Career Paradigms: Boomers and Gen X vs. Gen Y and Gen Z

careerOne of the buzz phrases these days with the arrival of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is “career readiness.” I don’t think there is any educator that would disagree with the notion that we want to prepare our students to be successful beyond graduation and into college and career. But after watching this talk by Nathaniel Koloc (@nathanielkoloc) from ReWork, I wonder several things: (1) How realistic are the expectations we are setting for students in terms of careers? Do the expectations align with the baby-boomer/Gen X paradigm of careers or the newer Gen Y/Z paradigm? (2) If we are approaching conversations about careers with students using the baby-boomer/Gen X paradigm, which I’m convinced is outdated, how do we (school leadership) go about changing that conversation? Currently, who is responsible for career conversations with students? Who should be?

In the talk, the essence of which can be found in this article, Koloc reviews the typical way we think about career:

  • Success in career is linear and sloping upward.
  • Finding the next job is a reactive pattern that is often too self-centered: What do I want? What am I good at? This kind of thinking is flawed because people don’t know what to aim for. They haven’t yet pondered the question, “What does it mean to be fulfilled in my work?” There hasn’t been sufficient thought put into the purpose of their work.

Koloc proposes a better mental model:

  • View career as a set of stepping stones. What are you shooting for? What does it mean to have meaningful work?
  • Happiness in a career is the result of three things:
    • Purpose – feeling like you are connected to a higher cause, something bigger than yourself (In the article, he calls this legacy.)
    • Mastery – the feeling that you are getting better and better at skills and talents that you enjoy using
    • Control – having the ability to decide what you work on, with whom, how much you get paid, etc.; you control the things that surround your work structurally. (In the article he calls this freedom.)
  • Purpose is not “follow your passion.” Purpose has three components:
    • Values – principals that you hold dear and that you want to live in accordance with; guidelines, rules of engagement. Everything that you do should be in line with your values. Koloc recommends you pick 3-5 values and write them down.
    • Impact focus – How do you want the world to be different because of your work? What do you want to make happen?
    • Needs and desires – things that are less central than values and focus (things such as work location).

What is the relationship between purpose, mastery and control. Here is ReWork’s theory:

  • There is a certain order that will likely land you with meaningful work: Purpose should guide your mastery. As you acquire more mastery you unlock (or exchange your skill mastery for) more control. The more control you acquire, the more time you can take to better understand how your purpose is changing. And the cycle continues.
  • For every career move you make, you want either more clarity to your purpose, a deeper level of mastery, or an increased level of control, or ideally an increase in all three area.

There is much more in the talk including what gets you to the next stepping stone on your path (competitive advantage) and the things people actually do that land them in satisfying jobs and careers (viewing career as a grand experiment and understanding market needs).

Is the topic of career yet another area where we as educators have failed to change with the times? How do we model a new paradigm of career in our own careers as educators? Might most of us be missing the key idea of purpose?

We can start by looking inward. What is our higher cause? What is that “bigger than thyself” ideal that drives us? How do we want the world to be different because of our work as educators? How is our purpose evidenced in our work as educators?


Managing Digital Distraction

The graphic below was created in response to some results from a survey we administered last spring connected to our technology initiative, Teaching and Learning 2014. A consistent perception over the past two years of surveys has been that a laptop computer in the hands of a teenager is a digital distraction. This feeling is, to no surprise, highest among the adults – parents and teachers – who responded to the survey. 58% of parents and teachers believe the greatest challenge of students having a laptop computer is DISTRACTION. In the survey, we defined distraction as anything that “interferes with the ability to complete school work well (i.e. homework, projects, classwork, etc.).”

Over the past two years, I have become interested in how we address this challenge by learning about the topic of distraction in general. I have found a useful resource in David Rock’s book from 2009, Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long. I really appreciate how the book connects ideas and strategies to actual brain science such as the science of inhibition, a necessary skill for the digital age. I found the ideas in Scene 4: Saying No To Distractions to be particularly interesting and relevant to our digital distraction challenge and have tried to represented them in the graphic below.

My major takeaway from studying the topic of digital distraction: Since we are a 1:1 laptop computer program where almost all students (grades 6-12) opt to take the computers home, all of us (parents, teachers and administrators) must take responsibility for teaching our children and students positive habits that mitigate digital distraction. As adults, how do we model the management of digital distraction in our own lives? I hope the graphic below is a positive contribution to the discussion.


Click for full-size version.

Google Drive as cloud storage

google_drive_logo_3963We have been using Google Apps for Education in my school district for about five years, under the name Falcon Apps. It has really become a part of the culture throughout the organization and has worked particularly well with our 1:1 laptop/learning initiative TL2014. For the past five years we have provided students with email accounts (starting in 2nd grade) and access to all of the other components in Google Apps for Education except Google+ (only because of strict age restrictions imposed by Google). We also have provided staff with accounts (in addition to their public email on a different domain) to more easily collaborate and share with their students.

This summer we made the decision to migrate teacher email accounts over to the “student” email domain. Everyone will now have an email at the domain. One of the reasons why we are doing this is to experiment a little this year with saving and storing files in the cloud using Google Drive. The fact that Google Apps is free and each account gets 30 GB of storage is making the idea of cloud storage very appealing!

How timely then that I ran across this great series of video tutorials on using Google Drive from Anson Alexander (@ansonalex). These tutorials will be very useful to demonstrate how to upload/backup multiple types of files to Google Drive and to just review the functionality of Drive. I learned a few things I didn’t know before!

How are you and your students using Google Drive?

Tutorial #1: This video covers the basic functionality of Google Drive and how to upload/backup multiple types of files to Google Drive.

Tutorial #2: A tutorial on how to compose Google Docs in Google Drive using the 2013 interface.

Tutorial #3: A tutorial on sharing Google Docs and other files and folders using the 2013 Google Drive interface.

Tutorial #4: A tutorial with tips on organizing documents and files in Google Docs using the 2013 Google Drive interface.