Friday, July 25, 2014

Training Within Industry, How a Sense of Urgency Accelerates Teaching

Training Within Industry (TWI) Service was created by the US Department of War, War Manpower Commission, in 1940 when the U.S. knew it was going be in WWII, to help factories that held government contracts increase production of materials needed overseas to win the war. Because of the draft, which reduced the factory work force, and a need for even more workers, factories had to literally hire people off the streets, people with no experience in the required jobs. Those people needed training and quickly

TWI met the challenge by first creating Job Instruction Training (JIT). Factory managers underwent a ten-hour training (2 hours per day for 5 days). After training, they were equipped to teach their supervisors how to train their workers, one-on-one, how to do skilled jobs, e.g., lens grinding. But it was not ordinary training like existed before. Through JIT, a new worker would be completely trained in a fraction of the time. In the area of Job Instruction, TWI did that with two tools. There were four steps for each tool. These steps were written on a pocket card carried by supervisors at all times.

Tool 1: How to Get Ready to Instruct

One: Have a Time Table (a training schedule for all employees)

Two: Break Down the Job (explanation to follow)

Three: Have Everything Ready

Four: Have the Workplace Properly Arranged

Tool 2: How to Instruct

One: Prepare the Worker (find out what he knows, introduce the job)

Two: Present the Operation

Three: Have Worker Try It (Learn by doing)

Four: Follow Up

There are actually three tools. In How to Get Ready to Instruct, the supervisor learns to make a Job Breakdown Sheet (JBS), a one-pager that had all necessary information for training one, particular job. So each operation had a JBS. The JBS had three columns, Steps (What to do), Key Points (keys to doing something correctly, e.g., ¾ turn of the screwdriver), and Reasons (rationalization for each key point).

In step two of How to Instruct, the supervisor demonstrated the job, calling out the steps, key points, and reasons. In step three, the worker mimicked the supervisor, also calling out the steps, key points, and reasons. One might think this is wasted time but it actually sped up learning because the worker was practicing doing the job correctly, and learning how and why he was doing what he was doing.

After JIT, TWI added two more programs, JRT and JMT. JRT (Job Relations Training) taught supervisors how to build good relations with workers, key to having happy workers who like to come to work and work hard. JMT (Job Methods Training) taught the factories how to install a continuous improvement system, using worker suggestions, which in time developed a culture of “How Can We Make This Better?”

There are many who say, TWI had a huge part in winning WWII. Why did it work? It worked because of great leadership but the number one reason may be, there was urgency. We needed to win a war and there was no time to waste.

I have known classroom teachers and sports coaches who teach with the same urgency and they are all extremely effective. Why teach with urgency? There is a war to win for the students. The enemies are: Ignorance, Poverty, Prison, and Pregnancy, to name just a few. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chipotle Salsa with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes

I've never posted a recipe before but today I can't help myself.

You make salsa and you're still looking for that one, the perfect salsa, the one with great rich complex flavors and balance, the right amount of fresh cilantro, a tasty kick, and a very pleasant aftertaste. I'm talking about a salsa so good, if it were at a party and you were tasting it, it would be necessary for the host to come over and say, "Hey buddy, want to see the house?" and then lead you politely buy the arm (like the secret service) away from that salsa because, if he were to allow your salsa feeding frenzy to continue, there would be none left for the other guests, and they would be forced to eat the cheese ball that's so hard, there's a snapped stainless-steel spoon laying next to it.  Back to the salsa.

I too make a lot of salsa and I'm happy to say, last night I made the salsa described above. When I tasted it, something amazing happened. I took two semesters of Spanish in high school but I don't remember any of it except for, "Ola Isabel." But when I tasted this salsa, I began to speak in tongues, Spanish that is. I don't know exactly what I said but I remember hearing, "Maria," and "Mucho."

When (I say "when" because you are convinced you cannot live without knowing this salsa.) you make this, follow the recipe exactly the first time. Then you can make some changes if you want but I'm pretty sure you won't want to change the salsa, much like you would not want to change your husband or wife because they are perfect too.  This will make about thee cups.

1/4 of an onion, white or yellow, not sweet, chopped roughly
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds out and halved

1 can (14 oz or so) fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup grape tomatoes (can use cherry tomatoes but grape tomatoes, at Costco, are better)
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (let sauce drip off peppers a little)
2 tsp of the adobo sauce

Kosher salt (it's going to be about 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp freshly-cracked black pepper
Juice of one lime

1/2 cup (packed) of freshly-chopped cilantro

In oven, broil the onion and jalapeño till edges start to brown. Set aside.
Put the second group in a food processor, add the jalapeño and onions, and pulse till still chunky but certainly not smooth.
Add pepper and lime. Then add salt to taste.

Add cilantro and pulse one or two more times. You should see the cilantro in the salsa. It's a beautiful thing, the red and green working together.

When you taste this, you'll begin to speak Spanish with a vocabulary that will surprise you because you'll make up words like me when I took a bite and said, "Mama Granadusta" and "Hista Mañana.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Begin With the End in Mind and the End Will Happen

One of the things I like about Cook’s Illustrated (American’s Kitchen) is, before they go into the recipe, they tell you “Why this recipe works.” In that brief prologue, they present exactly what that dish should taste like. For example, for their All American Potato Salad,


We are looking for flavorful, tender potatoes, punctuated by crunchy bits of onion and celery. An ideal dressing would have both a hint of sweetness and a measure of acidity.


Once they have established this, complete with measurable goals, they begin to develop the recipe. The key word here is “measurable.” When Cook’s Illustrated finishes making the first test salad, they will know if they were successful or not through their checklist:


Are the potatoes flavorful? (I’ve tasted potato salad where the sauce was great but the potato had no flavor, yuk!)


Is there just the right amount of onion and celery bits (small not huge) and are they crunchy, not soggy?


Does the dressing have a great balance of sweetness and tang, so that neither one dominates?


What if Cook’s illustrated went about creating the perfect potato salad another way? What if they had five cooks try to make great potato salad and they had a taste test? From that data, they would not be able to create the perfect recipe. All they would know is, they liked this about this one, and that about that one, and they didn’t like this about that and that about this.


In Understanding by Design, Wiggins & McTighe present a method for teachers to plan lessons by filling out a form. Some of the form components are: Lesson Title, What questions the students may have during the lesson, What the students will understand after the lesson, and What the students will be able to do after the lesson.


In Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly-Successful People, the second habit is: Begin with the end in mind. He compares the importance of this concept to the question we all were asked when young, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Those who knew exactly what they wanted to be at an early age are the ones who got there. I know several people who have proven this true and I’m one of them.


When in my teens and living in Los Angeles, when I got in bed for the night and there was a Lakers game on (Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich), I turned down the volume on my transistor radio as low as possible to my stepfather would not hear it, placed it under my pillow, and listened until the game was over. While listening, every night, I dreamed of being on the Lakers. I became a member of the Lakers in 1983.


Need I go on? Thanks and please send to a teacher you know.










Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Unlovable Crow


From my Lazy Boy in the living room, through my screen door, I can see our little garden area now flourishing with red roses and promising brilliant lavender. In the middle I have placed a black bird bath about two feet tall. I bought it because I envisioned a hundred colorful and happily chirping little visitors a day, taking a splash and putting on a concert for us. But they never came because two darned crows won’t let them near the bath. “This is our birdbath,” they must have announced. Yet they don’t take baths at all. They just haughtily sit on the rim and, working together like a prison guard duo, they protect their bath.


Just a few minutes ago, they both made a landing and started their guarding. After a minute or so, both began to drink. Unlike a horse, a crow cannot dip his beak in water and draw the liquid into his stomach. He fills his beak, lifts his head and points his beak to the sky, and then allows the water to fall down his throat. It’s a two-step process. As I watched them drink, I thought, ‘Those dirty little jerks. Other birds are thirsty. They are nothing but rude and mean bullies, keeping the pretty birds away and hoarding all the water.’


And about one month ago, those two varmints attacked a squirrel as it crossed our street. You’re not going to believe this; one was pecking at its head while the other was pulling its tail. The little fellow was fully alive and trying to get away.


If teachers are not careful, they can look at their students the same way. There are students who are easy to like and then there are those who are very difficult to like, and sometimes we even dislike one or two of them. But that’s Okay.

“What did you say?” You ask. “Did you say it’s Okay to dislike your students?” Yes. It’s natural to like some people and not like others. Some students are just plain likeable while others just are not. But while it’s alright to have various degrees of “like,” we must love all of them. My college coach, John Wooden, told me, “I didn’t like all of you the same but I hope I loved you the same.”


So there were the two crows, guarding, drinking, guarding drinking, and I’m sure the beautiful fine-colored finches were in the maple trees, waiting for them to leave so they could get a drink of cool water and perhaps take a little splash. But no!


It’s a hot day here in Washington, believe it or not, and birds are thirsty, even crows. As I saw them drink, all of a sudden, instead of scoundrels, I saw them as helpless animals who needed to hydrate to stay alive. And, while before I have cursed them through my screen door, I cared for them from my heart. They are birds who need water, and no matter how cocky and downright unlikeable they can be, I was glad to share water with them and to help them along.


The subject of this posting is teaching. I think you get the point.


A bell isn’t a bell until you ring it.

A song isn’t a song until you sing it.

And the love that is in us wasn’t put there to stay;

Love isn’t love until you give it away.




Swen Nater


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Intrinsic Motivation through John Wooden's Pyramid of Success

When John Wooden (Ex UCLA basketball coach) began his coaching career, he also taught high school English. In time he learned, his students had various degrees of language talent. Yet all parents expected their children to get an “A” in English. Consequently, some of his less-talented kids were frustrated as they were not meeting the expectations of their moms and dads.


When Coach was growing up, his father told him, “Never try to be better than someone else, but never cease trying to be the best you can be.” Also and along the same lines, he had read George Moriarty’s words from his poem, “The Road Ahead and the Road Behind,”


“For who can ask more of a man,

Than giving all within his span.

Giving all, it seems to me,

Is not so far from victory.”


As a result, Coach believed his students should not measure success by the grades they earn but by the effort they had put in. In other words, if you have done everything possible, you should consider yourself successful, no matter what the numerical results show. So he coined his definition for success,


Success is the peace of mind which is a direct result of the self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.


He began to tell his students just that. But he soon realized, although he had told them what success is, he had not shown them how to get there. He needed some steps and he decided on making a pyramid with blocks. See link:


The Bottom Tier:

Cornerstones—Industriousness and Enthusiasm: If you don’t have hard work and a love for what you do, you’ll never be the best you can be. You’ll break down somewhere along the way.

Middle Three: Friendship, Loyalty, and Cooperation mean you need to work with other people because you need them to get to the top. Help them and they’ll help you. These are foundational to success.


Second Tier:

Here is where you work on acquiring knowledge. Self-Control (push yourself), Alertness, Initiative, and Intentness (stay with it and find a way when there’s a roadblock)


Third Tier:

This is the heart of the Pyramid. Get yourself in shape—physically, mentally and morally—to go the distance. Skill (quickly and properly execute the basics), Team Spirit (eager to sacrifice self-glory for the team).


Fourth Tier:

Poise (just being yourself) and Confidence are byproducts of all the work you’ve done so far.  


Competitive Greatness: Being at your best when the pressure is on, is also a byproduct.


When Coach Wooden’s students began to believe in the definition and started working through the Pyramid, they replaced the need for extrinsic motivation (praise and grades) for intrinsic (I did my best. That’s all I can ask of myself.) And according to Coach Wooden, the less-talented students actually began to improve their grades. Interesting.