Good Leaders Guide, Bad Managers Dictate

The terms leader and manager are too often used interchangeably. They may be complimentary responsibilities, but they are not the same. Both should know where they want their team to go, but leaders get to know the members of their team and motivate each member to do his or her best to help the team reach the desired goal. A manager is more interested in the tracking process details. The ideal leader can combine both aspects well.

In all my years in the work force, I have seen both good leaders and bad managers. A good leader always knows the people on their team and each member’s strengths and weaknesses. Good leaders learn what they can delegate to each individual and know the task will be completed well. A bad manager tells subordinates exactly what to do and how to do it. Even then the bad manager may not trust the team member to actually accomplish the task. Even if the task is done well, the bad manager might curtly thank the person for the work and then proceed to tell the team member all the things the team member needs to do differently. Changing the goals without buy-in from the team member is a quick avenue towards the failure of the team.


1775 is a good year to demonstrate the difference between good leadership and bad management. In the short term, bad management will often win. In the long term, good leadership will usually win. Leading up to 1775, Great Britain kept raising taxes without giving the colonists any say in how those taxes would be spent. After too many poor decisions, bad management leads to revolts. In the case of the colonists, it led to the slogan “Taxation without Representation” and eventually the American Revolution. People always want a say in their own future. That is still true today, especially on any team. In contrast, George Washington was willing to listen to those around him and give people (most of the time) input into any major decisions. He was good at this. That is one reason why he was asked to be the General of the Army and eventually President of the United States. The bad management of Great Britian, their use of fear, led to the rise of George Washington as a great leader.


Good leaders serve those on their team to develop skills needed to create a better product and efficiently complete any project. A bad manager likes to be in total control and believes they know more about any problem than any member of their team. To keep control, the worst manager often rules through fear. Think of the British in the 1775 example. Both good leaders and bad managers identify the strongest members of their teams. The best leader helps that person develop those skills and talents to best serve their team. The worst manager recognizes those skills and considers the team member a threat to the manager’s control and makes sure that person receives no credit for any of team’s success.

Remember “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A good leader treats all team members with the respect they would like for themselves.

Team Member Responsibility

Team Members are a vital ingredient to the successful completion of any project. As was presented earlier, each person brings their own experiences to any project. A good leader should know each team member’s strengths, capabilities, and growth areas. A leader knows the goals for each project. Members are usually assigned parts of the project for which they excel. If a team member wants to learn new skills, a good leader can provide opportunities on small pieces of a new project. If a team member has done similar assignments before, they may need little help. For new areas, the team member might need a mentor to progress past the member’s comfort zone. The mentor usually is assigned a related area of the project so that they can work naturally together.

The bad managers I have seen appear to think that team members are interchangeable. The worst managers tell each team member what they must do and how to do it, forgetting that each team member has expertise in particular areas and may even have more experience than the manager.

Team members need respect and to be given assignments that will allow them to succeed. Often the assignments are based on the team member’s experience. Occasionally, with team member’s agreement, the team member may be given assignments expanding their field of expertise to help them grow and innovate.

Processes and Tools

All teams that need good leaders. I am most familiar with teams that develop products (and students). Using a company’s preferred set of tools, a good leader develops plans to fully utilize the people available. At Tektronix we used processes that eventually evolved into the Agile Manifesto. One of the most used implementations of the Agile Manifesto is the Scrum Methodology. Tools are aids to complete projects. Tools may vary from sticky notes on a large wall in the office to online project tracking tools. Using a combination of these tools is the most effective. Every time we came into our team area at Tektronix, the sticky notes reminded us of where we were exactly on the development of our project. As reached the release date, it was exciting to watch the last few sticky notes being marked as completed.


Team pulling project to completion with Leaders/Managers deciding the best way to help or control
Leaders/Managers watching team formation and deciding if they are a leader or a manager.

A team consists of a group of individuals pulling a project forward. A leader is a member of that team and works with the team members to move the project forward. The organization chooses who would be best to lead the development of the project. A good leader leads from the front and guides the team to a successful conclusion. A bad manager often sits on the block and tells the team members what to do and where to go. The results of these two types of direction are usually similar to the results from the 1775 example. It is far better having a good leader for an important project than a bad manager. A good leader should always strive to be the best possible leader for the success of any project.

Posted in Leader, Leadership, Manager, Team Member | Comments Off on Good Leaders Guide, Bad Managers Dictate

Teams Provide Platform for Individual Innovation

From my experiences at Tektronix and Hewlett-Packard as a team member and team lead, I find that bouncing ideas around in a team lead to some spectacular individual results.Too often, something said in jest triggers some very creative ideas. Good engineers produce good work, good engineers in teams, produce excellent work.

We often used brainstorming meetings at the beginning of projects.As long as we did not make fun of any comment, the best ideas would slowly rise to the top. Brainstorming is a great tool to start off any project. We then started to identify and prioritize tasks that needed to be completed for this project to go well. Often this was accomplished through an Agile Methology tool. There are an array of tools available, from CDC Cards through the Scrum Methodogy.

Sometimes each task goes smoothly and there is not much channge to the initial plan. As roadblocks and other occurences happen, achieving the next goal can become very difficult. Good communication is a slight plus to any project. Data collection during the process is a vital part of each projects success. Reviewing that data leads to more efficient processes for the current and future projects.

A good example of a project with a team goal and the opportunity to allow individual to shine was the Apollo missions to the moon. The goal was to safely get atronaunts to the moon and then back safely. One of the early divisions of this project was to independently produce the Saturn memory modules and the lunar lander software. These worked spectacularly well.

Teams provide opportunities for members to help each other succeed in ways that were not envisioned at the start of a project. Good engineers produce good work, good engineers in teams, produce excellent work.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Teams Provide Platform for Individual Innovation

The Holy Ghost

At my Church, the members give talks each Sunday. I came across this talk I gave a few years ago when I was going through some old papers. At this stage in my life reading this talk was important to me. It has been an interesting four weeks. W are all on Earth to learn. Sometimes the lessons are harder than others. But with the Holy Ghost we can look forward with hope knowing that there are solutions to any problem.

The Talk

“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man.  And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” 2 Nephi 2:27.  Many parts of my talk will be from 2 Nephi chapter 2, for that is where I am in my reading of the Book of Mormon.  Right now in my life, I feel similar to the way Joseph Smith might have felt when he was fifteen.  Joseph said:  “if any person needed bwisdom from God, I did” (Extracts from the History of Joseph, the Prophet 1:12).   There are many times in my life, I have had these feelings, and each time I felt this way and acted upon the promptings of the Holy Ghost, good results happened.  We may not see those results immediately, but through the Holy Ghost’s promptings we can know we are doing what is right and righteous in God’s sight.  There is a promise that is made that if we lack wisdom and we truly want to understand the will of God in our lives, to read the Book of Mormon.  It is a beautiful companion to The Holy Bible and further testifies of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  Most of my talk will be from 2 Nephi, Lehi’s farewell address to his sons.  Chapter 2 is the portion that addresses Jacob, Lehi’s first-born in the wilderness.  The whole chapter is something I need to read when I need to search for the counsel that Heavenly Father, through the Holy Ghost, would have me have at this time.  The one personage that I need as a close companion in order to understand what is being said in this chapter is the Holy Ghost.  It is the Holy Ghost that truly explains the meaning of all things to us.  If it were not for the Holy Ghost, there would be no personal insights and, for that matter, no inventions in this world.

The Holy Ghost is our primary tool to understanding the will of God in our lives.  He is the primary force to counteract the wiles of the adversary.  But, like any relationship, to fully understand the influences of the Holy Ghost, we need to be in communication with God through daily (constant) prayer and daily reading of the scriptures.  We ask God, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, for the things we need to grow in the ways of the Lord.  The answers to our prayers come from the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  For example, I came home from my job teaching in Greeley at 11:00 PM.  I prayed to receive guidance on what I would say about the Holy Ghost.  I woke up at 3:30 AM with ideas for various parts of this talk.  I would prefer not being up at 3:30 AM, but through the promptings of the Holy Ghost, I knew I would not be able to remember all of the parts I am supposed to remember if I went back to sleep.  The Still Small Voice whispers to us and we need to take advantage of what He says when He says it, or we may lose that opportunity forever.

The Light of Christ (Our Conscious)

We all have the Light of Christ, which tells us if we are doing right.  Some people refer to it as our conscious.  The Holy Ghost is more.  The Holy Ghost can be a guide in our lives as to what we need to be doing to better serve God, ourselves, and our families.  As is mentioned in the scriptures, anyone can be touched by the Holy Ghost when they need to make important decisions.  However, we can receive the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost through membership in Christ’s restored Church.  It is up to us to live worthily so that we can enjoy that privilege.

How many of you have seen the movie Cars?  What was Lightning McQueen’s personality at the first of the movie?  How did he treat his pit crew?  Would you want him for a friend?  I sometimes listen to CDs on the way home from Greeley and was listening to the soundtrack of Cars the other night.  There are many good songs on the CD, but there was one that especially touched me that night.  Do you remember the part of the movie where he starts to see the importance of service to others?  Do you remember the song that played during that scene?  The line I remember most is “When you lose yourself, it is the best thing that ever happens.”  At that point, do you suppose the person that Lightning represents just might be a little in tune with the Holy Ghost?  For the youth, how many of you have received the Holy Ghost as a constant companion or look forward to when you can receive that gift?

What do we gain from service?  What do we gain from listening to the Holy Ghost to guide us to the opportunities we may have to serve others?  King Benjamin stated in Mosiah 2:17 “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”  There is that wisdom word again.  How does the Holy Ghost help us develop wisdom?  I would contend that the only way any of us can gain wisdom is through listening to the Holy Ghost.


Service is important to our eternal salvation.  It is through the Holy Ghost that we are prompted how we best need to serve our God, ourselves, our families, our community, and our Church.  If we do not serve our God and ourselves, through prayer, education, diligence in all that we do, and finding innovative solutions to problems, we cannot serve others.  As we serve, some of us are blessed with fantastic opportunities and careers.  Others may be blessed at times, and still others may struggle their entire lives.  We all know people who fit into all of these categories.  What I admire about the people I know is how they love God and take care of their families, along with using the resources God has given them to serve others.  To build the kingdom, God needs people who love Him with all their heart and mind and are humble enough to be guided by the Holy Ghost. Besides love from each of us, sometimes God needs financial and material resources.  I am personally grateful for those who have such resources and are willing to share generously to build up the kingdom here on earth.  God only expects from each of us what we are capable of giving at any particular time in our lives, no more and no less.  To truly understand what we need to do to serve others, we also must be willing to be served.  There are times in each of our lives that we do need the help of others.  We must all be humble enough, and be guided by the Holy Ghost to understand when those times are and to be able to graciously accept that help when it is needed.  When we know what service is, through the service others have given unto us, we can be better guided by the Holy Ghost to lovingly serve others by discerning their true needs and serve as God would have us serve.

2 Nephi 2:11 says “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.  If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.  Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibilities.”  Our goal is to bring righteousness to pass.  The devil will help us do the opposite.  We each need the Holy Ghost to give opposition to the evil that is around us.  As a side note, have you ever thought about the word devil (da evil)?  Evil is 4/5 of his name.  To avoid evil, we must avoid the devil and cling tight to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.


The promptings of the Holy Ghost are to remind us of whom we are and who redeemed us from the dead.  “And the Messiah cometh in the fullness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall.  And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.”  2 Nephi 2:26.  We have our freedom to act in whatever way we would like.  But we will be accountable to God, through the judgment of Jesus Christ, for all that we do here on earth.  It is the promptings of the Holy Ghost that helps each of us to make wise choices.


In closing, God wants each of us to have joy in our lives.  Jesus Christ is our guide and savior.  He guides each of us, through the Holy Ghost, to do what is right and righteous so that we can live with Heavenly Father again.  It is through the promptings of the Holy Ghost that we can live up to our potential.  Our purpose here on earth can be summed up by 2 Nephi 2:25 “Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy.”  With the Holy Ghost we can obtain the joy that Jesus Christ wants each of us to have.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off on The Holy Ghost

Using Arrays in Java

This article tells users the fundamental uses of Java Arrays. Java, or any other programming language, has similar definitions on how to use arrays. An array is a grouping of the same types of variables into an indexable structure. A one-dimensional array is defined in Java in the form of:

String[] strings = new String[SIZE];

The first “String[]” tells the compiler that a String array is being declared. The “string” is the variable reference for the rest of the program. The “new” allocates memory for the String array. The String[SIZE] tells the compiler to allocated SIZE times the space needed to store addresses to Strings in memory for this array.

When computers were first used, memory was very expensive. It was a bad idea to waste any memory to make programming easier to understand. Thus, the pointer to the first element of an array is the same as the pointer to the array itself. The offset or index of an element of an array is based on the offset from the base of array to its location. Since the first element is at the same address as the array, its offset is zero (0). A simple diagram may be helpful.

Array Address vs First Element Address
Addressing the First Member of the Array

Parallel Arrays

Often arrays are defined one-dimensional (single-dimensional). To have related information easily accessible, parallel arrays were often used. For example, the fifth element of one array was related to the fifth element of a second array in the same way as the second element of the first array is related to the second element of the second array. If the relationship is a brand of a car in the first array to a model of vehicle in the second array an example would be Ford and F-150 in the two arrays at the same index. Another example would be Toyota and Rav 4 at the same index in the two arrays. A Chart might be helpful:

String[] brands = new String[SIZE];
String[] models = new String[SIZE];

To function properly, the two arrays must be of the same size.

Parallel Arrays
Parallel Arrays

Two-Dimensional Array

It may be easier to combine the information into a single two-dimensional array. In the above example, each row would contain the make and model similar to the parallel array in the previous example. So, the first row could contain Toyota and Rav 4 while the second row could contain Ford and F-150. There is no practical limit to the number of rows and columns in a two-dimensional array. An example of a two-dimensional array with five rows and 4 columns follows. The row can be considered addresses to the content of each column. The definition is:

String[][] vehicles = new String[ROWS][COLUMNS];

Where ROWS indicates the number of rows used (in the following example, 5) and COPLUMNS indicates the number of columns used (in the following example, 4).

Two-Dimensional Array
Two-Dimensional Array


Arrays are very helpful. They store information that is interchangeable so that the same code will handle two different elements in the same one-dimensional array or in the same column of a two-dimensional array. I leave with the following video.

Posted in Computers, Java, Software | Tagged , | Comments Off on Using Arrays in Java

Service or Work

The question often comes up in either paid employment, as an entrepreneur, or volunteering, is it better to consider that service or work? To do well, there is quite a bit of work to do. But if we consider the primary purpose is to serve others, we will make different decisions and be more satisfied in what we are accomplishing.

Retail Service

If we work in retail, seeing a happy customer is a delight. Being a clerk can be a boring job if we do not find some means to make the job interesting. Going out of our way to do something special, usually does not take that much time, but can make the customer very happy.

Software Development Service

Writing software is a lonely occupation, unless we consider the effect it may have on a customer. I was in charge of the library interface for the SoftBench Encapsulator when I worked for Hewlett-Packard. It was an interest assignment, but when it became exciting was when I found out that software engineers were using my interface to create an air traffic control system in Zurich, Switzerland. I just wish I became involved earlier, because of the way the team wrote the code it was tied to Zurich’s airport. It was not general enough to implement for any other airport in Europe. It was a beautiful system, but too tied to one airport.

Serving through Education

Teaching is definitely not as lonely as designing and writing software. It has its own challenges. I am primarily here to serve the students and help them learn how to accomplish tasks on their own. Serving students, to me, is giving them the tools to determine the best way to do a task and complete that task in a way that is pleasing to all involved. The internet has been a blessing to teaching good coding practices and developing good algorithms. A major part of teaching software engineering is teaching how to use the tools available, including those on the internet.


If we consider how we can serve those around us, all work becomes more rewarding. Thinking about how what we do impacts others leads to us doing a better job. There is always an opportunity to serve, no matter how we spend our time. Looking for these opportunities makes our life more enjoyable and brings joy to others. We need to look for ways to serve whatever we may do as employee, Entrepeneur, or volunteer.

Posted in Service, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Service or Work

Strive for Understanding Principals and Concepts

When learning something new, always strive to understand the whyPicture of Wayne Cook behind the basic principles and concepts. Too often I see students cram for a test only to forget everything after the test is completed. If you strive for understanding the material and the reasons behind the “facts,” you will be much better prepared for doing the work in the class and for taking any final exam given.

Understanding Computer Science

In my computer science classes, the tests are always related to the material being taught. If you understand the concepts being taught, your tests and your programs will be much better. As your understanding of programming concepts and structures improve, your code improves also. As a side benefit, you will do better on any computer related tests. As you learn to study the concepts and principals of programming, your ability to study other subjects will improve also.

Understanding Basic Mathematics

In mathematic classis, the basics must be totally understood before being able to complete any more complicated problems. Understanding how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, and how to order those functions (PEMDAS) is critical. Understanding things like multiplying is really just multiple additions helps memorize the multiplication table. When these concepts are understood, then additional concepts (like powers) can be added. With powers, the Pythagorean Theory makes much more sense.

Understanding History

Likewise, history makes much more sense when you understand what was really happening at the time the events transpired. History is written by the victors. From my family history, I am a descendent of King John, the signer of the Magna Carta. Anyone who has read Robin Hood, knows how history portrays Prince/King John. Everyone has good and bad characteristics. He was the first king in England to give people more control over their own lives. He also cared about his brother, King Richard. Recent stories show that King Richard was captured and imprisoned in Austria on his way home from the Crusades. John had the choice of leaving him there or raising the money for the ransom (adjusted for inflation, the highest ransom ever paid). In John’s position what would you do. The key is to know as many of the underlying facts as possible.

To understand the United States Declaration of Independence and Constitution, you must understand how the colonists were being treated by the British. There is a specific reason for each the first ten amendments in the “Bill of Rights.” Strive to understand the reason behind each amendment to better understand the importance of each. The best place to start learning about the Constitution is the Federalist Papers.

To do better in any subject, strive to understand the basics of that subject and build from there. Memorizing facts or studying for a test may help in the short run, but truly understanding the principals and base concepts is the best way to understand any subject.

Posted in Attitude, Challenges, Do, Fulfilling Life, Goals, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Strive for Understanding Principals and Concepts

Be Your Best

Remember the old saying: “Be your best self, everyone else is taken.” There is only one you in the world. Find your strengths, and build on them. At Colorado Early Colleges Fort Collins, we use the Clifton Strengths Assessment to help you find your strengths. Front Range Community College uses a few assessments, including Myers-Briggs. 80% of businesses use Myers-Briggs. Truity has a sample exam that is short and helpful. Knowing your own strengths helps you to succeed in school and beyond.

Clifton Strength Results

Clifton Strengths will show you your top five strengths out of the thirty-seven strengths they have identified. Mine are:

  • Responsibility
  • Learner
  • Achiever
  • Strategic
  • Individualistic

What are your strengths?

Myers-Briggs Results

Myers-Briggs is broken into a four axis summary. An example is as follows:

Sample Myers-Briggs

Sample Myers-Briggs result for an ENTJ person

I highly recommend taking either (or both) the Clifton Strengths Assessment and the Myers-Briggs Assessment. Use the information gained to make better decisions about your future. While you are in school, especially middle school and high school, explore different subjects. You will not love everything you try, so find out what you do like. If you find something you like and are able to find a good paying job in that area, then “you will never have to work a day in your life, because you are doing what you love.”

Help Yourself by Helping Others

One of the best ways to learn is to help others with a subject you would like to master. Teaching someone else forces you to know the material. Learning the material gives you a good amount of knowledge about any subject. When you have to explain it to someone else, it becomes a part of you and helps you master that subject. There may be a time when you do not know the answer. In that case, always A.S.K.


Whatever you decide to do, be your best. Discover your talents. Some talents you may not realize that you have and those are the fun ones to discover and explore. Clifton Strengths tell you where your native strengths reside. Your discovered talents usually relate to your Clifton Strengths. Using your Clifton Strengths as a guide to where to search for hidden talents is very helpful, it may speed up the search for your talents and help you more quickly find an occupation you would enjoy.

Posted in Do, Goals, Growth, Planning, Self-Worth, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Be Your Best

Guam Vocational Technical High School Philosophy

I was a part of a group that developed the Guam Vocational Technical High School (GVTHS) philosophy document. The committee consisted of administrators and teachers to develop the best vocational and technical educational opportunities for our students. George Washington High School, where I taught, worked closely with GVTHS. The year of the development was 1975. At the time I taught Computer Science and was head of the textbook selection committee for the Guam public schools.

Logo for George Washington High School (also home to the Warriors, each high school had two teams)


The four authors are Dave Applegate, Wayne Cook, Carl Marking, and Frank Russell. S. Leon Guerrero was the Principal for GVTHS.

Please remember that this was written in 1975 and the generic pronoun at that time for all students was he, him, and his. These terms are used in this document.

It appears that GVTHS has been succeeded by Career Tech High Academy Charter School.

Guam Academy Charter School (new version of GVTHS – built for typhoons)


The philosophy of Guam Vocational Technical High School is broad enough to cover the scope of students and staff potential and at the same time is specific enough to offer a sense of direction to those people that will be utilizing it as a guide.

In the broadest sense the philosophy encompasses and is formulated upon the concept of change and that we are in a world of change and that the only permanence in education and the world is change. GVTHS will provide a vocational-technical and academic program which is tied to the world of tomorrow. The tie between the security of the past, the reality of the present, and the challenges of tomorrow must be the combined cohesion of staff and student potential abilities, the physical plant and curriculum, and the communities’ present and projected needs.

To that end the more specific parameters of the GVTHS philosophy would be numerated as follows:

  1. Staff development through aggressive pursuit of Federal and local funds relating to in-service training.
  2. School and industry validation of curriculum through intensive utilization of area, school, and state advisory groups.
  3. Acquisition of vocationally qualified staff through industry and school established criteria.
  4. Acquisition of the best supplies, equipment, and facilities available under practical economic guidelines, through staff involvement.
  5. High emphasis on attitudinal development necessary to acquire, retain, and progress in the vocation.
  6. Emphasis in the development of trade language, manual, and academic skills necessary to progress in the career pursuit.
  7. High priority for area related work experience (i.e. independent work experience, etc.) as soon as is practical.
  8. Aggressive pursuit of a placement and follow-up program to guide the alteration of present class programs and institution of new programs.
  9. Active support of character building programs such as VICA and DECA by utilization of staff sponsorship.
  10. Development of a consumer education and safety and first aid program required of all students.
  11. An aggressive student screening program, using the latest testing material and methods, to assure high quality students place in their most appropriate areas.
  12. Create an awareness in each student of his inherent and alterable abilities and limitations.
  13. Develop and maintain a current broad enough academic program to allow student to pursue further education.

Metric System

At this time I was teaching a Physics basic measurements system class. After having the students name the various units of measurement for length of each system, I asked them to convert within that system from one unit to the next. After this exercise, all the students chose to use the Metric System. Most students did not know many yards were in a mile. Some knew how many feet were in a mile and converted. Following is the proposed letter from the Principal of GVTHS to promote the use of the metric system in all classes.

As Principal of Guam Vocational Technical High Schoo, I recognize the growing importance of our students fully understanding and being able to apply the concepts of the metric system. I am also aware of the impact of the metric system on all students. Therefore, I full endorse this proposal as it will better prepare our vocational students for the world of work, and the materials developed as a result of this project will be transferable to other schools and students.

S. Leon Guerrero, Principal Guam Vocation Technical High School

Meeting records for the above mentioned task force

Posted in Technical | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Guam Vocational Technical High School Philosophy

Mondays are Beautiful

Each work and school week starts with a Monday. It is the opportunity to start something new. A video my Michael Brown Take Monday Down! inspired me to write this article, and a quote by Will Linssen of the Institute of Coaching that I heard at Church today:

New challenges brings growth, but growth is always built on current knowledge and/or major inspiration. Even major inspiration often comes by understanding what has been accomplished before. The invention of Calculus was based on discovered mathematical concepts that led to the development of Calculus independently in England – Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) and Europe – Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716). Each contributed important concepts. A brief history of Calculus is available which gives important moments in the development of Calculus.

If we step too far away from what we know, it can be a disaster. Forcing ourselves out of our comfort zone, based on what we have learned and discovered, we can enter our Growth Zone and achieve great accomplishments. The Disaster Zone can be a quite scary place. Disasters, like being put in a country with no knowledge of the language and customs, are recoverable with great effort. As long as we physically survive we can move the results into our Growth Zone. No matter how difficult, we can eventually succeed.

Comfort -> Growth vs Disaster

Zones of Growth and Comfort

I believe growth comes when a person pushes the boundaries of their comfort zone. In teaching a computer language, the basics must be taught first. All students learn to write “Hello World!” before learning more complicated programs. By the end of the first class in either Java or C++, the student can write some complicated programs well. A major project is always assigned at the end of each class. At this point the students know the basics of the language well and need to learn how to organize and use revision control to develop a complicated and good project.

The reason I said that Mondays are beautiful is because Mondays are the start of something new. I start a new lesson each Monday and I am able to learn as much from students as they learn from me. If I can instill in students a love for learning and a willingness to enlarge their comfort zone they will be successful in life. And that is the greatest gift any teacher can give to their students.

Posted in Attitude, Becoming, Comfort, Comfort Zone, Disaster Zone, Growth, Growth Zone, Monday, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Mondays are Beautiful

To Teach Well, Learn from Students

While teaching my beginning Java class this morning, I again realized how important it is to learn from students. For a student, transitioning from thinking about procedural programs to developing code using Object-Oriented design is a tremendous paradigm shift. It is not always an easy one. I am always looking for better ways to explain this shift.

In class, the students are learning about inheritance, with a super (parent) class and a sub (child) class. One student was having some difficulties grasping this change, but he asks great questions. Questions are an important part of learning. As a side note, I always tell my students that the only dumb question is the question that is not asked. From my experience, a student will be thinking about that question until it is answered. This hinders understanding what is being discussed in the class. So it is better for my students to ask a question when they have it instead of waiting for an “appropriate” time to ask that question.

On the concept of inheritance, sub classes, and super classes, one student came up with the idea that a sub class is a mutation of the super class, and called it a mutant. This is an interesting concept, in that the subclass can be considered an altered version of the super class. For example, if you think of a rectangle it has two sets of parallel sides, each pair having a specific length. A square is a rectangle with all sides the same length. Most of the functions or methods in the rectangle can be used by the square sub class. The only restriction for the square is that all sides have to be the same length. A square is just a changed or mutated version of a rectangle. Once this student saw this, he better understood the concepts of inheritance, super classes, and sub classes. A sub class is just a mutant of a super class. This is a little different way to think of inheritance, but if it works that is great.

There are sometimes tough questions, to which I do not immediately know the answer. If I can help the student create methods to find the answer, we both learn and benefit. Students will not be in my class forever, so learning the tools to find the answer is important. In helping the students do this, I continue to learn new techniques and facts myself. We all benefit. When you have a question, then A.S.K.

In education, learning is important for all involved. To teach well, I need to learn from my students. This is just as important as my students learning from me.

Posted in Computers, Java, Object-Oriented Programs, Software | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on To Teach Well, Learn from Students