Archive for September, 2009

How to Write a Job Application Letter.

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Tips on how to write an effective cover letter to apply for a job.

  1. Take the time to write a targeted cover letter for each employer. This means customizing each cover letter you write, so it specifically relates your skills to the job you are applying for;
  2. State why you are writing, indicating your interest in the job;
  3. State where you learned of the position and the title of the position you are applying for. This way the person reading your cover letter will know which job you are interested in;
  4. Explain the reasons for your interest in the organization. Let the cover letter reviewer know why you are interested in the company;
  5. Express your enthusiasm for the job;
  6. Identify your most relevant skills and experiences. Don’t just duplicate your resume. Rather, include the skills that most match the job;
  7. Refer to the qualifications for the position and illustrate how your abilities relate;
  8. Communicate your interest, motivation, and strengths;
  9. Emphasize your achievements;
  10. Indicate how you will follow-up, typically with a phone call or an email. Thank the company for their consideration .


  1. Avoid cliches and meaningless or wordy expressions;
  2. Your cover letter should complement, not duplicate your resume;
  3. Your cover letter is often the first contact with an employer, make sure it creates a good impression;
  4. Take the time to target your cover letter to the job you are applying for.

What You Need:

  • Word processing software;
  • Spell checker and grammar checker;
  • Cover letter samples to review.

By Alison Doyle.

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Job Application Letter

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Sample Job Application Letter



Mr. Geogre Gilhooley,

XYZ Company,

87 Delaware Road,

Hatfield, CA08065.

088-555 5555.

Dear Mr. Gilhooley,

I am writing to apply for the programmer position advertised in the ‘Times Union‘.  As requested, I am enclosing a completed job application, my certification, my resume and three references.

The opportunity presented in this listing is very interesting, and I believe that my strong technical experience and education will make me a very competitive candidate for this position. The key strengths I possess for success in this position include:

  • I have successfully designed, developed, and supported live use applications;
  • I strive for continued excellence;
  • I provide exceptional contributions to customer service for all customers.

With a B.S degree in Computer Programming, I have a full understanding of the full life cycle of a software development project. I also have experience in learning and excelling at new technologies as needed.

Please see my resume for additional information on my experience.

I can be reached anytime via my cell phone: 088-555 5555. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you about this employment opportunity.




By Alison.

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A Logical Enough Question:

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

On the first day of College, the Dean addressed the students, pointing out some of the rules:

“The female dormitory will be out of bounds for all male students; and the male dormitory to the female students.  Anybody caught breaking this rule will be fined RM20.00 the first time.

He continued, “Anybody caught breaking this rule the second time will be fined RM60.00. Being caught a third time will cost you a fine of RM180.00. Are there any questions?”

At this point, a male student in the crowd inquired: “How much for a season pass?”

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Setting Them Up for Success Checklist.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Learn how to be inclusive in your practice. Are you setting your students up for success? Try this checklist to see where your areas of strengths and weaknesses are.

  1. …….. Are students able to cope with the assigned tasks?
  2. …….. Do you give instructions / directions at his / her level of need?
  3. …….. Have you considered the individual’s learning style?
  4. …….. Are your objectives, routines and rules clearly understood by the students?
  5. …….. Are your activities engaging and motivating for your students?
  6. …….. Are your rules / routines posted clearly and stated positively?
  7. …….. Do you have a variety of rewards / consequences that are well known by your students?
  8. …….. Do you have smooth transitions from one subject to another and when students return from recess ;
  9. …….. Do you promote self – esteem and confidence?
  10. …….  Do you ensure you have your student’s attention before starting? Do you pause when somebody interrupts?
  11. …….. Do you always demonstrate respect for your students and value their contributions?
  12. …….  Do you remember to have fun with your students and provide humour when the opportunity presents itself?

If you can answer yes to these questions, your discipline plan will be one of success. If you answered no to items on this list – look toward improving that specific area.

By Sue Watson.

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Practical Strategies For The Classroom.

Monday, September 28th, 2009

There are many practical strategies that are effective in the classroom. It is up to the classroom and special education teacher to ensure that appropriate strategies are being used in the classroom to assist individual learning styles and provide success to all students with special needs. It is recommended that a multi-modal approach be used, visual, auditory, kinetics and tactile for optimum success.

Classroom Environment

  • Provide the use of a study carrel when necessary;
  • Seat student in area free from distractions;
  • Eliminate all unnecessary materials from student desk to reduce distractions;
  • Use a checklist to help student get organized;
  • Keep an extra supply of pencils, pens, books and paper in the classroom;
  • You may have to allow the student frequent breaks;
  • Have an agreed upon cue for student to leave the classroom;
  • Reduce visual distractions in the classroom.

Time Management and Transitions

  • Space short work periods with breaks;
  • Provide additional time to complete assignment;
  • Allow extra time for homework completion;
  • Inform student with several reminders, several minutes apart, before changing from one activity to the next;
  • Reduce amount of work from usual assignment;
  • Provide a specific place for turning in assignments.

Presentation of Materials

  • Modify expectations based on students needs;
  • Break assignments into segments of shorter tasks;
  • Give alternative assignments rather than long written assignments;
  • Provide a model of end product;
  • Provide written and verbal direction with visuals if possible;
  • Break long assignments into small sequential steps, monitoring each step;
  • Highlight to alert student attention to key points within the written direction of the assignment;
  • Check that all homework assignments are written correctly in some kind of an agenda / homework book. Sign it and have parents sign it as well;
  • Number and sequence steps in a task;
  • Provide outlines, study guides, copies of overhead notes;
  • Explain learning expectations to the student before beginning a lesson;
  • Make sure you have the students attention before beginning a lesson;
  • Allow for student to use tape recorders, computers, calculators and dictation to obtain and retain assignment success;
  • Allow oral administration of test;
  • Limit the number of concepts presented at one time;
  • Provide incentive for beginning and completing material.

Assignment, Grading and Testing

  • Provide a quiet setting for test taking, allow tests to be scribed if necessary and allowing for oral responses;
  • Exempt student from district wide testing if possible;
  • Divide test into small sections;
  • Grade spelling separately from content;
  • Allow as much time as needed to complete;
  • Avoid time test;
  • Change percentage of work required for passing grade;
  • Permit retaking the test;
  • Provide monitored breaks from test;


  • Avoid confrontations and power struggles;
  • Provide an appropriate peer role model;
  • Modify rules that may discriminate against student with neurological disorder;
  • Develop a system or code that will let the student know when behaviour is not appropriate;
  • Ignore attention seeking behaviours that are not disruptive to the classroom;
  • Arrange a designated safe place that student can go to;
  • Develop a code of conduct for the classroom and visually display it in an appropriate place where all students can see it,review it frequently;
  • Develop a behaviour intervention plan that is realistic and easily applied;
  • Provide  immediate reinforcers and feedback.

Delivering an academic programme to a room full of unique students is certainly a challenge. Implementing some of the listed strategies will provide a comfortable learning place for all students regardless of their academic abilities.

By Sue Watson.

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Monday, September 28th, 2009

A teacher said to her little student Suzy:

“Punctuate the following sentence:  Fun Fun Fun Worry Worry Worry”

Little Suzy thought for a moment and began her reply:

“Let see ….Fun period ….. Fun period …… Fun no period ….worry  worry  worry!”

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How to Dress for an Interview

Monday, September 28th, 2009

An article in U.S.A. Today spoke about candidates for jobs wearing jeans, purple sweat suits, and spike heels or sneakers. Other applicants weren’t afraid to show pierced body parts and spiked hair. Still others chewed gum or showed up in rumpled clothes or with pants falling down. One recruiter even told a candidate with his trousers down below his hips, to “Pull your pants up.” According to the article, the outlandish dress costs some candidates the job.

Dress Your Best When Interviewing

It does make sense to dress your best for the interview, regardless of the dress code at the organization. It is much better to be over dressed then under dressed (or undressed).

The first impression you make on a potential employer is the most important one. The first judgment an interviewer make is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing. That’s why its always important to dress professionally for a job interview, even if the work environment is casual.

What’s the appropriate dress code for an interview? You’ll want that first impression to be not just a good one, but, a great one.  The candidate dressed in a suit and tie is going to make a much better impression than the candidate dressed in scruffy jeans and a t-shirt.

Here’s a quick look at the basics:

Women’s Interview Attire:

  • Solid colour, conservative suit;
  • Coordinated Blouse;
  • Moderate shoes;
  • Limited jewelry (no dangling earrings or arms full of bracelets);
  • Neat, professional hairstyle;
  • Tan or light hosiery;
  • Sparse make-up and perfume;
  • Manicured nails;
  • Portfolio or briefcase.

Men’s Interview Attire:

  • Solid colour, conservative suit;
  • White long sleeve shirt;
  • Conservative tie;
  • Dark socks, professional shoes;
  • Very limited jewelry;
  • Neat, professional hairstyle;
  • Go easy on the aftershave;
  • Neatly trimmed nails;
  • Portfolio or briefcase.

What NOT to Bring to the Interview:

  • Cell phone;
  • Food / drinks.

Interview Attire Tips:

  • Before even think about going on an interview, make sure you have appropriate interview attire and everything fits correctly;
  • Get your clothes ready the night before, so you don’t have to spend time getting them ready on the day of the interview;
  • If your clothes are dry clean only, take them to the cleaners after an interview, so they are ready for next time;
  • Polish your shoes;

What NOT to Wear on a Job Interview:

  • Flip-flops or sneakers;
  • Underwear (bras, bra-straps, briefs, etc) that is visible. Don’t wear any underwear that shows – even if your bra straps match your top;
  • Shorts;
  • Jeans;
  • Skirts that are too short;
  • Pants that are too low-rise or too tight;
  • Blouses that are too low-cut or too short – don’t show your cleavage or your belly.

By Alison Doyle.

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12 Easy Ways to Bring Fun Back to Work.

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Especially in these trying times, a little fun can go a long way – even in the workplace! When we lighten up, we reduce stress, break down barriers, open the way to more dialogue, and gain a renewed sense of hope.

The fact is, a little fun can go a long way. When we lighten up, we reduce stress, break down barriers, open the way to more dialogue, and gain a renewed sense of hope. That’s just what we need during trying times like these. It can work for us, as long as were willing to take positive action.

Try these fun ideas:

  1. Get in the game: Stock your break room or lunch area with favourite games like Scrabble, Uno, Pictionary, chess, checkers, and whatever else people want to bring from home. That’s all you need to do — the play will unfold spontaneously.
  2. Let off some steam: If you have outdoor space where people can congregate, get a big plastic bin and fill it with badminton gear, volleyball gear, sepak takraw gear, netball gear, and whatever else will get folks moving during break time.
  3. Hit the (indoor) links: Turn a carpeted section of your workplace into a nine-hole miniature golf course. Organize a tournament that gets everyone involved – for putting only; no indoor chip shots!
  4. Cook up some fun:  Hold a pie-baking contest, or a cookie bake-off, etc. Let everyone be a judge, having them rate each of their samples on a secret 1 – to – 5 scale.
  5. Start looking: Orchestrate a workplace scavenger hunt. Hide some low-cost treasures (cookies, movie tickets, coupons, etc) before everyone arrives at work, then use break time to set the search in motion.
  6. Be of service: Contact a local nonprofit, and team up with colleagues to help on a service project. This would be after hours, of course, but teaming up outside of work is a great way to build morale.
  7. Gather a group: Cobble together some of your colleagues around a specific interest area. Perhaps you’re a reader who wants to start a book group; or a bicyclist who wants a team of weekend riders; or a musician who wants to start a band. Put out the call and see who answers.
  8. Showcase that talent: Why not produce your own Workplace Idol? It doesn’t have to be fancy. Talk it up, have people sign up, arrange for a space, and let the fun begin.
  9. Cheer on the home team: Attend a local sports event with your co-workers. It doesn’t matter what it is: baseball, football, basketball, cricket, whatever. You’ll build your own sense of team by having fun outside of work.
  10. Take time to celebrate: If you have a dozen people in your work area, you can justify having 12 parties a year. Make the most of those birthdays, honoring people on their big day and using the celebration to express appreciation for their hard work.
  11. Puzzle it out: Post a writing board at the entrance to your area, and mark it up at the start of each day with trivia question or puzzle that will get people thinking and talking. The next day, write down yesterday’s answer — along with a new question  or puzzle.
  12. Bake with a purpose: Have people unleash their inner chef, cooking up their best stuff for a workplace bake sale and fundraiser. Donate all the dough to a needy group in your community.

By Tom Terez.

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Strategies for Inspiring Workplace Collaboration.

Friday, September 25th, 2009

The collaboration that is so critical to organizations is being blocked by knowledge-hoarding silo structures and the accompany “silo mentality” that has become synonymous with power struggles, lack of cooperation, and loss of productivity.

So what’s to be done? Here, from A to Z, are some of the most successful strategies to tear down silos, reduce conflicts, and increase collaboration.

A.  Find ways to ACKNOWLEDGE collaborative contributors. Recognize and promote people people who learn, teach and share. And penalize those who do not. In all best-practices companies, those hoarding knowledge and failing to build on ideas of others face visible and serious career consequences. In those top companies, employees who share knowledge, teach, mentor, and work across departmental boundaries are recognized and rewarded.

B.  Watch your BODY LANGUAGE.  All leaders express enthusiasm, warmth, and confidence — as well as arrogance, indifference, and displeasure through their expressions, gestures, touch and use of space. If leaders want to be perceived as credible and collaborative, they need to make sure that their verbal messages are supported (not sabotaged) by their nonverbal signals.

C.  Focus on the the CUSTOMER. Nothing is more important in an organization – whether it’s a for-profit company or a non – profit group – than staying close to the end user of the service or product you offer and encouraging feedback and two – way dialogue. When you build collaborative relationships with your customers, you give them power and investment in your organization’s success.

D.  DIVERSITY is crucial to harnessing the full power of collaboration. Group members who think alike or are trained in similar disciplines with similar knowledge bases run the risk of becoming insular in their ideas. Instead of exploring alternatives, a confirmation bias takes over and members tend to reinforce one another’s predisposition. Diversity causes people to consider perspectives and possibilities that would otherwise be ignored.

E.  ELIMINATE the barriers to a free flow of ideas. Everyone has knowledge that is important to someone else, and you never know whose input is going to become an essential part of the solution. When insights and opinions are ridiculed, criticized or ignored, people feel threatened and “punished” for contributing. They typically react by withdrawing from the conversation. Conversely, when people are free to ask “dumb” questions, challenge the status quo, and offer novel–even bizarre– suggestions, then sharing knowledge becomes a collaborative process of blending diverse opinion, expertise and perspectives.

F.  To enhance collaboration, analyze and learn from FAILURE. Leading innovators like Apple see their failures as being as insightful as their successes. The goal is not to eliminate all errors, but to analyze mistakes in order to create systems that more quickly detect and correct mistakes before they became fatal

G. Collaboration takes GUIDANCE by managers who know how to harness the energies and talents of others while keeping their own egos in check. Successful organizations require leaders at all levels who manage through positive influence and inclusion rather than by position.

H. Eliminate  HOARDING by challenging the “knowledge is power” attitude. Knowledge is no longer a commodity like gold, which holds (or increases) it’s worth over time. It’s more like milk – fluid, evolving, and stamped with an expiration date. And, by the way, there is nothing less powerful than hanging on to knowledge whose time has expired.

I. Focus on INNOVATION. Creativity is triggered by a cross-pollination of ideas. It is in the combination and collision of ideas that creative breakthroughs most often occur. When an organization focuses on innovation, it does so by bringing together people with different backgrounds, perspectives, and expertise – breaking down barriers and silos in the process.

J.  JOIN the social media revolution and utilize Web 2.0 technologies – tools and processes that allow people to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives in order to collaborate and to self-organize.

K. Realize that there are  two kinds of  KNOWLEDGE in your organization: Explicit knowledge can be  transferrred in a document or entered in a database. Tacit knowledge needs a conversation, a story, a relationship. Make sure you are developing strategies to capture both.

L.  LEADERS at all levels of an organization can nurture collaboration within their own work group or staff. And most successful of these leaders do so by taking the time and effort necessary to make people feel safe and valued. They emphasize people’s strengths while encouraging the sharing of mistakes and lessons learned. They set clear expectations for outcomes and clarify individual roles. They help all members recognize what each of them brings to the team. They model openness, vulnerability and honesty. They tell stories of group successes and personal challenges. And most of all, they encourage and respect everyone’s contribution.

M.  MIX it up by rotating personnel in various jobs and departments around the organization, by creating cross- functional teams, and by inviting managers from other areas of the organization to attend (or lead) your team meetings.

N.  Employees with multiple NETWORKS throughout the organization facilitate collaboration. You can accelerate the flow of knowledge and information across boundaries by encouraging workplace relationships and communities.

O. Insist on OPEN and transparent communication. In an organization, the way information is handled determines whether it becomes an obstacle to or an enabler of collaboration. Employees today need access to information at any time. From any place.

P.  Collaboration is a PARTNERSHIP. As one savvy leader put it,  “To make collaboration work, you have got to treat people the way you want to be treated. It’s pretty simple, really. Treat all employees as your partners, because they are. ”

Q.  Ask the right QUESTIONS. At the  beginning of a project, ask: What information / knowledge do we need? Who are the experts? Who in the organization has done this before – do we have this on a database? Who else will need to know what we learn? How do we plan to share/hand off what we learn?

R. The success of any organization or team – its creativity, productivity, and effectiveness – hinges on the strength of the RELATIONSHIPS of its members. Collaboration is enhanced when employees get to know one another as individuals. So when you hold off-site retreats, organization-wide celebrations or workplace events, be sure to provide opportunities for “social” time and personal relationships. Taking time to build this “social capital” at the beginning of a project will also increase the effectiveness of a team later on.

S. Collaboration is communicated best through STORIES - of successes, failures, opportunities, challenges, and knowledge accumulated through experience. Find those stories throughout your organization. Record them. Share them.

T.  TRUST is the foundation for collaboration. It is the conduct through which knowledge flows. Without trust, an organization loses its emotional “glue”. In a culture of suspicion people withhold information, hide behind psychological walls, and withdraw from participation. If you want to create a networked organization, the first and most crucial step is to build a culture of trust.

U.  Combating silo mentality requires UNIFYING goals. Business unit leaders must understand the overarching goals of the total organization ad the importance of working in concert with other areas to achieve those crucial strategic objectives.

V. The incentive to collaborate is the VALUE of the exchange to both the organization and the individual. When the assets and benefits of productive collaboration are made visible, silos begin to break down.

W.  Your WORKPLACE layout encourages or impedes the way the organization communicates. To facilitate knowledge sharing, you need to create environments that stimulate both arranged and chance encounters. Attractive break-out areas, coffee bars, comfortable cafeteria chairs, even wide landings on staircases – all of  these increase the likelihood that employees will meet and linger to talk.

X.  Take a tip from XEROX. It discovered that real learning doesn’t take place in the classroom – or in any formal setting. In fact, people were found to learn more from comparing experiences in the hallways than from reading the company’s official manuals, going online to a knowledge repository , or attending training sessions.

Y. Collaboration is crucial for YOUR success. We have witness in the death of “The Lone Ranger” leadership model, where one person comes in with all the answers to save the day. We now know that no leader, regardless of how brilliant and talented, is smarter than the collective genius of the workforce.

Z.  Forget about reaching the ZENITH. Collaborative cultures are learning cultures – and knowledge sharing is an ongoing process, not an end point.

by Carol Kinsay Goman, Ph. D.

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Enjoyable Conversations: Learn the Basic Steps.

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Conversation can sometimes seem infinitely complex with all of its nuances. But its basic steps are pretty simple. Those who aren’t competent in conversing usually lack skills in at least one of these steps, and usually more than one. There are:

  1. Topics you talk about;
  2. How you talk about them;
  3. Questions you ask;
  4. How you listen.

1.  Topics you talk about:

Ideally, the topics you introduce should be interesting to your talk-partner(s). Such is not often the case. One way to show interest in others is to talk about what concerns or interest them.

Sports-oriented folks love to talk sports; business people, business; political  wonks, politics; mothers, their children. But due to their passionate interest in their own topics, they often forget that many others are not similarly interested.

Therefore, this simple step is to find topics of mutual interest and talk about those.

2.  How you talk about them:

In ordinary social conversation, you want others to be able to read you so that your bodily and vocal expression enhances the meaning of your words.

Working on your skills to share anecdotes and tell stories will move you closer to excellence. Most people love stories when they are told well.

Therefore, this simple step includes adding vitality and expressiveness to your talk.

3.  Questions you ask:

Many conversers tend mainly to ask closed questions, most of the “Yes” or “No” type. For example, “Did you enjoy the movie?” A better question would be “What did you enjoy about the movie?” So that you  provide your partner with many options, including “I didn’t enjoy it at all. I thought the lead actor was unconvincing.”

Having at least a few question arrows in your quiver will help you to conversational excellence. These would not only closed questions, but also open questions that you can think of as What” and “How” questions. Examples: “What did you do then?” and “What happened?” or “How did you solve that problem?‘ and “How did you feel after you took the medicine?”

If” questions are also helpful to get a person thinking, such as “If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?” and “If I gave you two days off work, would that help?”

Indirect questions are another useful arrows in your quiver. Examples: “I wonder if you’re still thinking about going back to school” and “I’m puzzled about how you manage to remember everybody’s name.”

So, this simple steps asks you to increase the variety of questions you employ, and to use them appropriately.

4.  How you listen

The most frequent complaint I hear about conversation styles is “poor listening“.  Instances of this include not paying attention or giving only split attention, interrupting others, mental rehearsal of what you’ll say next, and not being responsive (flat or deadpan expression).

Good listening must include both intention to understand and attention to what is said. An effective listener is engaged with the talker and shows it. An effective listener would be able to reproduce at least the gist of what the talk said. The talker is validated by feeling listened to.

This simple step requires you to let go of your preoccupations and, when listening, to give your full attention to others.

The above steps are simple — easy to understand. However, they are not necessarily easy because it takes practice to install them and to eliminate weak habits. Doing so will take a little time, but it will cost you nothing, and the results will make the practice well worth your effort.

By Loren Ekroth, Ph.D

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