Though I’ve been out of the classroom (as student and teacher) for almost 35 years, I still learn something new just about every day. The fact that I’m no longer working within the boundaries of an institution of learning does not mean that I’m finished with acquiring new information to fit into an already-crowded brain. It’s no stretch to admit that I am where I am today—in my career and personal life—because of what I continue to learn along the way. (If you ask my wife, she would say that the proper application of what I learned is questionable, but that’s fodder for another blog post.)
At Publishing Solutions Group, we have been very deliberate about how we continually train our staff. While all staff benefit from the expected on-the-job training, we also make it a point to sit down with our colleagues and address issues that are relevant to our specific responsibilities and the business as a whole.
As the company’s VP for sales and business development, I bring not only 30+ years of publishing experience to the presentations, but also the perspective of someone who has been on both sides of the desk—in editorial positions with major publishers on one side, and as a VP with several development firms such as PSG on the other. One of my responsibilities is to direct the ongoing education of our staff in matters that matter (say that five times fast) to our clients. Called “Ken-tinuing Education” (I’ll let you figure out where the name comes from), our sessions cover a wide range of topics. Our feeling is that the better informed our staff is about how the publishing industry works, the better prepared we will be to develop quality programs and products for our clients. A typical hour-long session that I lead addresses topics that are very much in play with the work we do at PSG. Topics have included:
  •  a review of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and how they affect educational publishing.
  • the use of readability scales in trade books.
  • levels of intervention in reading instruction.
  • frequently asked questions from our clients: How should we respond?
The research I do to prepare for the sessions as well the discussions they inevitably produce brings about new discoveries for me, too. A recent discussion of the CCSS brought about the question of whether or not other countries use national curriculum standards. I did some additional research to learn that yes, many countries do indeed have national standards. (Did you know that Finland, a world leader in education, is one of those countries, and those standards include instruction about religion?)
Upcoming session topics include how ever-evolving technologies are changing the publishing industry and how PSG effectively markets its services to clients. We anticipate the give-and-take of these Ken-tinuing Education sessions to be lively, enlightening and energizing to those of us for whom learning never ends.
Did You Know?
Although he jokes that his wife fails to see application of his knowledge, Ken especially enjoys using his repertoire for trivia. At each of our weekly staff meetings, after going through the points of business, Ken likes to conclude with a few trivia questions. Sometimes he pulls them from a discovery made during the week, others from his team trivia nights. On the weeks when Ken is lacking in new trivia, we consult the (unofficial) Jeopardy! archives. Each of us seems to have a different categorical strength, and it’s particularly exciting when a question is raised that applies to knowledge obtained during project work. Just looked at a passage about Sequoyah and his Cherokee syllabary? That may just come in handy for future questioning, whether by Ken or Alex Trebek. Who knows? We just might have another Ken Jennings on our hands.