SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Which is harder: improving a slacker’s performance or getting a high-performer promoted?

  • Getting a slacker to improve is more difficult: 70%
  • Finding a way to get a high-performer promoted is harder: 30%

Slackers Rule. Finding that slacker’s motivation is a tricky task. They have the skills but they’re simply unwilling to apply them. It’s inherently a motivation challenge and your job as their leader is to find a way to light their fire. First, talk with them. Get them to explain why they’re not excited by their work. You’d be amazed at what they’ll share. Consider changing their role, changing incentives, or eliminating dissatisfiers that prevent them from applying themselves. If you can unlock their motivation, you should see instant productivity improvements.…

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Leading connected classrooms has become the rallying cry in many schools. There is a desire for all students to learn by interacting with people, place and planet, but this doesn’t always play well with legacy systems and desires to focus on test scores in schools. For schools that can reshape their success metrics, there is a more preferable road forward. Here are five key elements for building connected classrooms:

  1. Student voice. The best schools are amplifying student voice through publishing, creating and including students in important decisions.
  2. Connected schools have partnerships in the community and beyond.
  3. Service learning. Connected classrooms are truly weaving together their head, hands, and heart with their community and beyond.
  4. Connected classrooms are finding a way to create, make, and design everyday around real, authentic problems.
  5. Students as assets. Connected classrooms and communities see their students as assets, not liabilities. This means that they accept that some of the best ideas will come from the young bright minds throughout the community.
  6. (read more…)

High school students in a science classroom.

SmartBlog on Education will shine a light on back-to-school teaching and learning trends during July. In this blog post, education leader Fred Ende shares how an interactive professional development summit revealed regional trends and future initiatives.

As the temperature warms here in the Northeast, it’s a great time to talk about what’s heating up regarding teaching and learning for next year. After all, the Staples and Office Depot commercials have already started, so whether we’re ready or not, the 2015-16 school year is almost here.

In our region, we’ve spent the last few years focused on changes brought along by the Common Core State Standards — or Common Core Learning Standards as they’re called in New York — and the implications of changes to our Annual Professional Performance Review system, which are set to change again this coming year, but we’ll save that for another post. As these initiatives have gone from “new” to “newer” to more “routine,” districts in our section of the state have had the opportunity to move toward focusing more and more on their own personal initiatives.…

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I recently watched a high school state track and field championship. At the beginning of the evening, the excitement among the athletes was palpable. Each athlete and team had such determination and grit — but, of course, not all of them were going to win their races or the meet.

At the end of the evening, I watched as one coach brought his female and male athletes together. Some had won their events, others had placed, and others did not. The young women and men did not win their overall championships, though they came in second and third, respectively.

It was clear they had wanted to do better. The coach rallied his team in the middle of the track, with their arms linked around one another, and talked about their journey through the season. He celebrated their accomplishments as individuals and as a team. After tears, hugs and laughter, the team walked away from this impressive display of coaching excited to train over the summer and head into the next season.…

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Food retailers, wholesalers, suppliers and other food retail industry members met in Chicago to network, learn and engage at FMI Connect. We talked to Leslie G. Sarasin, FMI president and CEO, about the highlights from the show, which focused on catering to customers while improving operations and looking toward the future of the food retail industry.

What were the top three key takeaways from FMI Connect for members of the food retail industry?

FMI Connect focused on the imperatives of keeping ahead of the accelerating pace of change in food retail. Some of the catalysts driving this change include intense competition from new formats, the need for operational excellence, including speed to market, and meeting consumer expectations for transparency and customization — all of which can be enabled by technology. As I walked the Expo floor with our executive committee leadership, sat in on educational sessions and eavesdropped on hallway conversations, three themes were most apparent:

  1. Our customers may not always be right…but they’re never wrong.
  2. (read more…)