Many thanks to the parent volunteers who helped with LGPE! Our equipment arrived on time and was staged perfectly, chaperones took care of any and all needs, and we had a full stage crew to get things ready for the performances. It made the event MUCH less stressful for the students and directors by having all aspects covered. Thanks again on a job well done!
Get ready...this is one of those blogs where some folks are going to feel a little uncomfortable and might even get annoyed...
We hear a lot about communication. Parents demand "good communication". The key to better organization is "strong communication". In order to function smoothly, we need "high levels of communication". The reality is that communication is a two part process. Much like a pitcher and catcher in baseball, communication is a teamwork scenario.
As music educators, we are becoming increasingly frustrated with the number of last minute excuses for students missing our scheduled events. As you know, performing in a large music ensemble is like a big jigsaw puzzle. The picture is incomplete without all the individual pieces. When we rehearse or perform with students missing, we can't do all of the things to perfect the music. When students return after missing an activity, it takes time for them to catch up...slowing the progress of the rest.
Here is a shocking fact: In the past three years, including marching band and concert band activities, we have not had a single rehearsal or performance with 100% attendance.
We try very hard to schedule only the extra time necessary for a top level performance. We do not require the band students to be here five days a week like sports or many other activities. We do not keep them here for 4-5 hours at a time on a regular basis like some other activities. We are flexible and work out situations between sports and activities so that students can do both.
The frustration sets in when we are approached a matter of a few days or hours prior to our event with the note or discussion that "I can't be there because of something that was scheduled months ago." Our followup questions go like this:
"What is the specific conflict?" We need to know this in order to try and work out compromise. If it is an excusable reason, we need to know. If it is not an excusable reason, we still need to know. "Something" is vague and nondescript. A case of the flu is specific. A Baseball game is specific. We bought tickets to a concert is specific.
"When did you plan this other activity or event?" The default answer is "a long time ago", which then begs our next question:
"Why didn't you communicate the conflict as soon as you saw both events on the calendar?" Band activities are published months in advance on the calendar and on the website. They are followed up in the newsletters, handouts sent home, the mobile band app, announcements in class, and discussion at PBPA meetings. Waiting until the last minute to communicate the conflict leaves no time for resolution. It then jeopardizes the entire band rehearsal or performance and hurts the students who must participate in an incomplete ensemble.
"What did the coach/sponsor of the conflicting activity say when you spoke with them about the situation?" The typical answer is "I didn't talk to them." Really? So band is always the event to get slighted or shortchanged? No effort to resolve the conflict, simply "I choose not to honor my commitment to you"?
When calling band parents during some of these situations, we often hear "Oh, I don't go to the website" or "I don't open e-mail". Some apparently do not speak with their children on a regular basis, or they would at least know which band the child was in or the fact the there are concert performances related to a performance based class !
We send out information far in advance in a variety of formats. (The pitcher throws the ball)
Some parents keep aware, read, and are up to date with scheduling. They work out conflicts in advance and things are done in a fair manner to all activities (they catch the ball)
Some parents do not read or keep up with scheduled activities (they miss the ball)
In order for our team to succeed, there must be "information catchers". Honest, open communication in a timely manner is the key. When you schedule something, check for conflicts. If a conflict is present, communicate early...not at the last minute. Communicate with both sides...not just one or the other. Help us to keep providing high level music experiences for your student...and for all the students who work with them in the ensemble.
An interesting article from the New York Times about Google and what they look for in employees. Many of the traits that they seek are things that we learn as a part of participating in the music program...especially in band and the leadership components of band. A rather long article, but well worth the time to read:
How to Get a Job at Google
FEB. 22, 2014
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — LAST June, in an interview with Adam Bryant of The Times, Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google — i.e., the guy in charge of hiring for one of the world’s most successful companies — noted that Google had determined that “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. ... We found that they don’t predict anything.” He also noted that the “proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time” — now as high as 14 percent on some teams. At a time when many people are asking, “How’s my kid gonna get a job?” I thought it would be useful to visit Google and hear how Bock would answer.
Don’t get him wrong, Bock begins, “Good grades certainly don’t hurt.” Many jobs at Google require math, computing and coding skills, so if your good grades truly reflect skills in those areas that you can apply, it would be an advantage. But Google has its eyes on much more.
“There are five hiring attributes we have across the company,” explained Bock. “If it’s a technical role, we assess your coding ability, and half the roles in the company are technical roles. For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive.”
The second, he added, “is leadership — in particular emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership. Traditional leadership is, were you president of the chess club? Were you vice president of sales? How quickly did you get there? We don’t care. What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.”
What else? Humility and ownership. “It’s feeling the sense of responsibility, the sense of ownership, to step in,” he said, to try to solve any problem — and the humility to step back and embrace the better ideas of others. “Your end goal,” explained Bock, “is what we can do together to problem-solve. I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.”
And it is not just humility in creating space for others to contribute, says Bock, it’s “intellectual humility. Without humility, you are unable to learn.” It is why research shows that many graduates from hotshot business schools plateau. “Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure,” said Bock.
“They, instead, commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved. ... What we’ve seen is that the people who are the most successful here, who we want to hire, will have a fierce position. They’ll argue like hell. They’ll be zealots about their point of view. But then you say, ‘here’s a new fact,’ and they’ll go, ‘Oh, well, that changes things; you’re right.’ ” You need a big ego and small ego in the same person at the same time.
The least important attribute they look for is “expertise.” Said Bock: “If you take somebody who has high cognitive ability, is innately curious, willing to learn and has emergent leadership skills, and you hire them as an H.R. person or finance person, and they have no content knowledge, and you compare them with someone who’s been doing just one thing and is a world expert, the expert will go: ‘I’ve seen this 100 times before; here’s what you do.’ ” Most of the time the nonexpert will come up with the same answer, added Bock, “because most of the time it’s not that hard.” Sure, once in a while they will mess it up, he said, but once in a while they’ll also come up with an answer that is totally new. And there is huge value in that.
To sum up Bock’s approach to hiring: Talent can come in so many different forms and be built in so many nontraditional ways today, hiring officers have to be alive to every one — besides brand-name colleges. Because “when you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.” Too many colleges, he added, “don’t deliver on what they promise. You generate a ton of debt, you don’t learn the most useful things for your life. It’s [just] an extended adolescence.”
Google attracts so much talent it can afford to look beyond traditional metrics, like G.P.A. For most young people, though, going to college and doing well is still the best way to master the tools needed for many careers. But Bock is saying something important to them, too: Beware. Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.