The Importance Of Reference and Education In Your Getting the Right Job

Most of you job hunters out there might want to polish your reference and education in your resumes or curriculum vitae so you can up the chances of getting the attention of human resource officers. This is especially true to people who have been unemployed from their jobs due to their companies cutting downsizing.

The number of people who have been re-trenched due to global recession has been rising in an alarming rate. Most of these out of employment people are suddenly put into a situation wherein their source of living is taken away so abruptly that they end up relying on the government monthly checks to survive. Many stories have been heard of these professionals still out of job because some job centers just cannot seem to find the right job for them that can match their skills, experience, and other attributes.

You must know that competition out there is tougher with fresh graduates, young professionals looking for greener pastures, or the laid off middle age worker, and other job seekers flooding the job market. You may be one of the types of job hunters circling the job centers in town, surfing online job databases, and or looking at your community bulletin board or local newspaper. And so you know how it is to keep on searching without having any positive feedback from the companies you have sent your resumes or CV’s. What seems to be the problem?

Well, there are two emerging important factors called reference and education that should be carefully mentioned in your profile or portfolio. Many human resource officers have been keen on these two factors because of the scarcity of the jobs that they can offer. Any of the companies wanting to hire a personnel would want someone who have been working credibly as stated in his references and also has the knowledge to fill in the job position that can be mirrored by his educational attainments. The higher the education, the higher is the expectation for you to get the job well done.

So how do you get a good reference? This depends if you have any prior job experiences and the type of job seeker that you are. For fresh graduates, enlist all your summer jobs and part-time jobs and then pick out something that relates to the position you are currently applying for. For young professionals or laid off worker, consider your most recent company if they have good commendations regarding your work. Some of the companies that laid off workers readily hand out references or recommendations to laid off workers to help them find a new job right away. Send a reference request letter to your direct supervisor of your best work experience and then wait for their letter of recommendation. This factor can be readily checked by the human resource personnel by contacting your stated references so do not attempt to falsify any documents.

For educational factor, this can be a limiting to those who do not have a degree, certifications, or other documented expertise. Universities, community and technical training schools can readily provide you with your scholastic records for your supporting documents. The government is also willing to shoulder your schooling expenses so that you can further your skills or education and therefore get a better job. Just look around for open programs or scholarships that you can use to make yourself more valuable with additional technical skills or higher education.

Autism and Education – How Does it Affect Your Child’s Education?

Autism is a disorder that affects the entire person and most often lasts for the lifetime of the person that it affects. Specifically this disorder affects one’s ability to create emotions, memories, sensory abilities, non-verbal communication skills and much more. It affects one in one hundred and fifty individuals of all races and social status; and tends to affect more boys than it does girls.

A common description that I have heard among professionals is that many people who suffer from autism can think thoughts but cannot vocalize those same thoughts.

Key Symptoms Include the Following:

Repetitive Behavior – For example, a young child may seem unusually fixated on a particular toy, constantly arranging objects in a specific way or obsessive about certain things.

Lack of Social Interaction – Another symptom is in the area of relationships. Research has found that people who suffer with autism are usually ‘socially unaware’. This means that they are oblivious to the feelings of people around them.

Verbal and Nonverbal Communication – By nature, autism is a neurobiological disorder. Hence it affects the manner in which the brain converts thoughts into words. Therefore, a child might be thinking of an answer to a question, but vocalizing it becomes a very difficult task! Non-verbal communication is difficult for many of us who are considered “normal”, so imagine what it must be for one who has difficulty connecting with their emotions – let alone the emotions of others!

Limited interests in activities or play – For example, a child might focus on a part of a toy instead the whole toy or play a specific tune on a toy over and over again, rather than play the twenty-nine other tunes on the toy. Also the need for a rigid routine would mean that any new activities are met with resistance.

Tell Tale Signs
During early childhood it is not uncommon for parents to have troubling instincts about certain behaviors that their child may display – for example they may not want to be held, don’t look people in the eye, have delayed speech, lack of interest in games or what I call ‘super repetitive play” – where the child only seems interested in one toy – ever, etc. As both a parent and a teacher (as well as one who has an autistic half-sister), please, please, please follow your instincts.

Nobody knows your child the way you do, so if your pediatrician says “wait and see” yet you feel strongly that your child needs to be evaluated – do what YOU feel needs to be done. Parents that I have heard from have mentioned some of the following as red flags that got them concerned – their child was ‘not pointing’,’not giving them eye contact’, didn’t seem to be ‘able to focus’, ‘unaware of their surroundings’ or as one lady put it “I just don’t feel like she is connecting with me”.

Early Intervention
Early intervention, especially in the pre-school years has been proven (by researchers) to, in many cases improve social, cognitive and communication skills – especially if it is in an educational setting that is tailored to meet the needs of a child with special needs. Remember, for some children, the earlier the intervention, the better!

Types Of Autism
A spectrum has been created for autism which makes it possible for the medical profession to accurately diagnose the disorder. The disorders range from mild (Asperger Syndrome) to severe (Autistic Disorder) and can be diagnosed by the age of three and sometimes as early as eighteen months. Autism Spectrum Disorders are categorized based on the degree of impairment that the sufferer encounters in the following areas;

o Communication Skills

o Social Interaction

o Restricted Patterns of Behavior

Asperger’s Syndrome
In 1940, Hans Asperger’s described a set of behavioral symptoms that occurred mostly in his male patients. They all seemed to have normal intelligence and language development, yet they had poor co-ordination and communication skills. In addition their social skills were very noticeably lacking.
Typical symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome include the child being diagnosed much later in life than with typical autism – usually between the ages of five through nine. In addition they are known to have limited facial expressions, obsessive behavior, poor social interactions, difficulty reading the body language of others, odd speech patterns and obsessive routines.

In addition to the above, symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome include an unusual sensitivity to sensory stimulii such as lights (that others will not notice as being too bright) or sounds (that others might barely be able to hear.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder or CDD was discovered by a special educator by the name of Theodore Heller. Children with CDD are said to develop a disorder that resembles autism, but only after two to four years of normal development. In other words, the children unexplainably seem to regress. They lose their language skills,their toileting and self care abilities, their interest in the environment, etc. While the disorder begins to look exactly like autism, the history is very different.

Symptoms include increased risk of seizures as well as the symptoms of autism.

Rett Syndrome
Rett Syndrome was first diagnosed in 1954 by Dr Andreas Rett, an Austrian Pediatrician. It is a developmental disorder that has a greater tendency to occur in girls more than it does boys. It is caused by mutations on the X chromosome on a gene called MECP2. Symptoms include normal development until six to eighteen months after which there is after which there is a stagnation or slowing down of skills. Following the stagnation, there is a period of regression when the child looses their communication skills and eventually all purposeful use of their hands. Symptoms that follow include the stereotypical hand washing movement, seizures, slowing of normal head growth and disorganized breathing patterns.

The disorder can be confirmed with a simple blood test.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified
Otherwise known as PDD – NOS, is a condition on the spectrum in which one person doesn’t act like another with the same disorder. In other words, John may display some symptoms, while Mary may display something totally different. Also they may often be subject to the same key symptoms, but may be in varying degrees.

Due to the very nature of PDD – NOS (meaning that there are no strict symptoms because they vary from one child to another), PDD-NOS is very difficult to diagnose and is therefore often misdiagnosed. Treatment also has to be very specific to the needs of the person in question and may often include alternative therapies such as martial arts and music.

Autistic Disorder or Classic Autism
Is sometimes referred to as ‘mind-blindedness’ – referring to the need to be in their own world, lack of social interaction and, limited ability to communicate, a display of repetitive behaviors and distress over changes – no matter how small. Children (or adults, for that matter) who suffer from classic autism are not considered to be “high functioning”.

How Does Autism Affect Your Child’s Education?
In many cases, the ‘autistic child’ will be required to be in Special Education classes – where teachers are trained to understand how to deal with the symptoms, autistic tendencies and other disorders. While “inclusion” is the new buzz word in special education, I find that children with severe autism do not usually benefit from it. However I have seen children with autism benefit and even excel in certain subjects; for example, I was observing a business computing class once where the code html was being taught. During a test, the teacher deliberately placed errors in part of the code for the students to correct and re-write. Well there was a young man in the class who corrected the teacher before the test began – and he had Asperger’s Syndrome. His ‘obsessive behavior’ worked out to his advantage – it converted into ‘attention to detail’ resulting in him becoming an outstanding website designer.

The Future of Educational Technology and Education 3.0

Thinking of what education might look like in the next decade, one quickly realizes that the trends in technology are leaving a large number of our students behind. We no longer live in an age of visible movement when it comes to progress and innovation. Today is an age of exponential change. New and ever-improving technologies are popping up every day and in every corner of society.

Educating the best and the brightest in this brave new world will take a new and improved educational paradigm. Allowing our educational tools to age in the corner of the classroom will be the mistake that may cost us our future. Throwing away masses of children to inequitable access will ensure that we languish at the bottom of the global pool of employable workers for decades to come.

The New Toolbox

I was at an auction a few years ago and noticed a few old woodworking tools that I thought I could use. For a few bucks, I was able to snag an assortment of hand tools that may have been in someone’s toolbox for a generation or more. As the next decade passed, I used these tools in my shop for a wide variety of projects until my projects outgrew these old, dull tools. My woodworking creations continued to improve as did my skills and artistry. I quickly discovered that using improved tools would translate into improved craftsmanship. As any woodworker will tell you, new tools require new skills.

Woodworking is a great metaphor for shaping and molding students. There is simply no good substitute for a sharp tool. If you want to build the best projects possible, you need to use the best tools possible. Thinking in terms of the next decade for our country, we will be sorely disappointed in our projects if we fail to improve our tools.

Within this article, I will try to paint a picture of how technology will shape the way we educate students in the next decade. I will attempt to show the amazing possibilities that lay before us if we will simply walk through the doorway of opportunity that is open to us. My focus will be this idea: Transforming the student from being a passenger to becoming a “user.” You may be wondering what I mean by this. Let me explain.

Ask yourself what it means to be a “user.” A user is not simply a person who uses. For the student, being a user should involve using the latest technology in a free and autonomous manner. This new-found freedom will allow the student to become an active participant in his/her education instead of a passive passenger. No other time in history have we been so able to make this a reality.

In our current technological society, being a user also means being tracked. Tracking has become a major part of our daily lives and is precisely the engine that should drive our educational process for the foreseeable future. Tracking a student means having the ability to target education toward weaknesses and strengths. The ability to accurately customize curriculum to the individual has been the holy grail of educational philosophy for many years. This golden age of technological development may soon enable this dream to become a reality.

Current educational curriculum and individual assessment is arbitrary at best. Being able to accurately asses a student can only be achieved by using modern tracking and database technologies. The means by which we can make this a reality is readily available and only needs to be taken off the shelf to be used. If Congress is looking for a shovel-ready project, this may be the one.

Imagine a world where every child has a tablet computer with ready access to the App of virtual photographic memory (internet). Further, imagine that every student can access all the knowledge of humankind freely at any moment in time. Continue to imagine a world where a misspelled word brings up a spelling challenge application instead of an auto correction. Try to contemplate what it would mean for a teacher to have a database of every misspelled word, every misunderstood concept or every missed equation for each of their students. Try to envision a teacher with the ability to customize the experience of the individual “user” with minimal effort. Imagine the curriculum being automatically targeted to the user through an intuitive educational platform that knows every strength and each unique weakness. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

The company that makes this standard available to the educational community will be the company that shapes the future of humankind. Will it be Google, Apple, Microsoft, or some other yet unknown pioneer?

Continuing from the thoughts in my last post, I would like to elaborate on the idea of the student as a user of a new standardized educational platform. It is obvious to me that the future of education will always mirror our everyday lives in one way or another. If you examine how technology has influenced your daily life already, you begin to put together a snapshot of what it will mean to be educated in the next decade.

In the last few hundred years, most individuals would consider an education as something you receive. You often hear the question asked, “Where did you receive your education?” As we proceed through the next decade, education will slowly move away from reception and toward being custom designed for the individual user. New technology will not only allow us to receive an education, but also develop an education. The question we might ask in 10 years is, “How did you develop your education?” The question of where will still be important, but the how of the matter will be the focus that defines the individual.

To make this a reality we will need a standardized platform from which to develop a student’s unique education. This standardized platform will allow us to tailor a custom curriculum that will be matched to talents, interests and life goals. For the educator, a standardized platform will create a way to assist the student in discovering a true purpose in life through a unique educational experience. The basics of reading, writing and arithmetic will not be taught as much as they will be discovered and used. Learning will become a reciprocal experience between the teacher, the student and the machine.

Under a standardized platform, each of these three participants will have a role to play. The teacher will be the facilitator, assisting the development of the curriculum and inspiring the direction the student takes. The student will be the user, gathering resources, skills and knowledge in an efficient and measured sequence. The machine will do the work of data gathering and analysis, which will assist the teacher and student in refining the curriculum. This data gathering work of the machine will also free the teacher from the burden of record-keeping and tedious tasks that currently distract from the real job of teaching and learning.

Under a standardized system, grade level will be far less important. Achievement and progression will be measured by accomplishment and intelligence as a benchmark for success. The question of failure or success will be irrelevant and replaced with a standard and consistent measurement of potential and overall intelligence. Information will no longer be missed but continually rehearsed and monitored for retention by the machine.

In our current educational paradigm, the teacher is in charge of arbitrarily constructing curriculum. This approach to curriculum development is based on inexperience in some cases, outdated materials, inadequate funding and a shortage of time. Measuring the success of a specific curriculum is currently impossible. With a standardized system, comparisons of curricular success can be made across the entire spectrum of education and then continually reformulated and enhanced by the machine.

Sadly, teachers today are bogged down with an assortment of mind-numbing tasks that would be better suited to an off-the-shelf automated system. Tasks such as data tracking, reporting and record keeping are currently accomplished manually. These tasks could easily be delegated to an intuitive database. Developing a standard to follow would eliminate these tasks and free the teacher to do their main job of teaching students.

Education 3.0

Throughout history, man has sought to pass on knowledge to the next generation. This process started with oral tradition, storytelling and writing. With the advent of the printing press, knowledge and information slowly became available to the masses. The amount of information that could be gained by one human in a lifetime was severely limited by his access to printed materials and wealth. The majority of learning was gained through observation and imitation. We can call this Education 1.0.

Education 2.0 starts around the late eighteen hundreds with universal literacy movements throughout newly industrialized regions of the world. Improvements in education slowly transitioned from apprenticeship to formal education and training. Despite our movements toward universal education, access to knowledge and opportunity continues to be inequitable throughout the world. Even with the arrival of the computer revolution, access to the tools of learning continues to define the learner.

The next decade may mark the moment in history when all men are granted equal access to the greatest treasure a soul can possess. I use the word may in the last sentence because there is the chance that we will miss this golden opportunity. Access to Education 3.0 will only be gained through investment and universal standardization. If we continue to divert wealth toward fruitless goals and corporate greed, this opportunity will be lost or hopelessly delayed.

Education 3.0, when it arrives, will be the age of universal enlightenment. Platforms for education and learning will slowly standardize and become globally accessible and affordable. The poorest to the wealthiest will have access to the machine that runs the platform.

The thought on your mind at this point is most likely wondering what machine I keep referring to. The machine in question is the one we have been so busy teaching and training since roughly 1969. You’ve probably guessed it by now that I am referring to the internet. The great cloud of knowledge that we call the internet is precisely the mechanism that we will use to build the platform of Education 3.0. When the platform is finally in place, the decade to follow will see the greatest amount of wealth, discoveries and use of human potential that we have witnessed during our time on this earth. The only question that remains to be answered is the point at which I will leave this article.

When will we allow the user to use the machine to its potential?

Stephen McClard has been the Director of Bands at Bolivar High School since 2002. Mr. McClard graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in 1990. He started his teaching career in Southeast Missouri before moving to Illinois where he taught band for 8 years.

Mr. McClard’s bands have consistently received superior ratings at contest as well as many other awards and accolades. Since 2002, the band has traveled twice to Chicago, where they won 1st place class 4A and 1st place overall at the Midwest Music In the Parks Festival. The band also traveled to Cincinnati in 2006, receiving the same honors. In 2006, Mr. McClard was named by SBO Magazine as one of the 50 Directors Who Make a Difference. In 2006, 2008 and 2009, Bolivar RI School district was named one of the “Best 100 Communities for Music Education” in America by the American Music Conference. Mr. McClard was previously featured on the cover of the 2003 issue of SBO Magazine for his work with music technology.

In addition to his career in education, Mr. McClard maintains an online woodworking business and is a 3rd generation piano technician. His woodworking creations include custom bass guitars, which have sold all over the world and one-of-a-kind computer desks made from old pianos. His piano desks have been featured in magazines such as Business 2.0 and Piano Technicians Journal and in many other newspapers and television news features.

Social Skills Training for Parents and Educators: 10 Tips To Work with Your Own Emotions

Your success in working with people, and especially with your challenging loved ones, is tied to how emotionally intelligent you operate. Keep these tips in mind as you interact with others, in particular if there is a diagnosis, such as Asperger Syndrome or ADHD, where behavior change is a primary goal. By first understanding and working with your own feelings, you can set the stage for magical results with the very challenging people in your life!

1. Know your feelings – and how strong they may be – before you get into action with your challenging people.

2. Make behavior decisions that you will feel proud of. Your style will be their style. “They” learn by watching you and listening to you.

3. Know what others are feeling. Understand that you may not agree.

4. Find the words to convey your feelings without denying someone else theirs.

5. Seek out the good things in a situation, even if they are microscopic or a real stretch.

6. Be persistent – appropriately! Stay on track. Back off the track when you know you will get nowhere right now.

7. Monitor your impulses. Reflect on your own thinking that won’t help in the bigger picture.

8. You may need to withdraw your approval. But in the process don’t withdraw the love.

9. Have tools to manage your emotions before you are swept away by them.

10. Think about how you deliver your message. What would you be feeling if you were on the receiving end? Care about the feelings of the other person. It’s just the good old golden rule.

Refer to and live by these ‘process’ steps as you work with your challenging people and you will begin to see and feel how much easier it all can be.