Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Start of A New School Year

This has been what I've felt like this past week as my summer ended and my adventure into a new school year began.

If you are unfamiliar with education, all I can tell you is it's an entirely different world than the world of business. It's the most similar to retail, however your pint sized "customers" don't really understand the big picture of why they are there. They do have goals, they do know they need to learn to read, write and speak English, learn math and it's crazy rules, get taught about a bunch of old dead people, see and read about really cool science stuff (if that customer likes science, it's cool), run around a lot and learn new games (PE), learn how to sing on key (a challenge for some), and play on the computers (that's where I come in).

This retail experience is also where the "customer" must be monitored at all times and the "customer" doesn't always "want" what it is you're trying to "sell" them. By monitoring that also includes crossing the street and eating meals. Because of this, in addition to the normal job requirements there are what are called "duties" where staff are monitoring the "customers" getting on and off the bus, crossing the street, eating breakfast and lunch and playing on the playground. Staff members don't get additional pay for it, it is considered to be part of the job.

In addition to pleasing the customers, the staff also make attempts to please the families of customers (ie parents) with how well the end product (knowledge) is being given to our "customers" and how well they are receiving it. The staff must also please the local, district, state and national administrators, and most importantly, the voters in the area, most of whom have never met the staff at all.

Other differences from a traditional retail "world" is that the majority of the staff are highly trained and educated people. If you want to know what kind of strategy you need to assist a "customer" with a math problem, there are people trained to help you with a higher degree of assistance than on the job training.

There is just one problem with this scenario. You see, there are families out there with "customers" who are demanding Saks Fifth Avenue quality on a Wal-Mart budget. As with the real world of retail, it doesn't work that way. If you want the best quality, you should be willing to pay for it.

In the meantime, I'll be busy working with our little "customers", attending meetings into the evening (this past week I had crossing guard training and we had meet the teacher night) and doing homework to try to keep up with the demand, and doing my best to help our little "customers" who are sick, crying, having accidents or just having a bad day. :-)

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