Let’s Meet About It

One thing I am implementing into my classroom is the use of a Gemba board.  I got the idea from Siemens. I learned that “gemba” is a Japanese word that is also used in the Toyota factory, but oddly enough no one could tell me what the word meant. Every morning at Siemens each department has a Gemba board meeting, where they meet to discuss issues they are having with their projects and their plan to resolve those issues. They also track data as to how their plans are working.

I really liked the idea of these daily meetings and knew I wanted to apply this in my classroom. It didn’t take me long to figure out how. We always have issues and problems that arise and we have “family meetings” every day anyways. Really all I had to do was make a board, actually write down the issues we were having, write down our plan for resolving the issues, and track the data to see how well our plan was working.

It has been great! I love it and it has been extremely helpful in my classroom this year. It is a great way for students to take ownership over these issues and problem solve around them. It is also a quick and easy reminder when things start going south. I also love the data tracking aspect of it so we can see are we getting better, staying the same, or are things still getting worse. We have discussions around how we are trending and make adjustments to our “Next Steps”, as necessary. It definitely helps to keep students accountable.

The Gemba board has been gold and I plan on using it for years to come!

The Opportunities are Endless

Siemens taught me a lot this summer but one of the things that has really stuck with me is that you can be successful without a 4-, 6-, or 8- year degree. At Siemens, my eyes were opened to hundreds of different job opportunities, from people of varying educational backgrounds. Majority of the people working on the floor, crafting the multi-million dollar products, have Associate’s degrees and trade school experience. Through conversations with those men and women, I came to understand that we are unintentionally teaching our students that if they don’t go to college that they cannot be successful and that just isn’t true. I learned that there are tons of job opportunities out there where you earn more than decent living by going to trade school and inquiring skills needed for a specific job.

In addition, my eyes were really opened to modern day manufacturing. Manufacturing today is a lot different than it was decades ago. It used to be when you heard the word manufacturing, you thought of dingy, hot buildings without air-conditioning where men are sweaty, dirty, and working themselves to death. Manufacturing today is a different world. The men and women working these manufacturing jobs are working in a climate-controlled building that is cleaner and more organized than my house.

Lastly, I realized just how many varying jobs it takes to make a company as large as Siemens go round. For example, there aren’t just several engineers. There are several engineers that are focused on one part of a gas turbine, out of hundreds of parts. I don’t think I realized just how many opportunities are out there. It makes me excited for my students, knowing that one day they could be taking over these jobs.