Behind the doors of Professional Development Day
Published: Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Updated: Sunday, March 20, 2011 18:03
Did you wonder why there were no classes at Parkland College on Thursday, February 24, 2011? It wasn't a snow day, or a bomb threat. It was the 23rd Annual Professional Development Day. This was a day in which Parkland staff were encouraged to listen to several speakers chosen by the Professional Development Subcommittee for Staff. The day started with a wonderful breakfast buffet provided by Parkland's Hospitality Club, providing a relaxed chance to talk and meet new people. After an introduction by Parkland's Vice President, Seamus Reilly, the event's keynote speaker, Terry Feinberg, from the U of I Extension Office, spoke on "Engaging Generations." In her presentation, she pointed out differences concerning each succeeding generation's distinctive work place expectations and how each generation has singular values created by its life influences. Currently, most work places have what are designated as Baby Boomers, Generations Xs and Generation Ys all working in the same establishment. The Radio Generation is mostly retired now.
Baby Boomers grew up between 1946 and 1965. They experienced the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the increasing popularity of television. Their values include choice, change, advancement, work place titles and earning respect. Many are workaholics and often spend more time at work than with family.
The life influences of Generation X people, who grew up between 1966 and 1985, include technology, latchkey kids, multiculturalism and the beginning of AIDS. Their collective values focus on flexibility, competition, family, telecommuting and instant gratification. Instead of respect being earned, they start a relationship with it and then take it away when forming opinions.
Generation Y is a larger age group than that of X, making it second largest population category behind the Baby Boomers. They grew up during 1986-2005, making them the faction that dealt with 9/11, terrorism and reality TV. These factors have created values that favor choice, disposable products, constant stimuli and immediate gratification. They believe all are equal and appreciate family.
In summary, Feinberg said that "The Radio Generation (1926-1945) didn't like change, the Boomers love change, the X's will force change if they have to and the Y's are confused."
According to event co-chair and Art Gallery Director, Lisa Costello, ". . . for me it was really enlightening to see how different generations bring their values to the workplace or classes. We have a wide range of students with varying ages, and it is helpful to understand how these individuals are influenced by events that happened to them as a group and how they adapt and thrive to work together successfully. What motivates people and how they process information also helps get things done more efficiently without a lot of misunderstandings."
The talks continued with Parkland's Marketing and Public Relations Director, Patty Lehn. Promotion through Social Media, Lehn said, could be used to promote an organization akin to how TV and radio is used. "It is not a billboard shouting information at the reader but rather an interactive tool that can be shut off too easily," resulting in Parkland events not being properly promoted. Proper use of social media, through photo tagging and contests, promotes in a way that will help keep the school from falling off of the newsfeed of Facebook pages.
The third speaker was a Parkland graduate who is now working in the area as a certified personal trainer. Melinda Dragonuk graduated in 2009 and spoke about how exercise and personal fitness is a large part of living a healthy lifestyle. She explained about a new fitness tool called TMX that she enjoys using for strength training. Developed by a Navy SEAL for ready use just about anywhere, the device uses body weight to increase weight loss. It is popular not only with fitness people but with physical therapy trainers as well. She also explained how important it was to create the time for exercise, along with proper nutrition, as well as exercise tips for those already living a healthy lifestyle.
The final speaker of the day was Parkland College Volunteer Coordinator, Lauren Ritter. She discussed the Corporation of National Community Service and, specifically, its branch called AmeriCorps, which is working with Parkland on several projects, including the Garden Hills Homework Club. The various projects resulted in almost 300 Parkland students engaged in the service learning and having volunteered over 2900 hours of community service in 2009.
Professional Development Day was a day for just that, development and growth. Faculty and Staff learned some new things and were reminded of others, while students took the day off for some extra leisure time, or a time to catch up on those piles of homework.