Putting the pieces of a puzzle together is sometimes a daunting task, but when the puzzle is complete, the feeling of accomplishment is worth the struggle. That’s how I am feeling right now. I have been learning bits and pieces of the greater puzzle and now it’s time to put them all together.
This puzzle all began with me discovering my “why.” Why am I an educator? Of course, there are many reasons for that (the pay is not one of them!). What is my “why” as an educator? Why am I doing this? What do I want to accomplish? I can sum up my philosophy in one sentence:
I want to empower learners with the skills, knowledge, and experiences to become successful 21st-century citizens and inspire them to become lifelong learners.
I now know how I need to accomplish this goal. There are many strategies and steps that must be taken in order to achieve my ultimate goal. I must first take a long, hard look at myself and my communication methods. Am I a good communicator? The book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when the Stakes are High is where I will begin.
In order to execute my innovation plan and my final goal, I first must engage in a crucial conversation with my administrators. A crucial conversation is a discussion between two or more people where: the stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler, 2012). During this conversation, I must start with what I can control-myself. Throughout the conversation, I must constantly ask myself what I really want for me, for others, and for the relationship. Doing this will help resist dangerous stories. I do not wish to come across as a villain, a victim, or helpless during the conversation. I want to come across as Kris Bumsted, a leader prepared to empower learners with the skills, knowledge, and experiences to become successful 21st-century citizens. Deep down, I really do not think there will be much resistance during this dialogue, but if there is I am now prepared.
The book refers to an acronym called STATE.
This is what will influence my conversation skills the most. I must remind myself to stick to the facts.
Facts such as:
- We are a 1:1 Chromebook district, technology is a daily part of students’ and teachers’ lives
- Current professional development for teachers occurs once during the summer
- I utilize blended learning in my classroom
- Research shows that blended learning improves the way students learn
- Our district has the infrastructure to support blended learning.
My story will develop from the facts. The story is about a small junior high leading the county in digital innovation that needs an upgrade to the way instruction and professional development is administered. After I tell my story, surely there will be other facts and conclusions that surface. I must remember to ask for those facts and conclusions and any other meaning and ideas formed by the conversation members.
At the conclusion of the crucial conversation, an action plan will be devised. This will consist of who, what, and by when. If I engage in proper dialogue and remember everything I read, that action plan will look similar to this: Kris Bumsted will administer technology training to students during their core classes. It will be seamless with the content that needs to be covered. The technology used by our district will encourage the blended learning style of instruction. Kris will also be available to train, coach, and mentor teachers on how to introduce blended learning into their classrooms. This role change will occur during the 2018-2019 school year. At this point, I can only hope and utilize all the strategies I have learned.
Many more crucial conversations will be held before my goal is attained. The 4DX model of execution will be invaluable as we (other teachers and I) work towards the goal of blended learning. As a leader at my school, I will help develop wildly important goals (or WIGs). These goals will be small and focused so that they are attainable. The WIG we will start with is:
The nine 6th grade teachers at McGregor Junior High will teach at least one blended learning lesson every month by the end of the 2017-2018 school year.
This is the starter WIG. A main component of the 4DX model is to create and update a scoreboard. I envision a scoreboard such as this:
When all of the WIGs are achieved, my “why” will be accomplished! However, as stated in the 4DX model, McGregor Junior High won’t stop there! Once blended learning becomes a habit for all the teachers, we will develop a new WIG and push forward.
In order to fully execute the 4DX model, I will need to incorporate an influencer strategy, such as the six sources of influence I learned about in the book titled Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change.
The 4DX model and Influencer Strategy are two more pieces to the puzzle. Now the puzzle is complete. There will undoubtedly be some resistance to the shift towards blended learning. I think if the administration is open to trying out my plan, the strategy and leadership skills I now possess will provide a smooth change.
When I first started this particular class through Lamar, I really didn’t see how everything fit together, but since completing the reading assignments, discussions and assignments I now understand how they fit together like puzzle pieces. A puzzle is not complete if pieces are missing. Even though these strategies were introduced separately, achieving organizational change has a much better chance of succeeding when all strategies are deployed together.
Grenny, J., Patterson, K., Maxfield, D., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2012). Influencer: The new science of leading change (2nd edition). New York: McGraw-Hill Education.
McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. New York: Free Press.
Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2012). Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high (2nd edition). New York: McGraw-Hill Education.