Staff now have go-to-place for workplace skills, tips and resources

There’s a new Workplace Skills page on vbcps.com and it’s one that, regardless of your job classification, might help further grow your skills, provide a refresher on particular topics, or allow you to check your skills against proven practices.

“You Said What? Simple Communication Mistakes That Are Costing You Greatly and Even Simpler Solutions for Avoiding Them,” is one of the resources that Administrative Office Associate Lisa Satoski has accessed. She was also “very excited to see the great selection of courses” offered, including others such as “Keeping Your Cool When the Conversation Gets Hot” and “The Danger of Distraction – Surviving Work in a 24/7 World.”

Satoski says that the resources, which support a culture of growth and excellence, Goal 4 in the division’s strategic framework Compass to 2020, help her work with the variety of customers that she encounters every day.

“We deal with such a wide spectrum of issues and procedures and work with many administrators, students and parents as well as school employees — usually all in the same day,” Satoski describes. “These courses address different scenarios and environments we find ourselves in. They speak about the level of understanding we must have for the individuals we are working with to see the situation through their eyes, which helps relieve tension and show empathy.”

Kempsville Elementary School Security Assistant Linda Miller, a 40-year employee of the school division, says the resources are “relevant to today’s problems and offer useable solutions.” Some of her favorite podcasts have been “Dealing with Everyday Conflict, Gossip, Gab and Destructive Behavior.” Like Satoski, Miller also gave high marks to the “Danger of Distraction” resource.

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Thoroughgood Elementary School Principal Dr. Cheryl Zigrang is another fan of the resources. She says that they are “very job pertinent.”

“For example, communication is a huge part of my job—communicating with students, teachers and families,” she said. “I’ve had at least one takeaway every time and it’s a takeaway that I can immediately apply right into my job.”

Satoski and Zigrang are two of an estimated 280 staff members from across various job categories, including teachers, security assistants, office associates, administrators and others who have accessed the page, which was developed by Office of Professional Growth and Innovation (PGI) and is posted on that department’s vbcps.com intranet page. Employees can also access resources by setting up their Frontline Education profile settings to receive notifications.

“The topics are skills that cross and transfer positions,” said PGI’s Janene Gorham, Director of Teacher Learning and Leadership. “Everybody needs teamwork. Everybody needs time management. So we looked for website articles, podcasts, handouts, presentations, quick quizzes, tips and more that support those skills. We are especially excited to offer ‘Learning on the Go’ audio podcasts because those provide such a flexible learning opportunity.”

Zigrang finds “Learning on the Go” podcasts helpful because she can listen at her own pace and download them to her MP3 player or laptop. If she’s interrupted or has limited time, she’s also able to pause and return later.

Topics are organized under four broad categories:

  • Functional Skills and Technical Knowledge of the Job;
  • Workplace Communication;
  • Collaboration/Teamwork; and
  • Professionalism.

One article under the “Workplace Communication” section is an article by Harvard Business Review about “What Great Listeners Actually Do.” According to the article, good listening is more than just remaining silent and being able to repeat what the individual said. The article goes on to reveal surprising results from a study of more than 3,492 participants.

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Good listening is only one example of how the resources listed on the page can be relevant regardless of your job and even earn staff members points.

“While teachers can’t gain Professional Learning Program (PLP) points because those topics directly support classroom instruction, the Workplace Skills page resources can earn participants points to apply toward license renewal,” Gorham added.

Classified staff also have a good reason to log on since the page was set up to align to skills sets assessed in the classified evaluation instrument, which is also available on the Workplace Skills page.

“People walk away with concrete strategies,” Gorham said. She knows because she emphasized that every feedback response is not only read but used to evaluate whether staff members are finding particular resources useful or not. “People wonder if we read every feedback response and we do.”

“We also want to know if there are bad resources,” Gorham stressed. “I know because I reviewed one audio podcast and returned it to the company.”

Look for more resources to be added as the site continues to grow.

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