Making Dashboards in Excel VIDEO

Understanding how to make dashboards is an in demand skill. Many analyst jobs come with the expectation that the applicant can do this. Dashboards provide a way for a manager to play with different visualizations and or aggregations of some data without have to code or create anything themselves. In the video below, we will learn how to make a dashboard in Excel.

Borrow a Function in Excel

When creating a function of your own in Excel often it is more practical to borrow formulas rather than code all of this behavior yourself. In this post, we will learn how to create functions that borrow other functions already available in Excel. Specifically, we are going to create a function that calculates the range of a dataset through using the difference between the max and min functions of excel.

In the piture below we want to find the range of this data.

To get the answer we need to go into the VBA editor. This is available by clicking on the developer tab and clicking on Visual basic. When you do this you will see the following.

Once inside visual basic click on insert->module to add a new module. Inside this module is where we will place our code.

The Code

The code is rather simply and is shown below

At the top we type the name function to indicate to Excel what we are making. Next to this, we define the name of the function and inside the parentheses we indicate what the arguments are. after this we indicate the data type. In this situation the name of the function is “spread” and it takes the argument “spr” and the data type is “Double.”

In the next link we explain the behavior of the function. We use the command application.WorksheetFunction,Max() to call the max function whic will find the largest value in the spr data object. We repeat this process with the min function after the minus sign. Lastly, we end the function.

The Results

We can now test the function. In the first picture we call the function and in the second we show the results.

Now for the results

The dataset is small enough that you can check this manually. The number 12 is the largest while the number 1 is the smallest. The difference between 12 and 1 is 11.

Conclusion

With a few lines of code we can quickly borrow functions in Excel to create our own functions. Doing this can save a lot of time especially when you begin to create much more complex functions

Pivot Tables in Excel VIDEO

Pivot tables is one way of performing data aggregation in Excel. With a few clicks of the mouse many different insights can be extracted from some data. The video below explains how to make pivot tables in Excel. Knowledge of this is an expectation in many analyst jobs. Please like and comment on this video and let us know how we can continue to improve.

Data Validation in Excel VIDEO

Data-validation is a tool in Excel that is a great way to avoid making mistakes when inputting data. Anybody who has ever done any data collection knows the headache of have to fix data entry errors. These mistakes can have a sever impact on the analysis and conclusions that analyst makes. The video below demonstrates how to implement data validation in Excel.

Text Manipulation in Excel VIDEO

Text manipulation is becoming more and more important as unstructured data becomes more popular for analysis. Although Excel is not designed for serious text analysis there are some basics functions in Excel that can manipulate text for additional analysis. The video below address Basics of manipulating text in Excel

Acquired Characteristics & Natural Selection

Acquired characteristics is an ancient idea and goes by several names. The ideas behind this term are also called the Law of Use and Disuse and Lamarckianism after the French scientist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. The idea behind acquired characteristics is that if an animal “acquired” a trait in its lifetime, it would be passed to its offspring.

Common analogies to explain this idea include the idea that if a horse had large muscles through hard and strenuous work, its offspring would inherit these muscles. However, the Law of Use and Disuse also meant that if an animal stopped using some part of its body, it would not manifest in the offspring. If we follow this line of thinking, if the person who cannot use their sense of smell has children, then this implies that the children will not be able to smell either. This is possible but not guaranteed.

Charles Darwin also adopted acquired characteristics in the development of his Theory of Evolution. However, a few years after his death, August Weisman conducted an experiment using mice. In the experiment, Wiesman cut off the tails of the mice and then had the mice reproduce. The hypothesis was if the parental mice did not have tails, then the offspring would not have tails.

After cutting off the tails of mice for 20 generations, Wiesman found that the offspring were always born with tails. This simple experiment disproves the ideal of disuse and, by implication, the use aspect as well. Naturally, all this was happening when an understanding of genetics was in its infancy and thus did not wholly negate Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Natural Selection

One of the main pillars of evolution is natural selection which states that the strong reproduce and pass on their traits to their offspring and the weak are not as successful for this. Opponents of evolution say that natural selection only selects variation within a species and does not create or generate new species. For example, a dog change color, grow larger or smaller, faster or slower, but it is still a dog. The local environment plays a role in manifesting traits, but it does not necessarily create new genes.

The same argument is supported by artificial breeding. People can change the appearance and even the behavior of animals through breeding. Racehorses, show dogs, milk-producing cows are all results of artificial breeding. Yet, in each example, a horse is still a horse, a dog is a dog, and a cow is still a cow.

There are also limits on variability. For example, there are natural limits in place genetically for animals and plants in terms of such traits like size, color, shape, etc. For example, apples range in size from that of a golf ball to up to four pounds. Whether an apple can evolve to the size of a ton over the course of millions or billions of years is a hypothesis that no scientist will live long enough to test.

Mutations happen naturally, but for an animal to grow a tail or lose an eye or develop the ability to fly, it would take more than one error in a long line of genetic code. Instead, it would take the changing of thousands of letters that have to be wrong in the right location and the right sequence.

The probability of this happening is not zero, and it could happen over millions of years. This requires a goal-directed approach that is being conducted randomly. It also assumes that the environment remains highly unchanged for long periods of time. This means no major changes in the climate, no catastrophic natural disasters, no dangerous diseases, etc. The changes also must be beneficial, and the organism must be lucky enough to reproduce, which is not a given—considering the time required and the need for some general stability, it would be difficult to conduct an experiment that confirms this.

IF, AND, & OR Functions in Excel VIDEO

In the video below we have an exciting introduction to several functions that are related to Boolean logic. Boolean logic is essential statements in which the only answer can be TRUE or FALSE. A lot of computer programing is based on this dichotomous idea.

For our purposes, we are going to learn how to employ the IF, AND, & OR Functions in Excel.

Naming Cells and Cell Ranges in Excel VIDEO

Most objects have names. People, places, things and in general most nouns have a name that is used to refer to them. However, computer coding can be much more boring, especially inside Excel. For example, C1 means nothing to most of us and C25:D25 means nothing as well. Fortunately, Excel allows a way to avoid this through name cells. In this post we will look at Naming cells and cell ranges in Excel in the video below.

Spontaneous Generation and Evolution

This post will look at the origins of spontaneous generation, how it was eventually disproven, and the rise of evolution in its place.

History of Spontaneous Generation

Spontaneous generation was the belief that living organisms could come from nonliving matter. This theory of life was believed for over 2,000 years until the work of Louis Pasteur and Charles Darwin in the late1850’s. The ideas of spontaneous generation begin in ancient Greece.

A presocratic philosopher named Anaximander is believed by many to be the first purpose that life began spontaneously, around the 5-6th century BCE. In so doing, Anaximander removed the agency of the Greek gods in the creation of man. About200 years later, Aristotle expanded Anaximander’s thoughts in several books that proposed spontaneous generation.

By the middle ages and the enlightenment, several experiments claimed to prove the validity of spontaneous generation. Below are several examples, along with some of the errors in the conclusions.

  • Jan Baptist van Helmont noted that trees grew bigger without any noticeable decrease in the soil around the tree. This indicated to him that the tree was growing spontaneously when the reality was that scientists were not yet familiar with the mechanisms of photosynthesis.
  • Van Helmont also mentions an experiment with wheat. He stated that if you put wheat in a jar and wrapped it in dirty wet underwear, a mouse would “appear” and eat the wheat. In actuality, the mouse would crawl inside when nobody was looking to eat the wheat.
  • Another experiment involved the fact that rotten meat would start to have maggots consume it. With the invention of the microscope, scientists realized that flies were laying eggs on the meat, and that was where the maggots came from. In addition, the experiment was further disproven by wrapping the rotten meat in cheesecloth which prevented the flies from laying their eggs on the meat. Francesco Redi conducted this falsification in 1668.

All of the examples above sowed seeds of doubt, but scientists often would not accept this evidence. This was partly because spontaneous generation was an old and established theory and firmly entrenched as the answer for the origins of life. Rejecting this was difficult personally and professionally, and one did not stand to gain much for this sacrifice. This all began to change with the work of Louis Pasteur.

Louis Pasteur

Pasteur had a radical idea at the time. He proposed to test the theory of spontaneous generation. He did a variation of the pond scum observation that supposedly supported spontaneous generation. Supporters of spontaneous generation stated that the green stuff (algae) grows by itself along with other things in the water, which provided additional evidence of life developing spontaneously. This same scum would grow even in water that was boiled first and then left outside long enough.

Pasteur conducted an experiment in which he placed chicken broth inside a flask. He then boiled the chicken broth to kill anything that was in it. What was different in this experiment from others was that flask had an s-shape top. This s-shape prevented anything from the air from getting inside the chicken broth because this would involve the particles traveling from the sky and then up the s-shape top of the flask.

Pasteur found that nothing ever grew inside the chicken broth. He replicated the experiment in different locations, elevations, weather, etc., and continued to get the same results. When he shared his results, it was the final nail in spontaneous generation. Others had provided evidence, but Pasteur provided evidence at a microbial level. Pasteur was developing his germ theory and was looking to disprove spontaneous generation to strengthen his germ theory position. However, he also had sunk the main view on the origin of life in the process. All this happened in the year 1859.

Darwin & Evolution

Naturally, scientists were distraught at the loss of spontaneous generation. Now the question was, where did humans come from? If life comes from life, does this mean that there is some supernatural explanation for life? Acknowledging a supernatural power that cannot be observed and tested is considered unscientific; however, in one of the incredible coincidences of scientific history, Charles Darwin published his theory on evolution in 1859. In other words, the same year that spontaneous generation was disproven scientifically, another explanation for the development of life was already on the scene.

There had been rumbles of evolution in the past, such as Lamarckianism, Catastrophism, and Uniformitarianism. The difference now was that the audience was much more receptive to another explanation after the most established view was destroyed. Suddenly, Darwin’s theory became the primary explanation for explaining life.

Darwin’s theory of evolution is the main explanation of the origin of life in the scientific community. It has achieved perhaps the same unquestioned standard of acceptance as spontaneous generation. A significant difference between spontaneous generation and evolution is that it is impossible to test evolution. You cannot do an experiment to prove or disprove it. Everything that happens in evolution happens millions of years ago or takes millions of years to happen.

There is observational evidence of evolution from million years ago, but two people can see the same data and come to different conclusions, especially when they are observing things rather than actively causing something to happen, such as in an experiment. Pasteur’s experiment can still be performed today, and the results will not change. Such an experiment (that develops new species over time) is still waiting to happen for evolution, and thus the cause-effect standard of an experiment

Making a Function in Excel VIDEO

Functions allow the user to automate redundant tasks that need to be completed. When you first begin making them sometimes it seems as those making the function takes more time than doing it manually. However, everything gets easier with practice. In the video below we will learn how to develop functions in Excel.

Creating Functions in Microsoft Excel

Many people will use Excel for years and never be familiar with some of the more advanced features. For example, there are ways to develop your own functions and even programs inside Excel using Visual Basic Application (VBA). This powerful tool is sitting there waiting to make life easier for Excel users. This post will explain how to create your own functions using Visual Basic Application in Microsoft Excel.

Load the Developers Tab

First, you need to add the developer’s tab to your ribbon. To do this, do the following

  1. Click on File->Options->Customize ribbon
  2. Then click “customize main ribbon” and click on the developers checkbox as shown below

Setup for the Function

Now that the developer’s tab is available. We need to click on it and then click on visual basic, as shown below.

Once you click on “Visual Basic,” you will see the following

To make a function, we need to add a module. This is done by clicking

  • Insert->Module

You will see the following

The Function

We are going to make a simple function that calculates the area of a triangle. The code is only three lines and is shown below.

Function area(base As Double, height As Double) As Double
area = (base * height) / 2
End Function

Line one is declaring the function and giving it the name “area.” Inside the parentheses, we have two parameters, “base” and “height.” Each of these parameters is a data type called double in VBA, which can be used to store decimals. The function itself is also a double data type as this is outside the parentheses.

Line two shows the actual formula for the area of a triangle.

Lastly, we finish the function by adding “End Function.” Generally, VBA does this for you automatically.

Test the Function

Now we can see if the function works by going to Excel. You don’t have to save the function or anything like that in this example. Go to excel and call the formula, place two numbers inside the parentheses, separated by a comma, and press enter. Below is an example.

Below is the output after press enter

Success

Conclusion

This was a simple example of how to make a function in Excel using VBA. There is so much more to explore and learn, but this is a great way to get started.

Basic Sociological Theories

In this post, we will look at several significant theories of sociology. These are basic ideas that anyone familiar with the field would know.

Functionalism

The functional perspective in sociology sees society as structured in a way that the parts of society are interrelated and connected. Each part or piece of society’s primary purpose is to meet people’s social and biological needs. The ideas behind this thought were developed by Herbert Spencer, who compared society to the human body. As the various body parts work together, so do the various social institutions of society.

Social institutions are the organizations in a society that meet the social needs of people. Examples of social institutions include schools, government agencies, churches, families, hospitals, etc. When these various institutions work together to benefit individuals, a state called dynamic equilibrium is met, and society is generally stable.

With the development of any society, specific laws, morals, values, etc., govern individual people’s behavior. These rules are called social facts. These rules protect society from social unrest and insecurity. For example, perhaps all countries have rules against theft and murder as allowing such behavior to go unpunished would unleash chaos.

There are times when society tries to improve the general condition of members, and these are called manifest functions. An example would be encouraging people to buy a home and providing ways to do this. Latent functions are unsolicited outcomes of manifest functions. An example would be an increase in do-it-yourself repairs as more and more people buy homes. When a social process has a negative outcome, it is called a dysfunction. One example of this would be bankruptcy, as people cannot pay for the homes they purchased.

Conflict Theory

Conflict theory is a theory proposed by Karl Marx, one of the leading proponents of Communism. Marx saw the world as a battle between social classes. This battle can be seen in the inequality in which people have access to the various social institutions of society such as schools, homes, money, jobs, etc. The people who have the most access also work nefariously to ensure others never obtain the same amount or maybe none of these resources.

Out of Marx’s ideas of conflict theory came the contribution of the Frankfurt school and their work with critical theory. Critical theory expands conflict theory to include race, religion, sexuality, gender, and essentially anything that is not a part of the majority’s values. The majority oppresses all minority positions in one way or another. This further expands into ideas developed in intersectionality and critical race theory, queer studies, and more.

The idea of conflict has had a significant impact on the average person. Few people are familiar with functionalism, but almost everyone in the West has heard of inequality and how some have more than others. In addition, Conflict Theory is not content to be a theory but encourages rectifying the inequality in society. Communism, critical theory, critical race theory, Queer Studies, Feminism, and more do not just describe society but want to change it actively.

Symbolic Interactionist Theory

Symbolic interactionist theory is focused on relationships between individuals rather than the broader society. Proponents of this perspective look for patterns in the relationships among people. Instead of looking at inequality and oppression as a conflict theorist, a symbolic interactionist looks at the relationships between activists as they challenge the system. There is an emphasis on symbols and the meaning behind them.

Constructivism is the belief that we construct reality. A term commonly associated with this is social constructs. For example, people have proposed that race, sexuality, and gender are social constructs. In other words, these ideas only exist because people say they do. Naturally, this is highly controversial, but specific ideas that used to be considered fixed are now considered fluid as people challenge existing norms.

Conclusion

These major sociological theories are used as a lens through which many experts see the world. Most of these theories do not have a direct impact on the average person. However, these views influence educators and leaders who either train the next generation or are leading the current one.

Terms in Sociology

This post will begin the exploration of sociology. Whenever possible, connections will be made to education and teaching. For now, we will look at some fundamental terms of sociology and a brief look at the history of this field.

Terms

Sociology is the study of the interaction of groups and societies with each other. This study can take place at a macro or micro-level, depending on the interests of the researcher. A micro-level analysis would examine small group and even individual interactions, while a macro-level analysis looks at the interaction between societies.

One aspect of society that sociologists study is culture. Culture is the beliefs and practices of a group. Culture is often studied using sociological imagination, which is an awareness of a person’s behavior and experience as it contributes to shaping the choices and perceptions of a person.

A concept closely related to culture that is also studied in sociology is called social facts. Social facts are the cultural rules that govern life. For example, a sociologist might look at how communication norms have changed since the arrival of social media.

History of Sociology

Sociology appears to have been around much longer than when it was first considered its own independent discipline. Greek philosophers study subjects and concepts associated with sociology, such as social cohesion, conflict, and power. Enlightenment philosophers such as Kant, Voltaire, and Hobbs also developed principles, such as calling for social reform, considered a part of sociology.

Auguste Comte is credited with reinventing the term sociology and popularizing it. Comte proposed that scientists could study society the same way that it was done in the natural sciences. When this happens, the world’s social problems, such as poverty and education, can be solved. The term for scientifically studying society is called positivism. This optimism that science can improve society may be what inspires the push for so much social reform today.

The ideas of Comte were translated from French to English by Martineau, which helped Comte’s ideas to spread. Other early pioneers of sociology include Karl Marx and his Conflict Theory. George Mead is the person who created the term “significant other,” which was initially not limited to a person someone was married to but rather to any important person in someone’s life.

Max Weber may have been one of the most influential of the early sociologist. He challenged Comte’s views on positivism with antipositivism. Antipositivism is simply rejecting the traditional scientific notion of objectivity for being subjective in one’s research. Weber also contributed quantitative and qualitative sociology as distinct research methods.

Conclusion

There is more to the background of sociology than what is provided here. One clear thing is that perhaps the pioneers of this field did not know the impact this discipline would have on the world in the near future

NOT, AND, & BETWEEN Commands in SQL VIDEO

This video explains the NOT, AND, & BETWEEN Commands in SQL. These are commonly used commands in SQL that any data scientist needs to be familiar with. The majority of an analyst’s day is actually spent getting and cleaning data. The video below provides a basic explanation of a basic concept that all analysts need to know.

Coping with Teaching Stress

Stress can be highly detrimental to teaching. High stress can lead to such problems as turnover/absenteeism, burnout, and health problems. All of the examples mentioned are enemies to the teachers. Teachers need to find ways to process stress to be available to support and guide their students. IN this post, we look at strategies for dealing with stress in the teaching profession.

Social Support/Group Cohesiveness

Social support involves a teacher’s sense that they have colleagues they can trust and that the teacher is not alone in facing the stressful challenges of teaching. Teaching can be a uniquely isolating experience because you often work alone in a classroom with children the entire day. Outside of breaks, lunch, and meetings, a teacher does not have the same adult-to-adult interaction level that is found in many other occupations.

Stress Balls

As such, schools often need to work on developing group cohesiveness among their teachers. Group cohesiveness is a measure of a social strength of a group. One way to develop this is to have team-building exercises and opportunities to socialize.

Hobbies

People need to have other interests besides teaching to take a productive break from the classroom. The type of hobby is up to the individual, but anything that allows for a break that encourages rejuvenation can potentially be beneficial to the teacher.

Just having a hobby to look forward to can reduce stress. Hobbies can also lead to insights in teaching or stories to share with students for illustrative purposes.

Exercise

Little needs to be said of exercise. Unfortunately, skipping exercise is typical behavior among virtually everybody. However, exercise is a powerful way to destress after a hard day in the classroom. Often, when people are stress, they may also feel tired and drain. This is all the more reason to move around so that you can release the tension with movement and sweat.

Self Awareness/Hardiness

Self-awareness involves understanding one’s self. Examples include knowing what brings stress into your life and avoiding it. Knowing one’s limits is also essential, as well as knowing when to withdraw from a situation.

Hardiness involves the ability to channel negative stress into positive challenges. One example is making it a challenge to deal with a difficult student or implement a flawed policy. The challenge is in getting the child to work or to use one’s talents and skills to realize poor policies. Instead of getting discouraged or stressed, looking at stressors as challenges can help develop the motivation to make it happen.

Professional Development

Professional development is an overlooked way of managing stress. However, by developing new skills and abilities, a teacher can solve existing problems, work more efficiently, and thus potentially reduce stress. For example, if a teacher is struggling with classroom management, this will probably cause stress. IF this same teacher receives training in classroom management, they can use this knowledge to deal with students and reduce their frustration.

Relevant professional development helps teachers solve problems that may cause stress. Therefore, a teacher should always look for ways to improve their talents as this may come in handy when a stressful situation arises,

Conclusion

Everyone deals with stress, but the real success is in how we all deal with it. Teaching does not have to be stressful if a teacher changes their perspective and sees stress as an opportunity to meet a challenge.

Common Stressors for Teachers

Teaching has its stress as any other job. This post will identify some of the familiar sources of stress in a teacher’s life.

Role Ambiguity

Role ambiguity is defined as a person who is unclear in terms of their job responsibilities. Teaching is a field where high ambiguity can be expected, and academic performance can be highly subjective. Attempts have been made to remove the ambiguity through such things as standardized testing. However, people, including children, are unpredictable, and adequately doing everything does not ensure the results that leadership expects.

When expectations are unclear, it can lead to a great deal of frustration and dissatisfaction for a teacher. There can even be a sense of powerlessness as if the teacher has no control over what happens to them in their classroom. The ambiguous nature of teachers may be why teachers quit, as it is challenging to obtain the expected results without a clear sense of what the expectations are.

Role Conflict

Role conflict is the placing of contrary expectations on a person. For example, teachers are expected to be gentle and nurturing while also maintaining order. An expectation of being nice and being mean simultaneously may be an example of role conflict. Teachers are often put in the position as others are in other occupations.

The effects of role conflict are similar to role ambiguity and generally lack job satisfaction and higher stress levels. Teachers may also lose confidence in leadership as they struggle with competing aspects of their job responsibilities. One common coping mechanism is withdrawal or avoiding others.

Role Overload

Role overload is essentially feelings or a sense of being overworked and unable to complete all assigned tasks. Overload can take two forms. Quantitative overload is having more work than time, while qualitative overload is being pushed beyond one’s skill set, such as being asked to teach math when you are a music teacher.

Teaching can be overloading in either way. Teachers frequently have more to do than time, especially with the amount of documentation, preparation, and grading that are a part of the job. In addition, as mentioned above, having to teach outside of one’s expertise is a common experience for many.

The opposite of overload is underutilization and is another stressor for teachers. Underutilization is a lack of the use of a person’s skills and abilities. This can lead to the stress of boredom, low self-esteem, and job dissatisfaction. The experience of role utilization may happen with experienced teachers who need new challenges.

Personality 

There are several factors concerning the personality and the teacher’s life that can cause stress. For example, teachers with a type A personality are often at a greater risk of stress. Type A personalities are characterized as people who are impatient, restless, and competitive. Type B personalities are generally the opposite of type A and have a more easy-going attitude.

Another personal life stressor is the amount of change and turmoil in a teacher’s life. Illness, death of a loved one, divorce, or any other major life catastrophe can manifest itself in a teacher’s life and lead to a great deal of stress. This may carry over into the classroom and impact job performance as well.

Conclusion

All jobs have stress, but we all need to be reminded of how this stress can occur. Teachers have to know what stressors they may experience so they can find ways to deal with them. Otherwise, the job challenges may be too much for them, leading to the loss of people who have committed to helping others.

Stress & Strain in the Classroom

Stress is a bitter part of any job. Even a job that is not stressful can cause stress from boredom. Teaching can be a stressful occupation as teachers have to deal with many unique individuals with distinct personalities. This post will look at stress, how people deal with it, and the types of negative stress.

Stress & Strain

Stress is the physical and emotional responses people have to various aspects and experiences within their environment. Stress can be harmful, which we call distress, or it can be positive, called eustress. Examples of distress in the classroom can include disruptive students, marking assignments, or dealing with parents. Examples of eustress can include working with engaged students, developing new teaching methods, and learning something new to share with students.

When teachers experience stress, it can lead to something called strain. Strain is the damage inflicted on a person because of stress. In other words, strain is the cumulative effect of stress. It is not one or two stressful moments that wear a teacher down but rather the stress over time.

Stress is pervasive in a classroom as dealing with young people generally is. However, no two people handle stress the same way. Some strive in a stressful environment while others struggle tremendously. One person’s classroom of chaos is another person’s classroom of collaboration. However, there is a model of how people respond to stress.

General Adaptation Syndrome

General adaptation syndrome is the name for the steps people take to deal with stress. The three steps are…

  1. Alarm
  2. Resistance
  3. Exhausation 

Alarm is the initial response to stress and is often known as the “fight or flight” experience. In the classroom, this can be a teacher reacting to students arguing over something. Step two is resistance and is how a person tries to return to a state of equilibrium. For example, when the teacher notices the arguing, the intervening to break up the fighting and get everyone back on task. Lastly, exhaustion results from experiencing the first two steps and represents the long-term effects of stress such as illness or high blood pressure.

Types of Negative Stress

There is positive and negative stress. Under negative stress, there are also two types, which are frustration and anxiety. Frustration is a person’s reaction to not being able to achieve a goal. For example, a teacher is excited about teaching a new concept or idea to the students, only for the students to be completely disruptive. Since the teacher cannot teach, it is probably that frustration will set in that can lead to exhaustion or, worst.

Anxiety is a sense of helpless to rise to the challenge of a stressful situation. For example, if a class gets out of control, a teacher may experience anxiety as they have no idea how to handle that current situation. Anxiety can also happen in a novel situation. For example, an experienced teacher may suffer anxiety when dealing with their first special needs child or a challenging child.

Conclusion

Even though stress is a reality for a teacher, it does not have to take and lead to discouragement. Understanding what stress is and how it manifests itself is one practical way to deal with this enemy of teaching.

WHERE, LIKE, IN Commands SQL VIDEO

In this video, ERT will explain how to filter data in SQL. Often, we want results but we don’t want everything the database can provide us. This can be because its too much information but also because getting everything can take a long time with larger database. For these and other reasons we will learn how to use some of the Filtering commands in SQL.

Adjusting to the Classroom for Teachers and Students

Adjusting to the workplace or school is a challenge for teachers and students. This post will look at five ways people respond to the adjustment, as first researched by W.S. Neff.

No Motivation

The first type of person who struggles in the classroom is a person who has no motivation. They have a negative view of their role in the classroom and want to avoid work to avoid discomfort.

Teachers who lack motivation are often considered to be suffering from burnout. In other words, these were teachers who use to be on fire but have struggled to keep the flame burning. Burnout and loss of motivation have also become acute problems with the move to online learning. Essentially some teachers have lost motivation because they are struggling to cope with the changes in teaching that have hit the entire world.

It is more common to see students who lack motivation. In an entertainment-driven world, sitting still in class is challenging and lacks relevance for many young people. With learning online, it can be even more torturous to have to endure sitting in front of the computer for hours. Some students have to study through their small cellphone for hours each day.

The Fearful

Some people respond with fear and or anxiety about coping with work or school. The stress and demands of work can weigh heavily upon them. Teachers, as an example, may be worried about students who have real and severe problems. They also may be struggling with the workload of teaching as they try and support dozens of students at any given moment.

Any student can suffer from anxiety and fear about the school, but students who suffer from bullying and/or high performers are often at risk for this. The bullied student has to worry about the people who are mistreating them, while the high performer is worried about maintaining high performance.

The Hostile Ones

Some react with anger and aggression towards stress. These are the people who are identified as having a short temper and are hard to get along with. Such individuals dislike the strain of their role by attacking those around them. Teachers do this, but it can be challenging to keep a position long-term with this sort of behavior.

Students also do this, and given their age; there is more effort to work with them through aggressive, emotional issues. Students are already dealing with change as they mature into adults, and coping with their role at school could cause problems. For example, students who have family problems may also act aggressive at school as they try and cope with the issues they face at home.

Dependency

 People who become dependent cannot take the initiative for anything and have a sense of helplessness. For a teacher, this can manifest itself with a lack of decisiveness in the classroom and unclear instruction. The teacher is so overwhelmed that they literally cannot think and make choices. Anybody who is in a highly stressful situation will look for guidance to attain the stability and/or safety that they crave, which happens to some teachers.

Dependency among students can happen if they lack support at home. When home support is missing, friends are often the ones who provide stability. These students turn to friends for advice and decision-making in place of what could be provided by parents.

Socially Naive

Some people have no idea how their actions affect those around them. They have no clue about the feelings and needs of others. These individuals are classified as socially naive. Task-oriented teachers and students often fall into this category. They are so focused on achieving something that they lose track of the people around them.

Introverts can also suffer from being socially naive as they have their minds that they are trying to keep track of and thus do not focus on what is happening in the heads of others as much.

Helping these Types

There is no single way to help people who fall into one of the examples above. It takes a holistic view of the life of the teacher or student to determine how to help them. Teachers often want to do at least the minimum to keep their jobs (hopefully). Therefore, if they are not even meeting the lowest standard, exploring causes can help them rebound in performance.

Students are more complicated as they often do not have the life burdens of bills and family. As such, they can be in a perfectly stable environment and still not perform or care as the struggles of reality have not hit them yet. In such a situation, it will take serious work to help them.

Conclusion

Everybody is different, and we all respond in different ways to the same situations. This post provided five types of roles people assume when coping with stress.

WHERE, LIKE and IN Commands for SQL

This post will explore the use and application of the WHERE, LIKE, and IN commands in SQL.

WHERE

The WHERE command is generally used as a way to filter data in SQL. The database we are using in this post contains data on basketball players from 1950-2017. What we want to do is filter the data so that we only see data from players who played in 2017. In the example below, we will filter our basketball players by year be set to 2017

SELECT *
FROM Seasons_Stats
WHERE year = 2017

If you look at the year column you can clearly see that the value is set to 2017 just as we wanted it.

The WHERE command is not limited to numbers as it can also be used with text. In the example below, we filter our data with the WHERE command so that we only see players who played for the Golden State Warriors (GSW).

SELECT *
FROM Seasons_Stats
WHERE Tm = 'GSW'

If you look closely at the “Tm” column you will only see the initials for the Golden State Warriors.

LIKE

The WHERE command is often teamed with the LIKE command when you are looking for a text but are not sure of an exact match. You can specify a pattern you are looking for similar to regular expressions. In the code below we use the LIKE command with the WHERE command searching for any player whose name begins with L.

SELECT *
FROM Seasons_Stats
WHERE Player LIKE 'L%'

The percentage sign (%) after the letter L tells SQL that anything can be after the letter L in the search and meet the criteria. We can also put the % at the end of or text or put one on both sides are some other combination as shown in the examples below.

In the example below, the last letter must be an L. After this example, is one in which an L must appear anywhere in the name.

SELECT *
FROM Seasons_Stats
WHERE Player LIKE '%L'
SELECT *
FROM Seasons_Stats
WHERE Player LIKE '%L%'

IN

The IN command allows you to filter your data based on several values. This command is also combined with the WHERE command. In the example below, we filter our data so that we only see players whose position is small forward or shooting guard.

SELECT *
FROM Seasons_Stats
WHERE Pos in  ('SG', 'SF')

You could also insert numerical values in the parentheses when using the IN command.

Conclusion

The command shared in this post provide more information on basic tools you can use and apply in SQL. Filtering using the WHERE, LIKE, and IN commands get helpo you to focus the breath of your research to find answers to your questions.

Kotter’s Change Model and Schools

This post will look at Kotter’s Change model, another model of change for an organization. In all, there are eight steps for this process, as shared below. There will also be several brief examples of how one educational leader has perhaps unknowingly used this model, at least in part.

Establish Urgency

Step one of bringing change, according to Kotter, is to develop a sense of urgency. Since most people are emotional by nature, they may need an emotional push to accept and work for change. Urgency can be developed through creating a narrative about why change is necessary and sharing some of the prophesied consequences if change does not happen.

I once worked with an administrator, and we will call him Jim, who was a complete master of establishing urgency. Whenever he wanted something done, Jim was sure to mention how the entire school was endanger if what he wanted was not done. However, because everything he wanted was a “do or die” scenario, people started to ignore him. What happened to him is similar to “the boy who cried wolf” or chicken little and the sky is falling.” Urgency can be a great tool, but it must be used sparingly; otherwise, it will lose its power to mobilize.

Form Coalition

Once urgency is established, a leader needs to build a team of influential people within the organization to shape the change. The people involved in this colation should be influencers who are affected by the change. These people serve as local go-to contacts to influence the masses within the institution to support and make change happen.

Jim was also an expert at building coalitions. When he wanted to change, he knew he needed help and had the political acumen to build complex alliances. One mistake I think he made was that sometimes he would team with people who were established and influential but maybe not popular. When unpopular people are pushing change, it is often rejected because people often value relationships over performance.

Make a Vision and Communicate it

Once the team is in place, they work together with the leader to develop the scope and rationale for change. By scope, it is meant the breadth and depth of the change and rationale are the motives behind the change. Creating this vision helps the team determine what they are focusing on for a change and how they will know when they are successful.

Once the vision is set, it needs to be communicated with the institution. People need to know where they are going and how they will get there. Communication can help people to buy in and accept the change.

Jim was always good and sharing the vision even if nobody else contributed to it. Once his colation was aware of the plan, it was shared with the institution. One thing to be careful of is how much of the vision to share. If your plans are overly ambitious, people may be intimidated by what you want to do. Tell people enough to get things started and slowly reveal more details as small goals are achieved.

Remove Obstacles and Strive for Small Wins

Removing obstacles is about problem-solving. Whenever people try to accomplish anything, some surprises try to disrupt the process. The leader must solve these problems by providing training, resources, encouragement, supplies, etc., so that the vision can be achieved.

Small wins relate to sharing the vision. Many people struggle with the big picture as they are more detail-oriented. If you tell some people all the work they have to do, they will become discouraged. Breaking the large vision into small wins or goals is critical for managing people psychologically.

Small wins are created when the leader develops milestones that help to achieve the vision. These milestones are shorter and less complex in nature compared to whatever the final vision is. Therefore, they are easier to attain. When people begin to have success completing small goals for wins, it helps motivate many individuals.

Consolidate Improvements and Anchor Changes

Consolidation involves reinforcing what has worked well so far and removing what has not worked well. As success is experienced and momentum develops, people begin to get excited about the changes they have been a part of making happen. In other words, focus on sharing the success to help push people to finish the changes.

The final step is anchoring changes. Anchoring changes involves making what changes were made permanent. Doing this requires discipline to support change long-term. It is common for people to get so excited about the change that they do not make an effort to maintain the new normal. The same energy that was brought to bringing change must be used to maintain it.

Conclusion

Change is part of the journey of any institution. Having a process to guide the change process can help leaders who need to push for change. Kotter’s model for change is one tool for walking through change and making it a reality.

Intro to SQL

SQL (structured query language) is a programming language used with databases. A database is essentially a collection of tables that all contain information in a text or numerical form. SQL can be used for developing and maintaining databases for various purposes. Our goal is not to learn how to become database administrators. Instead, we are going to focus on using SQL for data analysis.

The data used in this example is NBA Salary and Statistics 2016-17 (SQLite version), a database file available at Kaggle. This database contains information on basketball statistics from 1950-2017. There is more that could be said, but for simplicity, we will learn as we go along.

The software used to explore the database in these examples is DBeaver, a free, open-source software database manager. You can run SQL from a terminal, but it is a little bit easier for beginners to have a GUI interface most of the time. If you want to use this database, you can download it and connect this database to whatever database manager you are using.

In this post, we will focus on using the following commands.

  • SELECT
  • FROM
  • LIMIT
  • ORDER BY

SELECT and FROM

The SELECT and FROM commands almost always work together at the beginning of an SQL query. The SELECT command tables which column(s) you want SQL to pull from a table. The FROM command indicates which table you want to pull data from. Below is code and a screenshot of using these two commands together to pull data from the database.

SELECT * 

FROM Seasons_Stats

This is what the output looks like in DBeaver. What you see is different. The asterisk after SELECT tells SQL to pull all columns in the table. You can also see a combination of text and numeric data in the columns we can see.

LIMIT

The next command that we will learn is the LIMIT command. This command limits how many rows of data are returned for an output. The code and output are below.

SELECT * 

FROM Seasons_Stats

LIMIT 5

By using the LIMIT command, only five rows of data were pulled. How many rows you want is up to you, but this example was set to 5.

ORDER BY

The ORDER BY command allows you to sort the data from highest to lowest or vice versa based on one or more columns in the table. In the example below, we will sort the data by the age column descending to determine who are some of the oldest players to play in the NBA since 1950, which is the first year data is available in this data set. Also, note that only the first five rows are listed because of the LIMIT command. The code and output is below.

SELECT * 

FROM Seasons_Stats 

order by Age DESC 

LIMIT 5

From the output, it appears that Kevin Willis is the oldest player to play in the NBA since 1950. The DESC argument next to ORDER BY sorts the results from highest to lowest.

Conclusion

There is much more to learn about SQL than what was shared here. However, the most important thing to know whenever doing a data analyst is to make sure you know what you want to know. This involves developing straightforward questions that can be answered with available tools.

Lewin’s Change Model

Lewin’s change model is a famous model that tries to describe the experience of change as it happens in an organization. This post will explain Lewin’s model of change in the context of educational institutions.

For Lewin’s model, there are three phases: unfreeze, move, and freeze. We will learn about each below.

Unfreeze

Phase one of change, according to Lewin, is unfreezing. Unfreezing involves examining the current situation are state of the organization. This is often called a needs analysis in education. Once it is clear what problems the organization is facing, the next step is to identify what needs to change and create motivation for accepting change.

Accepting change can be challenging to do in large institutions such as schools. Therefore, leaders must look for ways to lower resistance to change. This is often done in the second step of Lewin’s model.

Educational institutions are frequently conducting needs analysis for accreditation and are thus often experienced with the unfreeze phase of Lewin’s model. For example, a school may make adjustments to its curriculum based on input from stakeholders. This is an example of change that requires unfreezing the courses offered at the institution.

Move

Lewin’s second phase is called “move.” The move phase involves taking action or making the plan developed in the previous step a reality. If a school needs to make changes, it may support the transition through training, support, or information about the change. The goal is to empower people to adjust to the change that is necessary for whatever reason.

Another important aspect of this step, according to Lewin, is involving stakeholders. Letting people be a part of the solution often helps these same people accept change. This means having a dialog and considering the concerns and fears of the people who will be affected by the change.

It is common for organizations, not just schools, to miss the opportunity to include others in the change process. For example, administrators often will announce a change that is needed, such as changes to submitting grades, without talking to teachers about how this works. Sadly, many leaders will address complaints or concerns from their subordinates, but they never go to these same people when trying to solve the problem.

Refreeze

The final step of Lewin’s model of change is “refreeze.” Refreeze involves making whatever changes that were implemented permanent. Accomplishing this involves putting in place a system of accountability that is palatable to the stakeholders. The word that is commonly used today for refreeze is “the new normal.”

Refreezing may be the most challenging stage of the change process because it involves maintaining discipline for behavior that becomes a habit. For example, schools often implement many great ideas that are not sustained for the long term, such as grading policies, attendance, or even protocols for discipline. This usually happens because human nature often wants to be responsive rather than prescriptive.

Conclusion

Lewin’s model provides a basic idea of the change process that many of us have experienced in one way or the other. It does assume that organizations are freezable, which in today’s dynamic environment is perhaps unlikely. Despite this, Lewin’s model is a traditional way of envisioning the experience of change in an institution.

Factors of Change

This post will explain the various factors related to change. In particular, we will look at the scope, level, and intentionality of change.

Scope of Change

The scope of change relates to the amount of disruption change will cause. The scope of change can fall along a continuum with two main categories: incremental change and transformational change. Incremental change involves making minor adjustments to an existing organization or school. For example, a university might adjust the attendance policy to be consistent across departments.

Transformational change involves change that has a more significant influence on the function of the institution. An example that many educators are familiar with over the last few years was the sudden shift to online learning. This has had a tremendous influence on all stakeholders involved in an educational institution.

Although not related directly to scope, strategic change is a type of change that helps an institution align its tasks with the mission and objectives of the institution. For example, when schools moved online (transformational change), they had to continue providing quality education. AS such a strategic change might provide training to faculty to deal with the change to online learning while also providing a quality experience.

Level of Change

Another factor in the change process is the level of change. Level change is another way of saying how many people are affected by the change. The level of change moves along a continuum of three levels: individual, group, and organization. These levels are primarily self-explanatory, but individual change involves helping individuals make changes to rectify a weakness or boost performance. For example, a teacher struggling with classroom management may work with administrators to develop strategies for dealing with students.

Group-level change focuses on helping people work together and involve team-building activities and or training as examples. For example, the English department at a high school may put together training on classroom management for all teachers and not just individual teachers.

Finally, organizational change is change across the entire institution. For example, many schools have some sort of training or announcement of new policies at the beginning of a school year. This often indicates changes that impact almost every one involves in the school.

Intentionality

Intentionality relates to the fact that the changes brought, regardless of scope or level, were either planned or unplanned. Planned change is thought out in advance and implemented at the discretion of the individuals involved. For example, an institution develops a new attendance system to improve efficiency. Such a change helps to achieve the specific goals of the institution. Naturally, this is the preferred way of doing things for most institutions.

Unplanned change is a change that is ad hoc or in response to an emergency. Generally, this type of change may not necessarily help an institution to achieve various goals and objectives that it may have. For example, moving online was an unplanned change. Few schools were dreaming of such a move, and it had a considerable impact on achieving the goals and objectives of providing education for students.

Conclusion

Change is a significant factor of life that impacts the world in various levels of breadth and depth and whether it was planned or not. Leaders need to be aware of these multiple factors that shape the change experience their institutions may have.

Types of Change and Schools

Change is a part of life, and one thing most people have in common is a dislike of change. This post will look at change and its relationship with the organization of schools.

Types of Change in an Organization

There are at least three ways that an organization, such as a school, can change. These three ways are structural, technological, and cultural.

Structural change relates to redesigning how the school is organized. For example, a school might add or remove departments, change job responsibilities, and or create new positions within the institution.

Technological change refers to having to make adjustments to the use of various electronics. It is common for there to be resistance to changing technology because people generally do not want to waste time learning new things. Technology can also, at times, lead to downsizing, which is something people do not like as well.

The final form of change is cultural change. This form of change has to deal with how people think about the organization. In other words, cultural change causes a shift in the beliefs and assumptions about the company and how things are done. Each school has its unique way of seeing the world and teaching and helping students—cultural change involves modifying these views.

Points to Ponder

The scope of change can affect people’s willingness to accept it. For example, suppose a school hires an additional teacher because of the overload of the current teachers. In that case, there will probably be little resistance to this form of change because the current system was so intolerable. However, if the change calls removing teachers, it is safe to assume strong resistance.

This same line of thought applies to the other forms of change, technological and cultural. Minor changes will be tolerated, and significant changes will be tolerated if they relieve a significant problem. However, if the changes are unpalatable due to their size or inability to solve a problem, resistance is more likely.

It is also important to realize that all of these types of change can happen simultaneously in a school. For example, a technological change such as incorporating e-learning could lead to a need to change things in terms of the organization. For example, it may be necessary to restructure the IT department by splitting responsibilities and hiring additional people. In addition, cultural changes may also be affected by e-learning adoption through the need for the organization to be more receptive to the rapid changes of the IT world.

The point being made here is to remember that change cannot happen in a vacuum. Unfortunately, when change comes, it will affect things that the leadership did not want to be changed. This has led in part to disdain by many leaders of change. It is not so much the change that is the problem but the unforeseen consequences of the change that bothers many educational leaders.

Conclusion

Change will always be a threat to a school. However, when it is time to make a change, leaders need to know how change can impact an organization.

Organizational Culture and Schools

The culture of an organization is one of the main factors in motivating the actions and attitudes of employees. The culture of an organization is what brings people together for a common purpose. As such, since these ideas on culture come from business, this may be something that administrators and teachers need to be aware of as they set up the institutional culture or classroom culture.

Therefore, this post will look at several common types of organizational cultures and their relationship or similarity to what happens in a school context. The ideas discussed below come from the Competing Values Framework and include four main quadrants in which cultures can be found, and these are.

  • Clan
  • Adhocracy
  • Hierarchy
  • Market

Clan

An organization that has a clan-style culture is perhaps the one most similar to most schools. A clan organization emphasizes relationships, mentoring, development, and other personal growth characteristics. Most teachers want to see their students develop into responsible young adults and take satisfaction from this. The same can be said of many administrators regarding seeing their teachers and their students grow and develop healthy relationships.

Adhocracy

An adhocracy culture is one in which there is an emphasis on innovation, experimentation, and risk-taking. This style of culture may not be the most common in schools. Schools often tend to focus on preserving the social structure rather than pushing the edges of the envelope. However, this is not to say that no innovation and experimentation is happening in schools. The real point relative to the industry and companies like Google and Facebook is that schools are not highly innovative.

Hierarchy

Efficiency is the name of the game for hierarchy culture. In this culture, there is a focus on precision, expertise, cautiousness, and conservatism. A hierarchical culture has found a system that works and does not want to disturb said system. Like the clan culture, the hierarchy culture is widespread in the educational setting.

Market 

Last but not least is the market culture. This culture focuses on delivering value, fast decision-making, and a general sense of getting things done. Educational institutions are not generally known for their speed and decision-making. However, this may be because of the focus on relationships and a preference for a clan-like culture.

Conclusion

The main benefit of this information is reflection. Every teacher and leader needs to ask themselves what kind of culture do I want to develop. Having insights into what types of cultures are common can help any leader develop their unique approach. The culture of a school can be firmly in one style or the other or be a mixture of various techniques to facilitate success.

Online Academic Dishonesty

Cheating has always been a problem in education. Students struggle to learn content, or perhaps they are too lazy to put in the effort, leading to temptation. When this happens, some students decide that getting the answer in any way possible is better than knowing the answer themselves.

As teachers, there is an obligation to make sure that students know what we say they know. If a student can complete a course or degree through dishonesty, it reflects on the student’s incompetence and the institution(s) that the student was able to deceive. As such, there are several ways to address cheating in the online context.

Authentic Assessment

In a traditional classroom, it is common for teachers to use traditional forms of assessment such as multiple-choice, fill in the blank, etc. There is nothing wrong with this form of assessment in the appropriate context. However, when students are taking assessments online, it is easy to collaborate, share and answers, and copy from one another.

There are several ways to address this. One is to avoid traditional assessment altogether and have students complete various authentic forms of assessment. Examples can include projects, presentations, papers, etc. In other words, create assessments that match the real world and even may encourage collaboration.

Even though traditional assessment is an acceptable form of gauging a student’s knowledge, almost nobody makes a living taking tests and quizzes. The real world is based on collaboration in which somebody has the answer, and the real test is finding resources to accomplish something. This is where the beauty of authentic assessment becomes so practical in the online context.

Writing papers is another tried and true way of assessing students’ knowledge of a given subject matter. However, there are practical problems if the class is really large, and of course, plagiarism has been a problem before online assessment was around. For large classes, writing papers may not be practical unless the teacher wants to spend all of their vacation reading student papers. As such, each teacher needs to set their upper limit of how many papers they are willing to read.

For plagiarism, there are already many different websites and software that can detect plagiarism. However, if plagiarism is detected, the teacher needs to investigate the paper personally as computer algorithms are never 100% accurate. Remember that this is a student’s grade, and there must be care in any accusations of dishonesty and negative effects on the final grade.

For Traditional Assessment

If the only appropriate way to assess a student’s knowledge is through traditional means, there are ways to still maintain academic integrity. Some teachers have chosen to monitor students’ desktops during an exam. This is not the most efficient way of proctoring, but the psychological impact is often enough to deter cheating even if the teacher cannot see everything the student is doing.

Another strategy is to have a pool of questions rather than have each student see the same questions. For example, perhaps the teacher creates 40 multiple-choice, but each student only sees 10 of these questions. In addition, the letter answer for the same question can be scrambled so that for the same question, one student would mark “A” for the correct answer, and another would mark “B.”

Cheating can be further discouraged through something called individualize timed assessment. This technique involves giving students sections of the exam at certain times rather than giving them all of the exam at once. For example, you can make several separate assessments that students have to complete during the exam time, such as the following

  1. Multiple choice
  2. Matching
  3. Short Answer

You can set things so that maybe one student completes each section at a time or multiple students. For example, some students might start with a short answer while others start with matching. It is completely up to you. In addition, you set a time limit for each section, such as may be students get 20 minutes per section before they have to move to the next one.

You can be even more specific in some learning management systems where you can set a time limit for individual questions. Doing this in combination with a pool of questions, scrambling the correct answer, and using individualize time assessments makes cheating much more difficult.

Conclusion

Students will continue to evolve new ways to beat the system. Despite this, teachers must be ready with their own bag of tricks to discourage students from going down this path.

Benefits of Music Theory

Everybody seems to love music, but nobody seems to want to put in the time and effort to learn how it is structured or performed at a high level. Most people would make music at an amateur level or for fun. However, the grind of perfection is unappealing for most people, even for many musicians.

It is hard to criticize this approach. There is little momentary award or respect for high-level music-making. It’s always okay to sing in the shower, but reaching the excellence of someone who can sing Bach oratorios is not something that many students or their parents want for them.

What makes this all the more interesting is how everyone claims to be so supportive of creative subjects like music. However, just look at how much time a child spends practicing and developing whatever gifts they have in music. It indicates that, generally, music is a neglected second-class citizen of education. It’s something most people want to have around without really putting any serious effort into it.

Music performance is something appreciated, but when it comes to music theory, which is essentially the structure or how composers make music, there is no sympathy from many parents and students for an additional academic subject at the K12 level. Especially a matter that has little direct financial gain. There are several benefits to learning music theory, even for students who will never touch an instrument after completing high school.

Analytical Skills

A significant benefit of studying music theory is the development of analytical skills. Analytical skills involve splitting something apart into its component pieces down to whatever fundamental level is necessary. When learning music theory, students have to look at the music structure, such as the Ternary form (ABA) or sonata form.

Music theory can be focused on the overall structure mentioned above or on the chord progression of a single measure. In other words, a student develops the ability to analyze complex information at different levels of analysis. Such a skill can be transferred to whatever field the student chooses as their profession, whether it is a detailed work level such as a personal account or a big picture form of thinking as a company leader. Learning to think analytically is always valuable, and studying music theory can help to some degree.

Learning a Language

Every domain has its specific language or terminology, whether physics, chemistry, math, or some other discipline. Music theory is yet another discipline that has its form of communication. The benefit of learning the language of one domain is that you use this knowledge to understand a different field better. This is what people do when they are learning foreign languages. We take what we know about our mother tongue and compare it with the language we are learning.

People who are well-versed in music theory can take this knowledge and compare it to whatever profession or discipline they plan on learning for their employment. For example, there are many patterns in music and patterns in mathematics. The patterns of music can also relate to other fields such as architecture and physics, in particular sound physics.

Creativity

It may sound strange the rules of music theory can help with creativity, but anything that forces someone to think differently can lead to creativity, and music theory truly forces people to think differently. Creativity needs to be guided by some sort of restraint, such as rules.

Music theory provides rules for the development of music that can be applied in other domains. This is because it is rare that a person can do whatever they want. Often, there are some sort of constraints that someone has to work around to achieve success. The alternative is to find a brilliant way to break the rules that push things to a new level. Either way, creativity is about finding great ways to follow or break the rules.

By studying music theory, students are exposed to how great composers found clever ways to make music that followed the rules or how the composer found a clever way to break long-standing rules to create fantastic music. If you don’t know what the rules are, you cannot find brilliant ways to follow them or break them.

Conclusion

Music theory is not the direct cause of success for most people. However, music theory can play a decisive background role in helping people develop the thinking skills they need for success in whatever domain they choose. Not too many people will be disappointed if they develop the analytical and creative skills they need, as these are skills that are hard to find in most disciplines.

Reducing & Preventing Conflict in the Classroom

Conflict is a part of the classroom experience. Students constantly disagree with each other and with the teacher. No matter what a teacher does, there will always be someone upset or disappointed about what has happened. As such, this post will look at several strategies to reduce and prevent conflict in the classroom.

Rules & Routines

Nothing can prevent conflict and disagreements like clear rules and procedures. Rules help students to know what they are supposed to do and when. When rules are established, expectations for behavior are also in place.

Routines are similar to rules and maybe the same. The purpose of routines is to guy students during specific moments in the classroom. Examples can include coming in from the playground or putting materials away at the end of a period. Whereas a rule applies at all times (i.e., be respectful), routines apply in certain circumstances.

However, the strength of rules or routines is limited by the enforcement of them. Many classrooms and teachers have reasonable if not excellent rules but do not consistently enforce them. It is a disaster to apply rules part-time. Students will see the inconsistency and will become eager to test whether or not they can get away with something, which leads to conflict.

Limiting Interaction

Conflict happens when students interact. Therefore, another way to limit conflict would be to limit interaction. Used intermittingly, limiting interaction can be beneficial, especially as a deterrent to poor behavior. If students know that conflict leads to no more interaction, it may motivate them to monitor their behavior.

The key again is consistency. Consistent behavior from the teacher leads to consistent behavior from the students. If limiting interaction is an appealing strategy for you, it must be used predictably based on the students’ behavior.

Avoid Win-Loss Scenarios

When there is a conflict between students, there are times when one student gets all that they want while another student gets nothing. This is an example of a win-loss situation. When such cases occur, it leads to hostility between the losing student towards the winning student and all kinds of accusations against the teacher who chose one side over the other. For example, if two students are fighting over a ball and the teacher sides with one. The other student will be upset, which will lead to future conflict.

Of course, there are times when this is appropriate, but if it’s possible, a teacher should try and make sure that both sides give and take in a disagreement. There are even times when both sides should lose. For example, if students are fighting over a ball, the teacher may choose to take the ball away, which leads to everyone losing. Being “mean” to everyone is perceived as fair, even if students do not like it.

Conclusion

Teachers must develop ways to help students through conflict as well as to learn how to avoid it. The strategies presented here provide some ways to work for some teachers who are facing challenges with conflict.

Microlearning

Microlearning is learning that is done in small, short pieces. In other words, microlearning is essentially a form of chunking of learning material. The rationale behind microlearning is that it helps a worker to digest material as part of their job. This approach to teaching is widespread in industry as well as in education from kindergarten through graduate school.

Benefits

Microlearning has been claimed to be highly effective at helping people to retain information learned. In addition, microlearning allows people to continue to work while being trained, at least in the working world. The information that is shared is learned just in time for workers.

Students experience many of the same benefits with the added benefit of focusing on less content at one time. Given that students are often taking several courses at once, information overload is a common challenge that must be addressed.

Microlearning in E-learning

An example of microlearning in the context of e-learning is the making of short videos to share content. Naturally, no two people agree on what “short” means when making a video. However, generally, most would agree that a short video does not explain an entire topic in one video/

Another example of microlearning in e-learning could be infographics or podcasts. Again, an infographic is a visual summary of a large amount of data. A podcast is just a verbal form of instruction whose length can vary.

Cons

Microlearning is not for everyone. When everything is given in small pieces, it can make seeing the big picture complicated. For students who need to see the larger framework, this can be frustrating. In addition, because the content is supposed to be small, there is a danger of neglecting deep thought and fostering critical thinking skills. The focus seems to be on speed over depth generally.

In addition, microlearning may even be boring for some students. The piecemeal approach to it may not have enough depth to it for intellectual students. Therefore, the tool to use teaching begins with the students require

Conclusion

Microlearning is another tool available to the educator to help students. It doesn’t matter how students are taught as long as they know that they have learned something and can use it in an appropriate context.

Common Conflict Resolution Strategies of Leadership

As people generally dislike conflict, it would make sense that leaders use some familiar strategies to avoid conflict. Below are several strategies leaders use to avoid conflict.

Administrative Orbiting

Administrative orbiting involves a leader looking like they are doing something when in reality, nothing has happened. For example, a teacher goes to the principal with a problem. The principal acknowledges the problem and communicates to the teacher that they will look into it. When the teacher returns for a status report, the principal stalls by saying, “we are still looking at this” or “these things take time.” The reality is that the administrator isn’t going to do anything and is just presenting an air of action.

This is naturally frustrating, but it is hard to prove that the leader hasn’t done anything. Who wants to call their supervisor a “do nothing liar.” Administrative orbiting is a brilliant strategy for dealing with a problem without dealing with the situation.

Due Process Orbiting

Similar to administrative orbiting is due process orbiting. In this approach, it is not the administrator who is not doing anything. Instead, the petitioner is kept busy with an endless assault of rules and regulations they have to go through to get a problem addressed. This approach aims to exhaust the complaining teacher to get them to give up their conflict or problem.

This approach gives the appearance of transparency and conflict resolution by creating a bureaucratic nightmare. The brilliance involves keeping the complainer busy while doing nothing until they tire. However, if the complainer is persistent enough, it raises the stakes for the administrator to do something when the process is completed. This is because now there is documentation that the teacher cooperated with the process, but their problem was not addressed.

Non-action

Non-action, as its name implies, means doing nothing to address a problem. The leader assumes that if they ignore a conflict or problem that it will go away. There are times where the cure is worst than the disease. However, ignoring a conflict can also lead to it growing larger and becoming a significant distraction.

Non-action can be helpful if experience shows when to use it. The problem is that it is hard to tell when to use this strategy. There are times when people need to work things out themselves and when the leader needs to intervene.

Character Assassination

Character assassination involves acting the person who is complaining. For example, a teacher complains about a serious safety concern on-campus. The administration labels this person a “troublemaker” or someone who is not a “team player.” This ostracizes the teacher from others and can set the stage for eventually turning the school against them.

If this happens, the teacher may be quiet, or they may quit. Either of these works for the administrator, but the conflict was never really resolved. Instead, it was silenced through psychological means. Naturally, all this is happening discretely through rumors and gossip, which is distressing for most people.

Secrecy

Secrecy is related to character assassination while also be a different strategy. The purpose behind secrecy is to complete controversial actions without others knowing. Doing this minimizes resistance and supposedly reduces conflict. However, when people finally find out what is going on, they are generally more upset because of the secretive nature.

Whenever administrators move secretly, they run the risk of losing the trust of their teachers. Any action that must be done secretly is probably a poor decision. If you can’t tell the people under you what you are doing, why should they be open with you? This can lead to a passive-aggressive climate in which everyone is moving around in the darkness.

Conclusion

Conflict avoidance is something we all desire. However, when this is taken to an extreme, it only delays the inevitable. Leaders must develop the courage to address conflict because people will respect this even if they do not like the conflict results. Using the strategies above will cause people to lose faith in the system and respect for the leader.

Types & Levels of Conflict in the Classroom

Conflict is a reality that few people enjoy. Whether we like it or not, students often disagree and challenge each other and even the teacher at times. In this pos4t, we will look at conflict types and levels of conflict.

Affective Conflict

Affective conflict is emotional conflict. In other words, there is an emotional incompatibility between two individuals or groups of people. Students are notorious for hurting each other’s feelings leading the teacher to sort out the problem. When affective conflict takes, there is often a general lack of getting along among the parties involved.

A student’s emotional state can be unpredictable. As such, avoiding affective conflict can be tricky at times for students and teachers. What is does cause harm one day can lead to a severe outburst the next. Many people want to be sensitive, but the line of sensitivity can be hard to determine at times.

Cognitive Conflict

Cognitive conflict involves a significant difference of opinions. When people argue about the best way to do something or ideas, it often involves cognitive conflict. Many conflicts can begin cognitively but quickly devolved into affective conflict. Generally, cognitive conflict is not as common as people often rely more on their emotions than their intellectual capacities when in conflict. Evidence of this is how people substitute “I feel” with “I think.” For many people, these two phrases mean the same thing.

Behavioral Conflict

Conflict can also occur because of the actions of a person or group that offends another. When the behavior of one person or group offends the other, it is an example of behavioral conflict. A student talking in class could lead to behavioral conflict with the teacher, for instance. Like affective conflict, behavioral conflict can be tricky because people can be unpredictable in terms of acceptable behavior.

Goal Conflict

Group desiring different outcomes can come to a significant disagreement. Goal conflict happens when people are fighting over achieving different goals. A classic example is watching any sports game. It is generally not possible for both sides to when the game.

All of these different forms of conflict can be interrelated. For example, a student is talking in class, which leads to behavioral conflict with the teacher. During the behavioral conflict, the teacher or student may become angry, which is affective conflict. To further confuse things, goal conflict can be happening because the teacher wants the talking to stop while the student wants to keep going. Lastly, cognitive conflict can occur because the teacher thinks it is wrong for the student to be talking while the student doesn’t see anything wrong with it.

Therefore, it may be wisest not to focus so much on the type of conflict but instead focus on defusing the conflict.

Scope of the Conflict

Conflict can happen at several levels. Interpersonal conflict is conflict within an individual. An example of this is a student struggling to decide or do the right thing. This internal struggle is a form of intrapersonal conflict.

Interpersonal and intergroup conflict is conflict between individuals and groups. Lastly, inter-organizational conflict is conflict between organizations. Each of these forms of conflict can involve complex alliances and negotiation. For example, two students in the same group or school who generally hate each other may work together if an outsider offends the group. This is similar to the proverb, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” For the sake of the group, these two enemies will unite temporarily because of the outside threat.

Conclusion

Conflict is part of life. Students need to be aware that conflict is something they will always have to deal with. Teachers need to understand the forms and levels of conflict to help students learn from the battles they face when dealing with each other.

Interactions & Power in the Classroom

Power is the ability to influence others. Several things affect power in the classroom. In organizational behavior, these factors are called power dependencies. Some common power dependencies in the classroom include student values, the relationship between the teacher and student, and counterpower.

Power Dependencies 

Student values can play a significant role in whether or not the teacher’s power influences a student. In other words, if the student cares about what the teacher wants them to do, it is more likely they will be affected by the teacher. For example, it is common for students to love PE. If the teacher wants the students to complete specific assignments to have PE, students will comply because they care about PE. However, the converse is true that if students do not care or value PE, they may not comply.

The second dependency of power is the relationship between the student and teacher. If the two parties hate each other, there will be little hope of compliance except through coercion. A bitter truth of teaching is that sometimes a teacher can foster good relationships with students, and sometimes they cannot. It is essential to realize that there could be student resistance to the teacher’s power if there is tension between a student and teacher.

Counterpower is essentially the power the student has to influence the teacher. If a student possesses a high amount of power, it is possible to expect a high resistance level. For example, there is a common stereotype of the student-athlete not complying with completing academic assignments. The athlete can do this because they possess some counterpower due to their athletic status. This stops the teacher from holding the athlete accountable for not completing assignments.

Use of Power

There are also several ways that a teacher can use power. A teacher can control the flow of information to students. This is common when the teacher is still making decisions about something or withhold information to elicit a desired behavior. For example, a teacher may not share the details of the amount of PE time students will get if they complete assignments. This may be because the teacher is unsure how much they can give at that moment and need to work it out. Information can also be shared to encourage behavior, such as a teacher being honest about why the students can not play outside due to unforeseen circumstances.

Teachers can also control access to people. For example, it is common for teachers to separate from students who might be talking too much when together. This is a classical power move to encourage compliance with on-task behavior. A teacher can also award good behavior by allowing students to work together.

Another everyday use of power in the classroom is controlling the choices that are available to students. A teacher may want to give the students a specific range of options for various activities. By shaping the choices, the teacher exercises power while also allowing the students a say in what happens in the classroom.

A final exercise of power is the students’ perception of the cooperation between the teacher and the administration. If students know that they will not get in trouble if they are ever sent out of class to the higher administration, this can seriously hamper the power of a teacher. Therefore, the teacher and administration must show that they have a strong alliance and work together to address students’ misbehavior.

Conclusion

Power is a an important aspect of the teaching experience. Teacher need to be consciously aware of how different factors can affect their power. Without this knowledge a teacher can struggle with determining the best way to handle a particular situation in their classroom.

New Changes to Math Curriculum in California

The proposed mathematics framework in California has placed a heavy emphasis on equity in the teaching of math. The document makes several statements to support this, such as the following.

“All students are capable of making these contributions and achieving these abilities at the highest levels,”

In other words, all students can experience success in mathematics. Living in a subjective world of “lived experiences,” this statement does not appear to make sense alone. However, the document goes on to state that.

“We reject ideas of natural gifts and talents.”

Again this does not make sense. The world is full of highly talented people who obviously have superior abilities. Pick any field or industry, and you can find an Einstein, Newton, Mozart, Bach, Keynes, Shakespeare, or others. To reject natural gifts and talents is almost akin to dismissing reality.

The goal of the mathematics framework is summarized as follows

“to replace ideas of innate mathematics ‘talent’ and ‘giftedness’ with the recognition that every student is on a growth pathway.”

All students are indeed on their own “growth pathway” but given that there are differences in all students, it implies that the growth will be different. There is no such nonsense found in sports. Nobody will say everyone can play basketball at the highest level and that nobody has a natural talent at basketball. Playing professional basketball requires at the minimum unusual height and a plethora of other skills that can be partially developed. If someone is under six feet tall, it will be a long road to professional sports, even with supreme talent.

Athletes also receive special training and classes as it becomes apparent that they have potential. If someone can demonstrate superior athletic ability, is it not possible for someone to demonstrate exceptional mathematical ability and thus the need for specialized training and development?

The framework also disagrees with such ideas as

  • Finding the correct answer
  • Showing your work
  • Individual practice

Finding the correct answer is critical for anybody who wants to work in a math focus field. Who would feel comfortable flying in a plane designed by an engineer who was not worried about getting the “correct” answer? Showing your work helps students understand what they are doing and allows the teacher to see where mistakes were made and how to intervene. Again, who would want to go into surgery with a doctor who cannot explain what they will do? Lastly, individual practice means that the student can do the work and does not lean on friends.

Not allowing students to grow and demonstrate their innate talent and abilities is crippling for them. All students need to be challenged and pushed but how this is done depends on the students. All students have talent in something, and schools should helping students determine what they excel at and how to survive what they are weak at. Nobody excels at everything, and nobody fails at everything either.