Posts tagged Chevron

Kazakh Teachers’ Views on Education (Part III)

Today will be the last installment (for a while) of my former students’ writings on their own Kazakh educational system. It would be interesting to line up the problems that American teachers have next to those that are part of the daily grind of the Kazakh teachers.  I sympathize with these teachers in Kazakhstan who have a Herculean job to educate their young charges in three languages, catching up with the rest of the world but doing so with skimpy resources.

Perform a miracle with these bright minds of the future, but DO it without much help other than learning pedogogical theory and DO it with a low pay and lowly status.  I suppose my American teaching colleagues have guns to fear or stubborn and rebellious students to coddle.  Usually if a teacher knows her students’ needs, she can tell when someone is a bit “off” and needs some counseling.  The tragedies that have happened in the U.S. and elsewhere when kids shoot up other kids, like Columbine for instance, should never happen.

So, please when you read my fifth student’s entry on what she thought about “change mangement” she is only using the term “guns” and “shooting” to illustrate a point. An American teacher would never make this innocent mistake.

Student #5 – Throughout our PDP program we students of our American teacher discussed a lot about the changes we as young teachers could introduce to the rotten system of post soviet thinking. It is really good to speak about the problems, and make people aware of them. I was always a good critic of my surroundings and saw the problems people have here very well since my own student time. But since I started to go to school as a teacher I saw many students smart ahead of their time and smarter than me. Also, they turned out to be more aware of the “problem people.”

Now I am anxious to become one of those who knows the problem and complains but also never sees the solutions that are taking place. I think that it is good if we take change management as our guns and start shooting people with the idea of changing, but we have to not forget that we have to also shoot people with taking actions rather than being simply aware.

So, in my opinion, the first thing we must pay attention to is developing critical thinking. We should teach students think about the reason of what they are doing. So, in the nearest future students can ask questions and teachers must be ready to answer them. Unfortunately, the majority of teachers are not ready for these changes. They want students obey them totally.

Second, if we want to change something we should begin with the top. That means, with our administration because however smart and modern teachers are, they can’t do anything without the approval of the boss.

I’ve learnt much from these courses and I hope I will be able to apply the knowledge I got here.

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Kazakh Teachers’ Views about Education (Part II)

Yesterday I revealed what two of my former ten students thought of the slideshow provided by a friend of mine who works for Chevron. “Change Management” is important and needs to happen in Kazakhstan’s education, and soon.  And how! For one thing, the Kazakh teachers know they need to be better prepared to be a part of the 21st century so they can stay abreast of what their students are getting into with Internet and computer games, etc. However, if you go into the countryside of Kazakhstan, it is sad to know that many Kazakh students barely have electricity in their rural schools. To have an Internet connection is laughable when they don’t even have indoor plumbing in some cases.  Some Kazakh teachers barely have a blackboard to use in their classrooms, much less up-to-date, relevant textbooks. (see my earlier blog).  Read the following two entries:

Student #3 – While listening yesterday to Chevron presentation, I was thinking about what advantages I can fish for myself from this presentation as it was hard for me to connect it with teaching. However, then it made me understand that we are also somehow connected with the business as Chevron company. Although it might sound funny that education is a business, but it is true as we are also in the system of service.

In this course we have learned a lot of things that seem to be hard to put in teaching practice, but anyway it is important and it is possible to apply them in lessons. Thinking of myself as an “agent” in our school is very privileged as it means that we who have graduated PDP course means that now we are on the special mission there.

So, now we need to prove to others that the teaching methods that we have known here are beneficial indeed in order to convince them to use in their own lessons. The main reason why the methods that we’ve learned here are effective, because nowadays everything is focused on computers and their development is very fast, which means that using Internet and blogging will be an integral part in teaching writing in future. So, it is better to start doing it now.

Everyday we meet and need changes anywhere in our life. Even at school the administration requires to show our progress and offer better and better proposals from us. Sometimes it can be nerve wracking and difficult but soon you understand that these changes were very significant and useful. All changes bring positive consequences. But they must not be spontaneous otherwise all efforts will be failed.

Student #4 – Firstly, we must see an innovation in our mind and understand what we want as a result at the end. Secondly, we must plan for change step by step like an architect prepares a plan for a new building. Lastly, but not least, it is an action. We never change our life if we just wait that someone will help us or do instead of us. Only we decide what will be with us in future.

I like that now I have finished a PDP course which has an influence on me. I want to continue and improve myself personally and as a teacher. I hope that I will be able to do it without my teacher. It will be much more difficult because it is easier when someone controls you and shows a correct way when you got lost. [Editor’s note: a typical KZ student from a “teacher-centered” environment would write that!]

For me, it is comfortable to work in a team where I feel support from others and have opportunity to share my predictions and thoughts with like-minded people. Sharing information with other colleagues which I must do when I return in Semey is the most fruitful benefit. Because not only you but other teachers can use new methods and approaches.

(to be continued)

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Kazakh Teachers’ Views about Education in Kazakhstan

I am using the astute writings from my former Kazakh students who are teachers in Kazakhstan’s educational system. They, of anyone, should know what is needed for changes to happen (and quickly). During our Professional Development classes, I had them respond on Moodle to a slideshow I had gotten from a friend of mine who worked at Chevron. Her position was that of facilitating change in different countries by “change management.” She was quite persuasive that things could not continue in “this is the way we have always done it.”  She had been a guest speaker to my MBA classes when I taught in Almaty.  I still had her ppt presentation which is what my ten teachers watched and responded to in the context of thinking about changing management in education. Here are their views:

Student #1 – When I saw the ppt about Change Management, for the first time I thought about the possible “business plan” for the future. I have never thought that the management system in companies like Chevron are so alike the ones we have at schools and there could be any resemblance between schools and companies.

Change Agents? Wow, that sounds very intriguing. Like spies. I think what I’ve learned for these 20 weeks can be very useful not only for me and my colleagues, but also for the school where I will work in future. I know that at first it will be hard to “force” our ideas onto the management and the older teachers with many years of experience; and they won’t listen to us and take our words so easily. We have to show in practice what we have learned and gain respect, and then take some actions in the way changes.

I remember what one of PDP classmates said to me about what her advisor said to her once: “I know that you have better scores in IELTS than the others teachers do, and you are currently having courses about new teaching technologies and can work with computer tools; but this doesn’t mean that you can teach better than they do. They have a HUGE bag of teaching experience and worked methods. That’s why it is better to learn from them how to successfully get the main goals of teaching and teach THEM what you’ve learned at Nazarbayev University at PDP classes”. These were the words of her advisor.

Nevertheless, I think that if a person has something in mind and desire to make it happen, he will do it anyway. But this may need some time and great efforts. I wish good luck to all my group-mates in the “battle” for changes!

Student #2 – During all these months I learned many things that I had never heard before. I used to think that teaching was mostly boring. Actually, it was boring for me when I studied at the institute and had practice at schools.

What I like about the course is I was taught by a professional Western teacher. The first advantage is we had a foreign atmosphere in our lessons. And the second one is we learned about the disadvantages of our Kazakh schools. If we had a professional Kazakh teacher, I doubt if we could deal with that.

Now, it is our turn to show what we were taught, to make change in classroom atmosphere. WE know so many things and can apply any of them at school. We can use surveys (Survey Monkey), for writing, guest invitations for speaking and many other things. The most important is that we should stay in the way even after completion, because there would be no one to help us. And we should learn for ourselves and self-develop. I don’t want years later to meet my group mates, who didn’t use what we learned in PDP with her students. On my part, I will try to do my best to teach what I know to my environment. The majority of the teachers at NIS have been in a foreign country and also know about the modern ways of teaching. Sharing the experiences, we will be able to build a new society at school.”

(to be continued)

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GREAT Speakers (Part II)

PB050107Rarely do I invite guest speakers to come to talk to my university classes whom I barely know or have never met. Usually they are people I am confident will deliver a good talk to my students because I have gotten to know them in the last several years I have been teaching in Kazakhstan.  Last night was that special exception when my masters class was treated to Australian dry humor with Russell Banham speaking about his journey from Australia to working at Deloitte in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  He had sage advice to deliver concerning his work experience but also about life values.

Russell began with a question about what happened in December of 1974, long before these Kazakh students had been born.  They guessed and guessed but all were wrong.  That was the date when Russell started working for Arthur Andersen accounting firm.  If the blow-up at Enron had not happened in 2002, which impacted Russell in Brisbane, Australia, he claimed he would probably still be working for Arthur Andersen as a life-long employee.  However, what is interesting with most competitive accounting firms is that mid-50s is the age of retirement from being a partner, but you can return as a mentor consultant for the same firm.  Russell’s dry humor went right over my graduate students’ heads when he admitted, “I’m 55…I know I don’t look it.”  To me, Russell looks like a happy, knowledgeable professor with distinguished, graying hair.

Kathy, his wife, was sitting in the back of the classroom with me and we both laughed.  I believe people with dry humor need others around them that “get it,” Kathy has gotten it over 27 years now.  To live in Kazakhstan for any length of time, you NEED a sense of humor.  What was funny was that Russell, in an e-mail exchange, had initially asked me what his wife had “volunteered” him for.  Never having met him, I didn’t know if this was a stern rebuke of my not letting him in on what I expected from him or if he was simply dashing off a quick note to me. E-mail messages sometimes have a strange way of getting things more complicated with even a simple inquiry.  So I rattled off in my e-mail back to Russell all the different speakers he might know and what the titles of their talks had been: Chevron – “Change Management,” Citibank – “Effective Management,” Nestle – “Values and Principles” but I added that our speaker from Nestle had brought bars of chocolate.

PB050106Naturally, the competitive Australian which Russell no doubt is, and not wanting his organization of Deloitte to be outdone, did one better than Nestle.  Russell brought Deloitte baseball hats as a gift for each of my students. Thanks Russell!!!

We’ve had some GREAT speakers in my English Speaking and Listening class and next week we will have our final speaker of the semester with Julia Connelly talking about her passion.

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Effectual Dreaming about “Effective Management”


PA060563Last night for my masters class of “English Speaking and Listening” we had as our guest speaker, Daniel J. Connelly talk about “effective management.” He represented CITIbank. He has been with this same organization for 27 years, living in Atlanta, Georgia; Irving, California; Seoul, Korea; Indonesia, Russia and currently in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  I know his wife Julia Connelly, from AIWC (Almaty International Women’s Club)  She has made every move with Dan and sees it as a great adventure.


Dan shared about their organization’s pyramid with four tiers and how people at CITIbank can move to the next level up called “turns.”  From M.O.S. (managers of self) to M.O. (managing others) to M.O.M. (manager of managers) to finally the peak of the organization M.E (executive manager or Manager of the Enterprise). Dan admitted to a question posed by one of my more inquisitive students, that he was a M.E. in Kazakhstan.


Dan talked afterwards about Citibank’s goals or standards, just five of the 10.  These were enough to think about and some of what he said dovetailed with what Marielena from Chevron had spoken on earlier to my class concerning “Change Management.”  Dan claimed that in his organization people always want more information. Communication is BIG, especially when there are changes.


Second, employees expect and want more feedback about their performance (positive or negative) Thus, they can improve if they are found lacking by the time their performance review comes up.  Third, managers should be able to explain how they rank an employee (there should be enough documentation to show why someone received a rank of 1 or 2 rather than a 3 or 4).  Fourth, a manager must have the ability to make tough decisions; finally the fifth, need an understanding of a bigger picture at any level.


Hearing these goals or standards at Citibank made me wonder: how does one come in from the outside as a manager to fix a department that is broken?  I’m not a manager and am happy to stay at the lower tier level of teaching. I suppose there are certain skill sets that people have to move up to the next rung in order to be EFFECTIVE!!!  I’d like to see more of those goals or standards implemented in my own insulated department where I work.  I can effectively dream, can’t I?


Finally, the best thing Dan said in answer to a question about his background was that his undergrad was in English Literature.  He is a reader and analyzed things early on in his career of finance which lent itself well to his first jobs and even now.  My KZ students need to know that reading is the key in order to become better writers.  I want both for them.  But that takes hard work. Some of these masters students need to work hard as well. I caught some cheating last week when they took their midterm on our four prior speakers.  Very enlightening to find out that perhaps over half the MA students were from outside our western university culture.  This place tries to drill it into their students by the fourth year that cheating and plagiarism is verbotten.


I’ll be giving the mid-term exams back to my students tomorrow along with a little pep talk before mid-term break about working on their papers.  I really want them to find out how important it is to read academic journal articles.  You have to have substance in order to be able to have a good final product.


I think my masters students appreciated yet another GREAT speaker who was candid enough about his background and experiences and willing to share his valuable time with us.  Maladetz! Dan! Thank you!!!

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MA Students’ Response to Nestle Values: Quality, Respect, Culture

Last night I gave a short answer mid-term exam to 20 of my masters students.  In the past several weeks I have had four very qualified speakers come from their different organizations to represent what they do in Kazakhstan.  The objective of this class is for my Kazakh students to listen, ask questions and take notes.  The resulting responses were in answer to the following question:  Of the three important Nestle values, which is the most important in Kazakhstan?

 1) Quality (provide an excellent product);

R.S. – Quality is most important for Kazakhstan because there is not much quality products and Nestle is one of the best who provides good nutrition for our people.

A.A. – Quality, because nowadays you can’t find a good product.  The prices of products don’t depend on its quality

 A.D. – Quality is the most important because KZ is going to be a member of WTO, and it is necessary to be competitive in foreign and local market.

 L.S. – I believe that for KZ the most important is Quality because some products arrive to KZ when only month or two is left till expiry date.

 K.L. – Quality is important because of our low quality of stuffs.  Specialists are necessary if we want to develop our country and bring benefits to people.

 A. B. I think in Kazakhstan and in any other country, quality of the product is the most important because Nestle product is mostly produced for children.

 S.Z.– I suppose quality is most important because our country is multicultural and it overcomes the non-discrimination policy but quality is under constant attack of cheaters and long distances can easily spoil Nestle’s products quality.

  2)Respect (no discrimination)

A.V. Respect, Kazakhstan is multinational country.  It is very important that people respect each other (nationality, religion etc.)

 A.T.– Respect other nationality because we live in country where a lot of people from different countries. Second, quality in everywhere to get success.

 D.D. – Respect, do not bribe to make Kazakhstan’s government less corrupted, to teach them how to do things without bribing.

 3)Culture (Nestle gives or takes no bribes)

S.K. – Culture because of Kazakh nation’s mentality

 A.Y. – I think that not giving bribes is the most important for KZ, because customers we will understand that this product is high quality.

 A.T. – Culture, no bribes

 A.I.– Culture is the most important in KZ most of our national companies are money/benefit oriented.

 A.B. – non-corruption, this is most important because it helps to normalize the business ethics inside of Kazakhstan.

 A.A. – Bribes (corruption) as everybody knows, bribes in KZ is well developed, if we eliminate bribes then Quality and equality will be higher

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Photos with Two Speakers from Chevron and Nestle

P9170538My MA graduate students listened to two lectures this past week as part of their English Listening and Speaking course.  Both speakers are friends of mine from outside my university.  They readily agreed and accepted to come and talk with my eager, graduate students.  

P9150530On Sept. 16, Marielena Andino, Project Manager at Chevron talked about “Change Management.”  On Sept. 18 a Financial Director for the Eurasia section of Nestle, Rafael Requena came and talked about “Nestle Principles.” After his talk and answering the students many questions, he handed out big Nestle candy bars.  My students were VERY pleased!  I was too.


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