Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow: Networking

Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow: Networking

Networking

Networking is key to success, regardless of you vocation! Aside from my faith, few tools in my toolbox have served me better than my personal and professional network. When I think about how my network started and has grown over many years, I’m reminded of an old Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” This proverb holds true when developing and nurturing your network.  If you’re a student reading this article, start growing your network today.  Your network is the most valuable currency you possess.

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I’m often asked by young adults what is the number one thing they should be working on.  It’s simple – your network.

Your professional network is much like a tree. As a young adult, it starts small with a few connections here and there. As you advance in school or your career, your network grows more limbs and branches.  With each passing day, a new branch is added and, sometimes, those branches take us in seemingly strange and unexpected directions. Those unexpected directions, when taken prayerfully, may represent God unveiling his will for you. Taken without prayer or contemplation, those directions may be foolish, or worse, dangerous.

Intentionality

How do you about intentionally growing a network?  It begins with goal setting. Setting a goal to meet at least one new person each week. A lunch meeting or a quick coffee request are generally well received by others (if not, you may not want to network with them anyway) and one meeting usually leads to another.  When meeting, your exclusive goal is to get to know someone better. Be fully present and keep your phone in your pocket or your purse. You may discover the person with whom you’re meeting to have interests and life experiences you never knew existed, thus expanding your horizons. Be willing to share “your story” with intentionality, discussing your family, career and interests.

Benefits

A robust network can produce job opportunities, new friendships and relationships. In times of need, big or small, your network can be relied upon for help.  For instance, at Apprentice University, we frequently need many professionals at our various events to network with our students.  Over the years, I’ve deliberately grown, pruned and nurtured my network such that filling an event with quality and qualified professionals is relatively easy.  Favors and requests are common within a healthy network and, the broader the network, the more likely you’ll find that specific person for a niche need.

Networking is a 2-Way Street

Networking is not all about receiving help or being asked by a friend for help It’s not all about taking. Your network is a two-way street and it demands your attention. Random acts of kindness ought to be labeled as “rare acts of kindness” these days and therein lies a great opportunity for you to differentiate your personal brand in your network. For example, let’s assume one day you’re scrolling through posts on social media and you happen to see someone you know has recently lost their job.  Instead of just scrolling on by, pick up your phone and give them a call (a text message in this case would be insulting, insincere and cheap). Rest assured their world has just been rocked and their need for their network to engage is high.  Don’t wait to be asked to help – jump in, grab coffee with them and listen (truly listen) to what’s on their mind.

Investment

As mentioned above, your network is like a tree. Thus far, we’ve focused on the visible portions of your network, the parts above ground – the limbs and branches.  But what’re equally important are the roots of your network, or your inner self.  A character willing to serve, with humility and without being asked, is a character which will produce a robust network of friends.  We spend time with people in our network, but we invest without reservation in those individuals of an authentic, humble character. In networking, if you’re perceived to always be out for gain, your network will be shallow and flimsy. Be prepared and eager to serve.  In other words, be willing to give of yourself. As Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

Schedule Your Coffee Date!

Your network is one, if not the, most valuable tool in your toolbox. It requires intentionality, pruning and, most importantly, your deliberate and authentic engagement. Remember, plant that tree today – who will you ask to coffee tomorrow?

Networking

Aside from my faith, few tools in my toolbox have served me better than my personal and professional network. When I think about how my network started and has grown over many years, I’m reminded of an old Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” This proverb holds true when developing and nurturing your network.  If you’re a student reading this article, start growing your network today.  Your network is the most valuable currency you possess.

I’m often asked by young adults what is the number one thing they should be working on.  It’s simple – your network.

Your professional network is much like a tree. As a young adult, it starts small with a few connections here and there. As you advance in school or your career, your network grows more limbs and branches.  With each passing day, a new branch is added and, sometimes, those branches take us in seemingly strange and unexpected directions. Those unexpected directions, when taken prayerfully, may represent God unveiling his will for you. Taken without prayer or contemplation, those directions may be foolish, or worse, dangerous.

Intentionality

How do you about intentionally growing a network?  It begins with goal setting. Setting a goal to meet at least one new person each week. A lunch meeting or a quick coffee request are generally well received by others (if not, you may not want to network with them anyway) and one meeting usually leads to another.  When meeting, your exclusive goal is to get to know someone better. Be fully present and keep your phone in your pocket or your purse. You may discover the person with whom you’re meeting to have interests and life experiences you never knew existed, thus expanding your horizons. Be willing to share “your story” with intentionality, discussing your family, career and interests.

Benefits

A robust network can produce job opportunities, new friendships and relationships. In times of need, big or small, your network can be relied upon for help.  For instance, at Apprentice University, we frequently need many professionals at our various events to network with our students.  Over the years, I’ve deliberately grown, pruned and nurtured my network such that filling an event with quality and qualified professionals is relatively easy.  Favors and requests are common within a healthy network and, the broader the network, the more likely you’ll find that specific person for a niche need.

Networking is a 2-Way Street

Networking is not all about receiving help or being asked by a friend for help It’s not all about taking. Your network is a two-way street and it demands your attention. Random acts of kindness ought to be labeled as “rare acts of kindness” these days and therein lies a great opportunity for you to differentiate your personal brand in your network. For example, let’s assume one day you’re scrolling through posts on social media and you happen to see someone you know has recently lost their job.  Instead of just scrolling on by, pick up your phone and give them a call (a text message in this case would be insulting, insincere and cheap). Rest assured their world has just been rocked and their need for their network to engage is high.  Don’t wait to be asked to help – jump in, grab coffee with them and listen (truly listen) to what’s on their mind.

Investment

As mentioned above, your network is like a tree. Thus far, we’ve focused on the visible portions of your network, the parts above ground – the limbs and branches.  But what’re equally important are the roots of your network, or your inner self.  A character willing to serve, with humility and without being asked, is a character which will produce a robust network of friends.  We spend time with people in our network, but we invest without reservation in those individuals of an authentic, humble character. In networking, if you’re perceived to always be out for gain, your network will be shallow and flimsy. Be prepared and eager to serve.  In other words, be willing to give of yourself. As Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

Schedule Your Coffee Date!

Your network is one, if not the, most valuable tool in your toolbox. It requires intentionality, pruning and, most importantly, your deliberate and authentic engagement. Remember, plant that tree today – who will you ask to coffee tomorrow?

Empolyability Ron Brumbarger

Ron Brumbarger is one of Indiana’s most recognized technology and education entrepreneurs and visionaries. As a dedicated husband, father, friend, mentor, business owner and volunteer, Ron continually strives to weave his many passions into a unique tapestry to serve others. He has spent his entire professional career leveraging an entrepreneurial mindset to help disruptively change education, apply technology to enhance business practices and facilitate organizational growth. He co-founded BitWise in 1992 and served as the company’s president and CEO until January 2018. He was tapped in 2006 by Indiana’s Governor Daniels and Ball State President Gora to start Indiana’s first, statewide, virtual-charter school. In 2013, he founded Apprentice University ®, an award-winning, competency-based college of higher education, preparing future leaders.Content goes here

Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow Employability Skills

Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow Employability Skills

Employability Skills

I’m often asked, “What are the top five skills a young adult should have?”  In other words, what employability skills should we be teaching our kids and students? I suppose after many years of coaching and mentoring young adults, I likely rattle these off much like a tour guide on a tour bus.  In case you’ve not had the opportunity to hear this lecture, read on. If you have, scroll on by – there’s nothing here to see… but I bet you won’t. The challenge is whittling down the list to just five, but let’s give it a try.

1 – Communications.  Professionalism, timelines and conciseness in communications, regardless of the medium is non-negotiable. At Apprentice University, we teach a class in Professional Communications. We assert that you may be the smartest guy/gal in the room, top of your class and all that jazz… but if you cannot communicate professionally, you’ll be labeled second rate.  And, contrary to the belief of many young adults, using your phone as a phone – as in a phone call – isn’t going away anytime soon.

2 – Timeliness. I’m often shocked at how many young adults do not manage their schedules with a calendar. Working from memory was acceptable in junior high, but as a young adult with demands on your time, scheduling conflicts, drive times, traffic delays, back to back meetings, etc., all place pressure on our schedules. Being timely in delivering a project, meeting attendance, phone calls, and so on, is crucial for one’s employability and career advancement.  Timeliness in communications demonstrates respect for the other(s) and shows you’re paying attention.  If you attended a school, or were homeschooled, and deadlines were mere suggestions – think again. Timing is crucial, absolutely crucial, when others are depending upon you.

3 – Technological Agility.  I recently overheard a young adult – not one of our students at Apprentice University, by the way – say, “Better not let Mr. B. know you don’t know how to do that…”  For certain, given my career in technology the last three decades, my expectations are probably higher than others when it comes to agility in using modern tools and technology.  Regardless, the workplace assumes you’ve mastered tools common to the office – regardless of your career path.  Whether you want to be a plumber, programmer or a policeman, you absolutely must master common technology tools found in an office.

4 – Critical Thinking. Few problems or opportunities present themselves with instructions.  Understanding how to think critically about a problem helps to combat the absence of an instruction manual.  We hear the phrase “critical thinking” all the time, but what exactly does such a process look like?  Let’s explore.

  • Defining the problem (or opportunity). A clear understanding of the problem being solved is half the battle. Albert Einstein is attributed to having said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
  • Divergent thinking. Imagining and brainstorming ideas to solve a problem starts with fresh thinking and considering all ways in which a problem might be resolved.
  • Design thinking. Much has been written about design thinking and this little article certainly will not do it justice. For our purposes, we’ll reduce design thinking to the art of starting small and iteratively improving upon the previous attempts.  At Apprentice University, we practice this skill routinely.
  • Evaluation means measuring one’s results, learning from what worked and what didn’t and adjusting accordingly.

5 – Failing. In this series I discuss failure in more depth in another article, but a critical employability skill is appreciating and accepting failure.  Today’s society looks upon failure negatively. I’m not talking about failing because you did something stupid or had a lack of judgment. I’m speaking of failure that is a certainty because you’re trying. Thomas Edison allegedly said, “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 999 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”  Failure that demonstrates an insatiable appetite to learn from mistakes (like design thinking) is good, welcome and desirable and creates employability in often unusual ways.

Communication is Key!

Today’s top employees communicate effectively and timely. They leverage productivity improvements through technology, think both critically and innovatively about problems and aren’t afraid to try – and fail.  Those who refuse to communicate and are afraid to fail at solving a problem are destined to be frustrated in the modern-day workplace.

Empolyability Ron Brumbarger

Ron Brumbarger is one of Indiana’s most recognized technology and education entrepreneurs and visionaries. As a dedicated husband, father, friend, mentor, business owner and volunteer, Ron continually strives to weave his many passions into a unique tapestry to serve others. He has spent his entire professional career leveraging an entrepreneurial mindset to help disruptively change education, apply technology to enhance business practices and facilitate organizational growth. He co-founded BitWise in 1992 and served as the company’s president and CEO until January 2018 He was tapped in 2006 by Indiana’s Governor Daniels and Ball State President Gora to start Indiana’s first, statewide, virtual-charter school. In 2013, he founded Apprentice University®, an award-winning, competency-based college of higher education, preparing future leaders.

Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow: Entreprenuer-ship

Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow: Entreprenuer-ship

Entrepreneur-ship

As the “gig economy” continues to grow, the likelihood those of you between 16 and 30 will be self-employed is nearly certain. It’s better to be prepared for such rather than scramble to make ends meet under duress. Those contemplating on the self employment route will soon consider themselves an entrepreneur – taking calculated risks for a return. Preparing to be an entrepreneur starts with the right attitude. I propose the following theory regarding entrepreneurship: Hubris is a sure-fire way to fail in business as an entrepreneur.

Definitions

Before we begin, let’s add a few words to your vocabulary. Hubris, a relatively uncommon word these days, is defined as “excessive pride or self-confidence.”  Empathy, a similarly under recognized word, means “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”  Intuition is a critical ingredient to entrepreneurship and means “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” With our vocabulary level set, let me explain my theory…

Hubris & Humility

I propose that the deeply rooted intuition necessary for an entrepreneur to empathize for a customer, to understand their needs and to see opportunities, is supplanted by the callousness of hubris.  Further, I assert that hubris in your character is the opposite of humility and that humility is a required ingredient for empathy. We’ve all experienced the individual who is full of hubris, cannot be taught, has the answer to the problem before we finish describing it and delivers a ready-made solution for any and every challenge before them. Actually hearing, understanding and processing your challenge is unnecessary to this type of person.  In extreme cases, this person twitches while they politely permit you to finish describing your challenge. Let’s say you’re untangling a complex problem.  You seek advice from a friend who has, in the past, demonstrated they can listen with intentionality and focus. You want their undivided attention to assist you in solving your problem. You know their intentionality and focus while engaging with you (aka the modern-day phrase “be in the moment”) will enable them to experience the nuances in your word choice, pauses in your speech, inflections in your voice and the oh-so-important body language. You could have selected from among a dozen good friends, but knowing your friend will have deep empathy for your situation was a wise choice.  Generally, such people’s time is in high demand. Had you sought counsel from a less empathetic friend, you likely would have received proverbial “from the hip” advice.  This friend, while surely not possessing ill intentions, wouldn’t have listened intently nor with focus. Garnering their counsel likely would have resulted in minimally considered solutions and haphazard outcomes.

The Importance of Empathy in Problem Solving

Thus, empathy is required to fully understand and address a problem or opportunity.  An entrepreneur who seeks to have greater empathy for customers in a given market is much like the chosen friend above.  The likelihood they’ll produce a more thoughtful, insightful and more targeted solution to a business opportunity is greatly enhanced due to their focus on the problem they’re solving. Conversely, the entrepreneur who brandishes his hubris, knows it all and does shoot from the hip is incapable of possessing the empathy necessary to fully understand a customer’s needs. The next time you see a self-labeled entrepreneur brandishing their hubris, duck – and close your wallet!

Empolyability Ron Brumbarger

Ron Brumbarger is one of Indiana’s most recognized technology and education entrepreneurs and visionaries. As a dedicated husband, father, friend, mentor, business owner and volunteer, Ron continually strives to weave his many passions into a unique tapestry to serve others. He has spent his entire professional career leveraging an entrepreneurial mindset to help disruptively change education, apply technology to enhance business practices and facilitate organizational growth. He co-founded BitWise in 1992 and served as the company’s president and CEO until January 2018. He was tapped in 2006 by Indiana’s Governor Daniels and Ball State President Gora to start Indiana’s first, statewide, virtual-charter school. In 2013, he founded Apprentice University®, an award-winning, competency-based college of higher education, preparing future leaders.

Breakthrough Special Needs/Struggling Learners Program

Breakthrough Special Needs/Struggling Learners Program

Breakthrough Special Needs/ Struggling Learners Program

Struggling Learners Special Needs

Brought to you by…

True North Academy 
The Thinking and Learning Center 
SPED Homeschool

Special Needs/ Struggling Learners require unique attention and assistance. At True North Academy, we are excited to be partnering with The Thinking and Learning Center and SPED Homeschool to help support all of our students!

Reading & Phonics through Spelling

Reading & Phonics through Spelling takes five essential components of reading

  • Phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Reading comprehension

and systematically teaches students  using a discovery and sound-based approach to phonics instruction.

Each week students will discover spelling patterns for different sounds.

Homework is completed weekly using A Reason For Spelling workbooks; utilizing proven methods for students with dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

  • Level 1 is offered for students using A Reason For Spelling Level Cand Level D
  • Level 2 is offered for students using A Reason For Spelling Level Eand Level F

To determine what level your child is performing at please utilize the placement tests for A Reason For Spelling :

Math Games

  • Build and strengthen number sense
  • Build math fluency
  • Build math vocabulary
  • Build problem-solving strategies.

Who Will Benefit from Math Games?

  • Students who need to master basic number sense
  • Students who do not remember the steps or in problem-solving
  • Students who need to build their procedural understandings of math
  • Students who have trouble with math facts

Math Games Level 1 – Basic Operations – offers addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and how to learn math facts fast.

Math Games Level 2 – Math involving fractions, decimals, percent, and review of multiplication facts.

The Thinking and Learning Center

This process highlights how cognitive processes are used, under-utilized or chaotically-processed.

Struggling Learners Classes are taught by Moms you can trust with professional training!
Kelley Godwin and Amy Vickrey.  

You might also be interested in American Sign Language. Check out ourCourse Catalog for other phenomenal courses offered through True North Homeschool Academy. 

SPED Homeschool

For more information on Struggling Learners, and about what you can do at home, check out SPED Homeschool.

Need help with writing an IEP or 504 Plan for your child? Check out these articles below!

4 Things to Prepare Before Writing your Child’s IEP
How to Write IEP Goals and Objectives
Writing an IEP: Accommodations and Modifications
How to Track IEP Goals
DIY Occupational Therapy Tips

American Sign Language

Blended Leanring, It Just Makes Sense!

Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow Healthy Imagination

Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow Healthy Imagination

Imagination

Perhaps the most important tool in a young adult’s toolbox is imagination.  Imagining where your career might take you enables you to play out future scenarios without expending significant resources.  Game-changing innovations are often the by-product of a healthy imagination.  So how do you sharpen and direct your imagination?  Read. This. Post. Slowly. It’s meant to be an opportunity to let your imagination relax and stretch before running wild.

Actively Feed Your Imagination

First, actively feed your imagination. Look for new things to learn, places to explore, and people to meet.  Intentionally learn something new so you go to bed smarter each day.  For example, let’s say your home town has an old museum that you have driven by a hundred times. You wouldn’t be caught dead visiting there because it’s just not cool. That stuffy old museum has existed as long as you can remember. It’s a fixture on the street corner that neither you nor your friends would ever dream of visiting. However, at one time, something historically remarkable occurred which motivated thought leaders of the day to catalog and memorialize that event.  The museum has elements that were innovative and creative and still demonstrate exceptional imagination.  Even though something is “old,” what might you learn from the work of the past?

Converse with Others

Feeding your imagination requires you to experience new things routinely, and conversations with others is a great place to start. Begin by touring that old museum or seeking out conversations with people who are diverse from your traditional domain.  An intentional conversation with an elderly person who tells you their “story” forces your mind to see the world through a lens of yesterday. Conversely, spending a little time with a research scientist working to bring a new technology to market will cause you to imagine future scenarios and applications for their work.  Take time to feed your imagination.

Exercise Your Imagination

Second, exercise your imagination. Try this little exercise…  With the stage lights to the theater of your mind burning hot, the amp cranked, your cell phone off (and in another room), your gaming console in sleep mode and your headphones put away, pause and explore the picture out the window before you.  What do you see? Your car parked in the driveway? Trees in the background? The sidewalk in front of your house? The neighbor kids playing in the front yard? Same picture, different day, right?

S-t-r-e-t-c-h

Now… With your imagination in stretch mode and the theater of your mind prepared for showtime, think back to the day you bought your car. Remember the excitement and freedom you felt that day?  Think about where that little four-wheeled freedom maker might take you next. What about the trees? Consider the picture of the people who planted those trees so many years ago. What was their story? Why did they plant in that spot? Where are they today? How long have those trees been there?

Let’s explore the sidewalk for a minute.  The sidewalk in your picture was formed naturally right after Noah’s flood, right? Ehm… cough, no! Somebody took time to measure, dig, form and pour the concrete for that sidewalk – probably on a hot summer day. How many people helped pour that concrete? Because it’s old, it’s likely the concrete was mixed by hand in a wheelbarrow.  Maybe a dad used the “sidewalk project” as an opportunity to teach his sons the value of hard work.  Imagine a couple boys, one on each handle of that heavy wheelbarrow, clumsily pushing the heavy load from the mixing location to the wooden forms of the sidewalk.  They’re staggering and stumbling as they practice synchronized wheelbarrow pushing (a future Olympic sport!).  They pour the concrete while dad smiles.  Well done, boys.

How’d you do?  Was that stretch?  Might you set a reminder on your phone to do this for three times a day for five minutes?

What Did You Fail to Imagine?

Think back to our sidewalk and what you failed to imagine. Rewind those images of the dad and his boys pouring concrete.  In your haste to get through the movie of that dad and his boys, what did you fail to imagine? What color were the boys’ shoes? Did they have their shirts on? Were dad’s helpers all boys? Was one significantly older than the other? The scene was set to cause you to think the boys were small, yet their age was never stated.  Maybe they’re older and working in their dad’s concrete business. Did you fail to imagine the length of the sidewalk they’re pouring?  Did you fail to imagine how the concrete might be decorated?

What’s Limiting You?

As you consider decisions before you – academic choices, career options, or choosing a mate – pause and ponder what is limiting your decisions.  Are the limits placed upon your decisions self-induced?  Are you limiting your imagination through biases, prejudices (not talking about racial prejudices) and clichés due to your upbringing or cultural surroundings?  Or, heaven forbid, are the limits due to a lazy imagination because you couldn’t put down your smart phone?

Everything you see in your world is connected to a story.  The person you passed on the sidewalk, the kid boarding the school bus, even the mug you’re sipping coffee from has a story! It’s these stories which feed and stretch your imagination.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat

Remember: repeat three times a day for five minutes.

$330 per class includes Scranton Performance Series test- Math, Reading, Language Arts & Lexile Reading Scores! Great tool for Mom AND fulfills state testing requirements! Dismiss