techdirections - April 2017

Professional Development

Quentin swan 2017-03-31 01:34:10

Three Ways To Kill Your Program and Put Yourself Out Of Work Simultaneously When you consider the totality of how you and your automotive program are perceived, research suggests some very interesting facts that can help us survive and grow. These facts apply to the automotive repair industry and are directly aimed at our automotive education programs. UCLA studies have shown that WHAT YOU SAY counts for 7 percent of how you are perceived. That is interesting when you consider that HOW YOU SAY IT counts for 38% of the perception scale. So be careful of not only what you say, but also how you say it. Be aware of your tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions. On the 100% perception scale there is 55% left once you subtract the two items mentioned above. The 55% is based on what is seen in three distinct areas of your program. These are all areas that we can do something about. These potential “program killers” apply to all industrial and vocational programs, so be thinking about how they apply to your program. Program Killer #1 is forgetting that the moment the customer comes to your lab area they start to develop an opinion as to whether or not they have made the right decision in taking your class. Who are your customers by the way? Students, administrators, other teachers, parents, business people, and anybody else that walks in the door or gate. You see, you only have one opportunity to make a first impression and that is based on what realtors call “curb appeal.” Curb appeal is based on what is seen when we walk into your program area. Is the parking area clean and neat or does it look like an unorganized junk heap? Are there stacks of stuff? Is the lab area clean? Is there a place for everything and everything in its place? Has the equipment been cleaned and polished lately? Are the bench tops clear and clean? How long since the windows have been washed? This list can go on forever but you get the idea. In order to generate a positive impression, you need to have a clean, litter-free parking and storage area, and a facility that has the appearance of a busy professional classroom. A busy professional classroom breeds confidence and confidence builds enrollment. Program Killer #2 is forgetting the importance of our personal appearance. Research at IBM has shown that in the eye of the customer a white shirt and tie represents both honesty and intelligence. You should also greet your customers promptly and courteously, be well groomed, wear clean clothing (white shirt), and, believe it or not, smile. Other things that help in this regard are to wear your ASE patches. Also display your professional certificates in a location where all that come into your room can see them. The patches and certificates denote professional authenticity and breed confidence. Note that research at Yale University shows that people overwhelmingly follow the suggestions of those in a professional uniform. Ask yourself what uniform is worn by your doctor, dentist, banker, or lawyer. Do you or the members of your family argue with these professionals or do you listen and take their advice and follow their directions? Program Killer #3 is the most visual and influential area of your facility—your classroom. What do you see in a professional’s waiting room? Doctors, dentists, lawyers, and accountants all post their diplomas on the wall. Please understand that these diplomas are not there to be read, they are there to build your confidence in them as a professional. You see they (doctors, lawyers, etc.) realize that since the mind can’t edit what goes through the eye, all that the customer has to do is SEE the documents in order to be influenced in a positive way. What items can we post? How about our diplomas, ASE certifications, ASC Membership certificates or plaques, organizational membership certificates such as NACAT or EPT, drug free workplace signs, certificates of appreciation, notices of community affiliation, Program of Excellence plaques, NATEF plaques, display trophys won by our students, Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills awards, pictures of past successful students, pictures of our advanced students, and many more items. What items should not be posted? Posters or calendars that reflect any type of poor taste, clocks or items that reflect poorly on you or the program. What about the color of the walls in your classroom? Research shows that blues and greens tend to be the most conducive to the transmission of ideas, while reds and oranges are least conducive. Also realize that your classroom has to be neat and clean with as few distractions as possible. Remember that you are the teacher, you are not called to hang with the kids. Old military wisdom says, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Also, students should not call you “coach” or by your first name in class, as this shows lack of respect for your position and for you as an adult. They should call you Mr., Mrs., or Ms. In conclusion then, what you say and how you say it is critical to your success. You should never forget to look at your lab and classroom through the eyes of your customers. Be assured that if you pay attention and avoid these program killers your program will succeed and the other teachers who compete for your students will be wondering why all the students are at your place. Quentin Swan has been a mechanic, a high school and community college auto mechanics instructor, a school district automotive program supervisor, and the Automotive Consultant for the California Department of Education on the high school and regional occupational levels. He is also ASE Master Auto Certified.

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