flipping burgers will get a decent job long before someone who is sitting at mommy and daddy’s playing video games or “chilling.” 4. When you get a job, do it. I could name, right off the top of my head, two dozen or more cases of Millennial incompetence due to simply not paying attention. Pay attention when you’re at work! Be there and give more than you’re asked. There are ten or more people waiting to take that “lousy” job. Keep yours. 5. Stop arguing. A Millennial was waiting on us a little while ago in an upper-range restaurant. He ignored us. I finally flagged him down, and indicated that he really wasn’t paying much attention to us. He argued and said he was, where the proper response would have been, “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll make sure you get taken care of from now on.” This got him a complaint to the manager and $2 tip on a $60 lunch tab. But I’ve seen a tendency in Millennials to defend everything they do. Rather than a customer service attitude, there seems to be an attitude of “I can do no wrong.” This is not an isolated incident. I’ve seen this take place many times when a Millennial is performing a service for a customer. If criticized, don’t argue or justify yourself. Apologize at once and fix the problem! (And never argue with the boss. You’ll lose.) 6. Stop negotiating! Another Millennial trait I often see is constant negotiation about everything. Listen — in the work world you are not in control. You haven’t paid your dues or earned the right to have any control yet. Our lousy schools and coddling parents have given our younger workers the idea that everything can be negotiated into a better deal. Nope. With today’s economy, most things are “take it or leave it, buddy.” You might well negotiate yourself right out of a job. 7. Listen to your customer. We had an order-taker at Arby’s who just couldn’t get it out of her head, though we repeated it several times, that she had taken our order wrong. After repeating it three times, she simply walked away and we had to repeat our whole order to another (and older) employee. This should not have happened. Listen to what your customer is saying rather than the spooky voices in your head! I don’t blame the Millennials for being this way. Our school systems and their parents gave these folks an extreme entitlement attitude and few social skills. But if Millennials ever hope to move from their parents’ homes before they’re 50, they will start to change their attitudes about work and life immediately. Please feel free to invite me on LinkedIn. I accept all invitations from individuals. Also, please join my LinkedIn Group “Getting Employed” for great employment discussions. John Heckers has over 30 years of successfully helping people with their careers. He has consulted to executives from Fortune 500 companies, five-person companies, and everything in-between. Photo credit: Shutterstock
As an education consultant observing instruction across content areas, grade bands, and schools, I have seen A LOT of instruction, both good and bad. While most teachers teach from a place of caring and compassion, the simple mistakes that I see teachers repeatedly making are undermining the overall impact that they could be having on learning especially when one considers the cumulative effect of poor teaching practices, across multiple teachers, on any one student.
Don’t get tangled up in this trap. Start upping your teaching game by canceling the following five teaching practices:
Using The Standard As The Lesson Objective
I sometimes see teachers using specific Common Core State Standards as the learning objective for an entire unit of study. For example, I once saw a fourth-grade teacher use “Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meaning (CCSS ELA-LITERACY L.4.5)" as the learning objective across many days of learning. This is an academically rigorous standard to be sure. However, as there are many types of figurative language, how does the teacher know they are meeting the precise intent of this standard unless they break down this standard into its component parts? Could each part then be a lesson/daily objective?
To answer, I suggest teachers draw upon the work of Larry Ainsworth in unwrapping standards. In a nutshell, Ainsworth’s model for deconstructing standards has educators identifying each concept (nouns) and skill (verbs) embedded within each standard to ensure that the complete intent of the standard is understood. More about the model can be found here.
Dumbing Down Objectives
My blood boiled over one day when a teacher told me that his students could not possibly meet learning objectives and/or success criteria that asked students to synthesize, evaluate, and/or create since his students were lower functioning. I have no doubt that this teacher was correct in saying that some of his students would, indeed, struggle in meeting higher-level success criteria. However, what then was this teacher doing to scaffold the learning so his lower-functioning students could succeed in meeting such objectives? First, develop lesson objectives with high achievement in mind so that high-performing students are not held back by low-performing students. Then, consider the scaffolds—such as one-on-one and small group direct instruction—that will be provided to lower-achieving students so they, too, can achieve rigorous objectives.
In developing rigorous learning objectives, those that place the cognitive lift on students, I recommend teachers use two tools—a Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Wheel and Hess’ Cognitive Rigor Matrix. The DOK Wheel will help educators to craft learning objectives inclusive of increasing levels of student challenge from a DOK Level One (Student Recall) through to a DOK Level Four (Extended Student Thinking). The Matrix will help teachers to compare their learning objectives, as currently written, to examples of those at varying levels of cognitive complexity so that these objectives may be rewritten to reflect higher levels of cognitive complexity. The Matrix is available for both humanities and math/science content areas.
Bonus Hack for Writing Objectives: When teachers write the learning objective into their guided practice slide decks, it is often only on the front slide. How can students refer to it/follow along if they can’t see it? Instead, include the objective on all slides or, better yet, write it on the class board.
Less is more. If a teacher’s guided practice drones on and on, as their coach, I sometimes ask if the teacher can call on a student to repeat and/or summarize what was said. Sometimes the student can but, other times, as the student begins to explain, they become confused. This is precisely why I ask this of teachers. If students are to retain information, research shows that there need to be breaks in long lectures. Chunk the learning. Allow a quick turn and talk so students can process learning before proceeding to ask students to repeat and/or summarize information.
On a related note, teachers should stop asking “Any questions?” as a matter of pro forma politeness before speeding along on the bullet train that is their lecture. Most students will not admit that they do not understand something unless it is teased from them. Instead, cold call and use other strategies such as polling, individual whiteboards, and signaling cards. And, when teachers do stop talking to ask questions of students, they can ensure that those questions are cognitively rigorous using this question stem tool.
Telling Students To Take Notes Instead Of Showing Them How
If I had a quarter for each time I heard “take notes.” What does this mean? One of the practices in which I engage when observing classes is to look over at what students are doing and the notes they are taking; the level of detail and amount of relevant information can vary widely. Instead, a good practice is to adopt a standard note-taking format like Cornell Notes. In adopting a standard format, teachers can scaffold notes, build in essential questions, and have students summarize their learning—all best practices discussed in this article. Further, students can assess the quality of not only their notes but that of peers and use these notes in the development of student-generated study guides.
One scaffolding technique that I suggest teachers use with Cornell Notes is to include unit-related vocabulary with which students may be struggling and/or may not yet have been exposed. Often, when students leave questions blank on assessments, it can be because students do not understand what is being asked of them because of the vocabulary being used. In addition to highlighting key vocabulary on Cornell Notes, consider expanding a student’s knowledge of related vocabulary through the use of varied Vocabulary CODE activities as well as tiered vocabulary in each content area.
Taking Class Time To Have Students Complete Worksheets
A standard practice that I have seen, when teachers are afraid to release control, is for students to complete worksheets independently and silently in class. First, teachers should consider if work needs to be done in class or, after modeling one or two examples of what students are to do, the rest of the worksheet can be done at home so that class time can be used for discussion of the work. Learning together builds creativity, blends individual strengths, and enhances the sense of collective ownership.
However, teachers are wise in anticipating where learning can go wrong, and there can be many reasons why students may not be focused during student-to-student-based activities. Still, the solution for most attention problems resides with the teacher. If students are unfocused and discussing unrelated matters during group work, give them the questions to discuss up front. If students can’t engage in discussions with one another appropriately, give them discussion/accountable talking stems. If some students are doing all the work while their teammates stand about idly, assign individual roles within each group as well as have students self-assess their level of contribution as well as peer assess that of their teammates. Also, provide exemplars of quality work and allow students some choice in how they demonstrate proficiency (the product) beyond that of a worksheet. There are also varied discussion protocols that can be used to differentiate the process through which students talk collaboratively about the content.
Word To The Wise
These are, without a doubt, some of the most common mistakes that I have seen educators make regardless of the amount of time that they have been in the profession. I, myself, was not immune from making these same missteps in the classroom. Still, being forewarned is forearmed and hopefully an awareness of these common pratfalls, along with a knowledge of the tools that can be used to navigate around them, will help ensure that not a moment of class time is wasted to inefficiency.
Please feel free to reach out to the author at John Schembari, Ed.D. | LinkedIn.
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