Interview: Teaching Trauma-Informed Practices with Bethlehem Area School District

At Pear Deck, a source of inspiration is seeing what innovative classroom teachers and school leaders are sharing on social media. This tweet from Bethlehem Area SD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jack Silva caught our collective eyes a few months ago:

Dr. Silva and Supervisor of Professional Learning and Technology Integration Mark James agreed to sit down with Pear Deck Marketing Director Danielle Stebel to discuss their efforts with building a learner- centered district environment and more.

Let’s start with some background. What led you both to choosing education as a career?

MJ “If I was to go back in time and tell my 17-year-old self I was a teacher, I wouldn’t have believed it. I received my Bachelor’s in Business from Miami University, and worked in the industrial railroad industry as an Account Executive before going to Culinary School. After a stint in food service I became Director of Catering for a school, and was asked to create a training program for undergraduate students.”

Creating the training program planted a seed, which grew into a Masters degree in Education with secondary certification in Math. As a passionate devotee of math and math instruction, James focused on changing, improving, and innovating his math instruction. After 17 years of classroom instruction, at the request of Dr. Silva, he applied for and was promoted to an administrative position focusing on staff development and instructional technology. Mark has been a Pear Deck user for so long that he was even in the original beta test group for Pear Deck back in 2014!

Dr. Silva — “Aside from working a drive-in movie theatre in my teen years, [education] is the only industry I’ve ever worked. I got a teaching job right out of college teaching Middle and High School Social Studies, and since then have tried everything from teacher to Department Chair, Principal, and Director of Secondary Educator. After 33 years in education, you start to lose track.”

With a “first and lasting interest” in educational programs, Dr. Silva jumped on a 2010 opportunity to come to his hometown of Bethlehem where he has been serving as Assistant Superintendent for Education and Chief Academic Officer.

Let’s discuss the tweet that led us to this conversation. Where were you that day?

Dr. S — “The tweet that I made happened after walking through a school who have been taking lead in Trauma-Informed work in the district. I saw that image on a few different doors and wasn’t sure what it was at first. Our first T/I implementation baseline was giving students a paper with pencil and having them mark [a self assessment] on the upper righthand corner with a scale to clue us in. The principal, faced with limitations of paper collection, advocated for a tool to allow for ease of access to the same information. Taking it just a few steps further with Pear Deck, the teachers are able to collect actionable data to allow for informed adjustments in the moment. This is a great example of independent application of formative assessment that shows independent thinking, which happens when they deeply understand a tool.”

Which leads us to your the implementation of Trauma-Informed Practices. How are you seeing the practices implemented, and what is the path forward?

Dr. S — “What we realize as we look ahead to our work with understanding trauma is there are different approaches that work with various school sites. We’ve got Pear Deck in schools with principals who saw the potential to take the Classroom Climate add-on to check in with their students. Some schools use a color system for self assessment of emotional readiness to learn that day. Another middle school is trying a different approach, and took the idea of mood check and decided what we wanted to know deeper insights. They use a two slide Student-Paced deck every morning for students to respond with how they’re feeling. The first is the four faces slide, and the second slide is a text response to ‘tell me more.’ The teachers drove that process, and we’re interested to see how it develops over time.”

MJ — “Understanding what type and how prevalent trauma is for our students. We want to create a clear path to becoming successful learners, and if you’ve got students walking into a classroom experiencing trauma, they can’t engage with their lessons.”

Have you met any resistance along your path of implementation of new practices or tools?

MJ — “Teaching is such a complex profession, and can unfortunately be lonely. Unless you have the good fortune of having a co-teacher, being the only adult in a room can be a lonely endeavor.

It can become isolating, and when you learn to live in that way, that is at the heart of resistance to change. This is not just in education, everyone is resistant to change in some way. When you start saying ‘everyone must or will’ — that’s when resistance comes in. We overcome that by leading by example, by checking in that we’ve provided adequate support, training, and time.”

Dr. S — “Principals are our secret sauce — they model and reinforce through supervision. We’ve come together in a universe where you walk the talk with the tools you’re using and competencies you’re developing.”

What does success look like for your work to come?

MJ — “Adjusting the trajectory of classroom conversation. I’m looking forward to seeing Pear Deck used in a way that becomes really high-level formative assessment in real time. I have a goal of having a mindshift for our teachers to have their students leading for more of a two way socialized learning environment.”

Dr. S — “In the short term, teachers applying and using tools in a unique way, to solve problems in school. Ultimately when our Principals see teachers happy with the tools at their disposal, and when teachers see students command technology to better their learning, then we’ve successfully connected all the dots.”

Our most sincere thanks to Dr. Silva and Mark James for taking time to share the incredible work they’re doing within their district!

This week’s blog post was written by Pear Deck Marketing Director Danielle Stebel.

Preparing kids to change the world

Tabernacle students participated in the district-wide ‘Peace Signs Project’ on Feb. 28.

“Be kinder than is necessary.”

Third-grade teachers Stacie Delaney and Michael Dunlea used this quote from the book titled “Wonder” by R. J. Palacio to motivate their students for a lifetime of compassion.

Delaney and Dunlea implement various kindness initiatives into their classroom — most recently introducing a district-wide “Peace Signs Project.” This project was inspired by Melissa Collins and her second-grade students in Memphis, Tenn., after partnering with the National Civil Rights Museum to organize the first-ever student silent demonstration march to take place on what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 90th birthday.

Collins connected with the Tabernacle School District through an online platform called Empatico that joins classrooms around the country and the world through video conferences.

Delaney and Dunlea taught their class about the civil rights movement and how they too are capable of changing the world in a peaceful way. They said middle school students discussed peace in connection to First Amendment rights and activists such as Gandhi, Malala and others who have brought about positive change.

As a part of this project, students throughout the district made signs about world peace, with expressions such as “kindness counts,” “we can change the world” and “I have a dream for peace and kindness.”

On Feb. 28, Tabernacle Elementary School marched across New Road to Olson Middle School to join as a district to partake in a peace walk throughout the school.

“We’re one district and we’re a small district, yet we’re still separated and it was just about bringing the people together,” Dunlea said. “One of the big things we’ve been embracing over the past four or five years is really tapping into student voices and allowing them to represent themselves and find themselves. When they were able to choose what their sign said it was a way of their voice being able to be demonstrated.”

Similarly, Delaney felt that closing the gap of separation caused by New Road allowed for a chance of unity for a good cause.

“Going across the street and just being together and letting them all be a part of the same thing — it wasn’t a separation of schools, it let them be all joined together and stand for peace and kindness, it was really great,” Delaney said.

They both feel that being able to express their voices in a positive way empowers students and is something they will take with them throughout their lives.

“We often talk about how they’re going to grow up and change the world but we really think they can change the world starting right now,” Dunlea said.

Delaney and Dunlea demonstrate the value of kindness in their classroom on a regular basis, whether it be through learning about the civil rights movement, learning about the United Nations sustainable development goals or connecting with other classrooms globally to embrace different cultures, accents, religions, skin tones and more.

They feel that by modeling the importance of kindness, they are teaching the students that it is something to be highly valued.

“There’s a misconception that school prepares kids for future work which would be five days a week, but this kind of lesson prepares kids for seven days a week. We’re really empowering them with what they’re going to need in order to be successful in life,” Dunlea said. “These skills make all the difference in the world. You can know so much, but if you don’t interact with others with kindness, you’re not going to ever become successful.”

Delaney followed by saying, “By teaching them how to be empathetic, allowing them to show empathy and kindness and teaching them social emotional skills in the classroom, I hope they make the world a better place. I hope they make it a kinder, more gentle place.”

Connection with your French Environment

When I created my first French association, I finally felt like I connected to the people that I had been living with for the last fifteen years.

Picture by Candyfair — www.candyfairstudio.com

You could spend years living and working in France and never really understand where you are. Sure, you will know what’s happening in your particular French workplace; you’ll talk with your French colleagues about the rugby; your knowledge of the French administration and idiosyncrasies is probably going to be as good as most of the people born here; you will also no doubt have some French friends that you might have round regularly for drinks (l’apéro) or even dinner. You might even find yourself on the PTA of the local school. Does this mean that you really know the place well? I’d say probably not.

In the past, I think I had rather arrogantly expressed an opinion on most things in this country from the politics to the behaviour in the belief that I had the place sussed– however, deep down, I felt that I was missing something fundamental. I didn’t really understand what was going on in the community where I lived.

That changed one day when I saw a TED talk about starting coding clubs for kids. I decided that as I worked in the IT industry, this was clearly my calling. Fired by an inexplicable enthusiasm, I started asking around to find out who could help me: I needed volunteers to help teach for free, some willing victims to learn, a place to do it, some computers and probably some money.

This seemed like a daunting prospect. To begin with I reached out to some of the local service clubs — often French towns have a Rotary Club or a Lions Club which seeks to give assistance and often money to worthy local causes. Before I knew it, I had organised weekly meetings with people from these organisations who helped me find contacts in schools, local officials and crucially people who knew IT professionals who lived locally. I found myself addressing a local youth group, (whose existence I would have never have even be aware of), who gave me more contacts and even offered to volunteer.

I also discovered an international organisation based in Ireland, known as Coder Dojo which aims to create a global network of these clubs. They offered advice over the phone, help with advertising and also put me in contact with other French people who were trying to do the same thing as me.

I had decided that I wanted to start by creating a club in a nearby town which had more challenges than the town I lived in which was relatively affluent. I got to understand the challenges of the state schools and develop a respect for the head teachers who were happy to talk to me. I got used to giving my presentation and developing my spiel. Within a couple of months, I decided to run a pilot workshop. It was agreed to do it in a local school on a Saturday morning at the end of the Summer. I had no idea how many children would turn up and it was utterly terrifying. In the end, I had twenty kids who attended and it lasted two hours. Everyone enjoyed themselves and I had a real sense that I had actually achieved something.

From there, things went quickly. After the Summer break, I ran another workshop. I had gathered a small group of volunteers to help me and by the end of the year, we had officially created a French non-profit organisation. After that we published a calendar of dates and started distributing those to the local schools. We also received our first significant donation which covered some upfront expenses and we launched a website and Facebook page to hold information of all of our events.

The first of our regular workshops took place in a school holiday and only one child turned up. However, the subsequent workshops had ten, fifteen, twenty and soon thirty children.

A year later, we decided to set-up a second club and we also decided to tackle the problem of only really attracting boys. I persuaded a female engineer I had met in Paris to come up for the weekend and give an all-girls computer workshop. This in itself became a regular event.

In parallel, we managed to send kids off to international coding competitions organised by the Coder Dojo Foundation; to participate the kids must create a project beforehand (build an app, a game or some robotics) and present it on the day in front of judges. Getting them out of France changes the dynamic as it pushes them out of their town and into an international environment with kids from other countries where, all of a sudden, they have to describe their project in English. Working with the event’s organisers allowed us to apply for travel grants to help pay for the transport, another area where I really felt that I could add value.

The club is now is in its fourth year and we have helped many children learn to code, see that they are capable of doing it as a career, having a good time and getting them to travel outside of the country and out of their comfort zone.

But it is not just the kids who have got out of their comfort zone.

I have been extraordinarily lucky to meet many dedicated and interesting people who have helped and pushed me reach this goal. Along the way, I have been surprised to find people who have shared my ideas and have given their time to help me. From a local youth group who helped me find volunteers, to teachers who tried to encourage students to attend, through to active professionals and retired people who gave their time to help run the workshops. All of them wanted to do what they could to help their local community and give direction to their young people.

In that respect, I feel that I have gained a much deeper understanding of the people around me and I can see that people are often far more generous than we give them credit for. Finally, I think that I have been able to contribute to French society beyond just paying my taxes — hopefully making me a little bit more French.

For learning or money?

It happened. I was hoping it would never come to this, but it did. It seemed innocent enough. Our student council cabinet was starting class and doing their usual round of “Today was a good day because…” It was the last student, a great kid, someone I would never expect this from. But she said it.

“Today was a good day because I found out that if I pass my AP test, I get paid a hundred dollars.”

NOOOOOO!

Please do not send our school district on a path that emphasizes tests over learning, that uses carrots and sticks, that teaches test-taking skills over life skills. Please, don’t do it!

But it’s not her fault. I see the reasons why students take AP classes, but most of them are because they want to look better for college and not because they love learning. And that’s what scares me.

It’s not even our district’s fault. North Dakota has a huge amount of money to give away thanks to ExxonMobil’s $13 million donation because, as stated in the linked article, “The success of North Dakota’s industries depends on the quality, ingenuity and diversity of its workforce.” But what type of workers will we get through creating more great test takers?

At the North Dakota Governor’s Summit for Innovative Education this past June, we heard three speakers who encouraged the possibilities of what education in North Dakota could look like. The first presenter, Ted Dintersmith, implored us to see North Dakota as the next Finland, a magical place where creativity, collaboration, and just being a child are celebrated.

Because of it’s size, North Dakota could be in a position to build skills rather than take tests, to learn rather than be assessed.

The final speaker of the day, however, was from AP. He talked about getting more kids to take AP, having money from ExxonMobil available to pay them, and finally imagined North Dakota as the next… wait for it… Alabama.

Alabama?

I’ll be honest, I know nothing about the education system in Alabama. But after hearing this session, it sounds like there is a lot of AP and teaching to a test.

This says nothing about the downfalls of AP, and how Dartmouth, for example, is no longer giving credit to students for their AP scores because they find that the students are not prepared for the next course. And a majority of other top colleges are restricting AP credit as well. We know how tests work: study, take the test, forget most of the information.

At it’s best an AP class is a challenging dive deep into a curriculum and our most rigorous curriculum. At it’s worst our advanced classes are teaching strategies to “game the test in a way that gets kids to pass it” as one student told me.

Let’s pause here to add the fact that now our AP teachers are going to be paid for each student who passes the AP test as well. Incentivizing the test score rather than the learning or performance in the class can only lead to overlooking the potential of the AP curriculum for a majority of our teachers in favor of focusing on a test. Teachers are hired because they are professionals who will do what is best for kids. This monetary reward is saying that if teachers just had a little more motivation, they would work a little harder for their students. Maybe this is true in some unfortunate cases, but what happens when this money disappears in a few years?

The student from above went on to say that “many AP classes are completely focused on passing the test. Even the textbook, is made specifically on how you can pass the AP test. It’s not even about the history or whatever the class is. It’s really frustrating that that’s what they’re deciding to focus on and not on student learning.”

And we don’t think this is going to just get worse now that we’re paying teachers and students to pass?

Out of curiosity I searched for Alabama’s education rankings. According to US News and World Report’s best state rankings, Alabama is 47th. The good news is that they are number one in the growth for AP scores. So I guess it depends on what your goal is.

But this is not a place to come and bash Alabama. Saving $47 million in college tuition is a big deal. This is the system we are working in. We have to make choices in what we value. Getting kids to challenge themselves is not a bad thing; however, handing out monetary rewards for high test scores can’t be the best we can come up with for student motivation.

If the point of school is to be good at school, then we’re missing the point entirely. If good test takers and compliant students are what we want, imagine what we are going to get.

Here are two students’ comments overheard this school year:

Student A: My parents and I were just talking about how I need to start getting ready for the AP test.

Student B: I was just talking to my mom, and we’re so excited about making this Culture Fair happen.

Student B is a student in my innovations class, a project-driven class where students find and solve problems. She and her group proposed and carried a culture fair for over 1,000 students featuring food, dancing, henna tattoos, Green Card Voices banners featuring local stories of New Americans, and more. Her group worked with members of the community to receive donations, sell t-shirts, and promote the event, and it all came together for an incredibly successful day. She found the problem of a cultural divide in our school, she proposed a solution, and she carried it out.

The skills these students built during this experience go far beyond correct answers. They marketed to an audience, fundraised, connected with community members and businesses, designed and created t-shirts, planned and replanned, spoke to audiences, met with administrators, managed a budget, talked to the press, and everything else that goes into an event like this. Those are great skills, but just imagine the lessons she learned about herself along the way.

There are all kinds of students who go the be-good-at-school route. Do well on tests, be complaint, don’t take any risks. But there is another way. Do something amazing. Be who you are and be awesome at it. Find a passion and live it. Now. And if you think you have one, and it doesn’t work out, at least you found out in high school!

If we continue down the path of focusing on tests and not skills, we will never change the culture that emphasizes knowledge over skills.

Imagine hearing a student say, “Today is a great day because I am living my passion.” A hundred bucks sounds great now, but the experiences and possibilities that are out there are worth much more than that.

Benefits of American Schooling!

Education is the basic right of every student. So, every parent has to take good care of the education of their child. Talking about the different schooling systems around the world, the American schooling is one of the best systems. People residing in and outside the US mostly prefer it anyhow because it is simply the best institution which could play a vital role in the early age development of their children.

American Schools in UAE:

These institutes are not only limited to the USA. Their branches are spread globally. In almost every country you would be able to find their branch. Even in the UAE, you would find a lot of its branches. There are also a lot of American primary schools in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and in all the other cities of UAE.

What are the Benefits?

There are lots of worthwhile benefits which your child could achieve by getting educated from these institutions. Let’s discuss some of those benefits.

The World Wide Recognition:

No one around the world would be unaware of the American Schooling System. It is highly popular and one of the institutions. Their education system and certificate is well recognized all around the world.

Training and Research:

They don’t only teach your children, but they also work on developing their training and research skills at the same time. This basically can help them a great deal in the future when they would get into higher education for professional studies to make their careers.

Technology Oriented:

All that is taught to your child from the very initial level is technology oriented. That basically helps your child learn even better. The reason is that tech oriented methods are always very effective and could make the learning process easy for the students.

Global Focus:

Their focus is on the whole world. So their complete education system is made by focusing on the global aspects. That’s why, the children who have come from such schooling system have a broader and better vision. Hence, it’s recommended to admit your children in American primary schools in Dubai, if you are residing in the Gulf.

Why Secondary Schools Need Career Teachers

I recently caught up with one of my secondary school teachers at an event. In between our conversation she said “the school hasn’t changed since you left”. I was shocked! Hasn’t changed?! Then I assumed she meant the standard hasn’t changed till we got deeper into the talk.

Its sad that more than 10 years later a secondary school remains the same — by any yardstick whatsoever. What ever happened to improvement, development, innovation, etc and all those big words we throw around as intelligent people?

How do we expect to produce great products using obsolete techniques? Instead of lamenting & deviating further, let me quickly tell you why we need career teachers now more than ever.

10 years ago, we had school counselors who would advise you on personal and school related issues. In retrospect, I wonder how they were able to give accurate advise when they almost never encounter you as a student, know nothing about your personality, likes & dislikes, etc. Frankly, their judgment was a guess work at best and flat out insignificant at worst. Good thing we rarely visited them for any career advice back then.

But for improvement, we need more than guess work. It’s no longer good enough. We need career teachers.

Career teachers are teachers who are trained to spot patterns in students and use that to guide them towards making smart career choices.

These teachers are researchers, psychologists, sociologists, etc. They follow trends, understand today and tomorrow in education. While subject teachers teach students, career teachers shape students.

I envision a class where students spend at least one hour a week with a teacher and just talk about everything & anything — that’s a career teacher.

A class where student A says she wants to be a musician and the teacher can show her & the class (via the internet) some musicians who left a footprint on earth such as Beethoven, Prince, Michael Jackson, Fela, etc — that’s a career teacher.

A teacher who spots a “talkative” student and tries to mold that student by grooming him, sharing learnings from Larry King, Oprah Winfrey, Jon Champion, etc — that’s a career teacher

A teacher whose student can tell him he wants to become an astronaut and the teacher won’t laugh him away, but instead fuel that goal — that’s a career teacher.

One who doesn’t judge student’s future by current grades and scores — a career teacher.

Students need guidance now more than ever (guidance not orders) to compete in the future.

But for this to happen, we need Career Teachers.

ALLEN Champ — A National Level Championship

ALLEN champ is known as a National Level championship which is organized to honor and mentors the candidates who are identified/selected from across the world for being a Winner of any prominent examination/event/Olympiad which is carried out to recognize the performance or excellence of the applicants or candidates in various areas such as aptitude, academics, skills and exposure and language capabilities.

ALLEN Champ

Through this championship ALLEN champ; the deserving candidates from the classes 4th to 10th will be rewarded according to their performances. All the participants will also be awarded with a continuous counseling program, so that they can take out the best among them according to their potential.

As it is stated by Shri Brajesh Maheshwari that, “We started ALLEN Champ under our corporate social responsibility wherein the program is aimed at honoring and rewarding the brilliant young minds, who are recognized across the globe for being winners of the prestigious examinations/events / Olympiads organized at National / International level and to mentor them to ensure optimum utilization of their academic potential.”

Allen Champ

No Examination, No FEE only Nomination,

Through this championship a fact is also recognized that every champion does not reach the height of the pole/success alone. They have succeeded or became a champion by the hard work and dedication of their guardians also who have helped them throughout their journey from the childhood to their schools and simplified them with the best required resources to sharpen their skills.

Some of the important rules which are required for the championship program are given below:

· The candidates who are pursuing in class 4th to 10th are able to take part in this championship.

· Their parents will also be rewarded by the Momento, certificate or a silver medal.

· The participating candidate’s school will also be rewarded by the ALLEN Gurukul trophy and ALLEN Gurukul certificate.

· If the candidate has achieved one reward in the session 2017–2018 then he/she can be nominated for the championship program.

· If the candidate wants to be shortlisted for the final round activity, then he/she should have achieved at least one achievement.

· Top 3 rankers of ALLEN champ program will not be eligible to participate in the next 2 successive years from their winning edition. The ranked candidates can again nominate themselves from the 3rd year.

o As per the above given points top 3 (class 5th to 7th) will be eligible to take part in the championship program.

o Top 3 from 2016 championship program will be eligible to participate in the 2019 championship rather than in 2018 championship.

o Top 3 from 2017 championship program will be eligible to participate in 2020 championship program rather than in 2018 and 2019 championship.

The candidates who will qualify or score a rank in the championship program will be rewarded with Rs. 1.5 lakhs and it will be reward to each class topper for their achievement. All the participating candidates will be awarded on the basis of their class and the top 10 in each class will be rewarded with a cash prize of Rs. 1.50 lakhs to Rs. 21,000, Gold and silver medal, Monthly scholarships and also with the champion’s trophy and certificates.

Get Rewarded on the basis of your Past Achievements by ALLEN Kota.

As, this is done every year by the ALLEN institute they give rewards to the achievers of the championship program. Every reward will be presented by the some great and famous personalities on champion’s day (National level reward ceremony). Every candidate who will be able to clear the process of verification and nomination will get an assured reward with a silver medal, a champion’s trophy and with a certificate via post. The ALLEN champ scholarship Pratiyogita is held every year which is conducted on the basis of the past performances of the student’s career.

Conclusion:

We hope this article helped all the interested and eligible candidates to know about the ALLEN champ. And all the important information or points which are required and are related to the championship program are stated above in the above article. The article also states all the details related to the rewards that will be rewarded to all the achievers, their parents and their respective schools.

If the candidates want to know more details related to the championship then he/she can visit the official website or can go to Motachashma.com for further information.

An Awesome Leadership Trick

Getting the best person for any task

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I’ll never forget the most intriguing lesson I learned about leadership and management in my teens. Our school was invited to a well-recognized competition in literary arts. When events such as this come up, the teacher in charge will go to the appropriate class to pick the best student who will then be prepared for the competition.

In our school, the best in the literary arts class was very obvious. He takes the lead all the time by a significant margin. But the teacher in charge of this competition decided to do things differently perhaps because he was new and he didn’t like the traditional idea.

So, all students of the literary arts class was summoned by the teacher for an impromptu examination based on what the competition would be like.

None of the students had time to prepare neither do they really understand how they were going to be tested. It was an open field for everyone. The examination was conducted and everything went back to normal until the student chosen for the competition was announced.

Nobody saw it coming. Even the teachers were stunned. It almost sounded like a joke when the name of the student who would be representing the school was mentioned.

You know the kind of guys who sit behind the class and seem very unserious, he was one of them and that was not all. He was the kind of guy that it’s hard to tell the difference between when he is serious and when he is humorous. His serious face would make you laugh. That was who the exercise revealed as the best for the competition.

Needless to say, he went for the competition and came back with first place. Now, here is where the lesson begins. I believe that if the best student in the literary arts class was traditionally chosen for the competition and prepared for it, he would have come back with that first position.

So, what was the gain? The class had another star which would never had surfaced if such an exercise did not take place.

Teamwork is not about equal distribution of responsibilities but about effective distribution of responsibilities. There are areas that require specialized skills and strict expertise, but lots of areas are flexible and require creativity. Creativity is not taught in school, it’s more of personal quality. And it is so diverse that people don’t know where their creative genius lies until it is quickened. This is where good leadership comes in.

You must have read about the famous incident in the kitchen at the Google office in 2002. Where Larry Page wrote “THESE ADS SUCK” on the top of the page of the results from the company’s AdWords engine. Many have praised Larry for his insight and approach to the problem. But let’s consider it as an approach to the employees.

The group that went to work to create something better were not those initially assigned to it.

Let’s take a scenario of a different path to that event and see where it leads. Imagine Larry called a meeting of the entire team working on the AdWords and explained to them that the system ought to be better. Then, they tried their utmost best but the changes were insignificant.

And then, Larry reluctantly agrees that there is no better way for it to be done. Google starts pressuring other areas for revenue and hence, begin losing its uniqueness. If they had gone down that path, perhaps they would be history to us today. After all, the success of a leader boils down to what the leader is unwilling to accept.

Judging people based on track record is good but a lot of times, it’s not enough. Sometimes, an additional test is required.

And the ideal is a sincere responsibility thrown open to every staff just like the literary arts teacher did. Also, it must be administered by the boss and presented in a way that anybody can take a shot at it as in the case of Larry Page.

It is important that a specific reward is not thrown behind the accomplishment of such a task. And the task must be one that there is no acceptable solution to yet. This exercise most importantly helps in identifying new stars on the team and who is best suited for a particular task. The new stars are necessary for the changing times and they can help the organization create the change instead of keeping up with it.

The aim of the exercise is to discover people among the staff who have great ability to function in a pivotal area that the company may never discover traditionally. Or perhaps people who can do really significant things who are currently being overshadowed somewhere with something anybody else can do.

This exercise should be done at least once in 2 years to keep an organization fresh. However, it shouldn’t be a common occurrence to avoid the idea of becoming a routine and a means of overloading gullible employees.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +433,678 people.

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EDUCATION AS A PROFIT MAXIMIZATION TOOL— a gist of how institutions treat various talents.

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and we have the habit of drinking tea with a healthy discussion, it’s totally family time for me. And the topic came across like this about how and what kind of education does the well known institutions deliver and how parents and their react for the same.

It’s an open secret that, institutions that are running today are totally commercialized and they purely work for profit maximization. My wife came up with an incident and it so happens in one of the institutions in the coastal part of Karnataka,India (I don’t want to name that institution), where they take admissions in 4 different ways!..Let me give you some figures here.

If your score is….

90% and above, you will be in section”A” — Utmost care will be given, top most delegates will be called for guest lectures and extra coaching and continuous quality development. So these elite kids have to be focused only on studies and studies and studies and nothing else!!

Now, if your score is between 80–90%, you will be in section”B” — Yes, care will be taken with lot of assignment works and only hard work. These kids will have an aim to score that 95 and above and match themselves with the so called elite kids!

Next, if your score is between 70–80%, there comes section”C” — This class comes with heavy fee structure and donation because your score is low! exposure is less when it is compared to elite kids, and these students will not be entertained much in the campus for any such activities.

And the last resort, when your score is around 60–65%, section”D” — Careless! yes, I repeat careless! Here, students will not be given any kind of care in any manner.

Now, let me tell you another fact. This institute literally have adoption scheme for students, I mean they adopt your child for 2 years of schooling(11th and 12th standard) and when I say adaption, they give maximum discount in fee structure and everything else is taken care of. Surprisingly, all these adaption will be done only for those elite kids who have scored more than 90%in their 10th standard.

This is the overall structure of that institution. Here comes the real difference!when you put all students who have scored peak marks in one section, you don’t really have to train them much with all those super delegates and with utmost care just to score another 90% in their 12th standard(12th standard is the turning point for a student for pursuing degree in India). If that child in the due course of 2 years scores less than 90%, that particular student loses it’s adaption scheme and his/her section will be changed as per the facts which I have mentioned it above.

This is all fine with section”A”. What about sections B, C and D?their score is less and in fact they have to be given utmost care and make them score 90% and above! You don’t really have to train those 90% elite kids because they will anyways score 90 plus in most of the cases. So what is the use of having sections B,C and D when you cannot train them?. None of the classes will be left free for section “A” while in other sections, they don’t even care if there is no teacher for the entire day! and all this happens in the same campus. It’s so obvious that those kids who have less scores and need enormous amount of training will be left behind and their talent will go for a sewage.

This is the condition of schools and colleges in India. They purely work for profit maximization and they don’t give a damn for the overall development. If this continues, then average and below average will never be improved and given a better position and it is also dangerous for the country because it leads to so many problems and it indirectly impacts on everything else.

One can see a development when they start treating different talents on a similar platform!.

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