Blended Learning in a Nutshell!!!

Welcome as I go through the stages of designing my online course. I feel a good strategy is essential to use a combination of learning theories in order to better personalize the learning experience for the students. My course, Blended Learning in A Nutshell, is going to be developed with this combination in part so that learners could engage with the content and each other while participating in authentic tasks that were meaningful to them.

Below you will catch a glimpse of my class. I am really excited about this adventure and I would hope that you would take this ride with me. capture

I have referenced my  Understanding by Design’s (UbD) Backward Design  (see the original blog post UbD) that outlines the desired results, assessment evidence, and learning plan.

I have also referenced my Learning Outcomes 3-Column Table (see the original blog post Table) that outlines the learning goals, learning activities, and assessment activities for the year. But as I recently decided I will gear my course to educators so see my new table here.

Learning Goals Learning Activities Assessment Activities
Foundational:

Learners will identify the key characteristics of a significant learning environment.

 

Learners will explore and evaluate the various blended learning models.

Online visuals and reading about significant learning environments and blended learning models. Reflect on their current classroom and what changes they want to see Formative feedback on class discussions
Application:

Learners will apply their knowledge of blended learning to design a lesson or unit for their class that will include blended learning experiences.

 

 

Create a lesson plan that incorporates blended learning Lesson or unit plan
Integration:

Learners will explain how their lesson or unit improved by using blended learning.

Use a blended learning model to teach the course and hold discussions with classmates in an online forum

 

Formative feedback on class discussions
Human Dimensions:

Learners will observe the benefits of a blended learning classroom.

Discussions with classmates in an online forum

 

 

Implementation of blended learning lessons in their classroom
Learning-How-to-Learn:

Learners will amend lesson plans to include blended learning opportunities.

Lesson planning session to facilitate the implementation of blended learning Lesson plans and videos or blog posts about blended learning in their classroom

 

 

READY FOR THIS ADVENTURE!!!!

Summarizing Creating Significant Learning Environment

When improving student learning I feel digital tools are the best to use.  But even with these tools we have to focus on what expressive learning is and how to adopt that in our classrooms. When learning becomes the center of our focus everything else will fall into place. The five weeks in this class I have been able to study meaningful learning and essential motivations to help develop my learning environment.

In my first week, I studied what made for the most significant learning environments. I learned that learning happens naturally in different situations all the time. During  the second week I researched authentic learning and created a learning philosophy. The third week focused  more on the aligning outcomes assessments, and activities that I want my learners to achieve over a year. After aligning goals, assessments and learning objectives in the fourth week I created a learning plan. In the fifth and final week I devoted my studies to Carol Dweck and her research on growth and fixed mindsets.

These past five weeks have given me a chance to reflect on how to create a significant learning environment for my students. Students want to be challenged and successful. Most importantly I have had a chance to reflect on the fact that not only students but even teachers want to learn. Students need to come first when planning learning environments. Teachers need to take the time to learn their students so they can create best learning environment possible.

As I use my innovative learning plan to guide student learning, and sharing my plan with others, I will center my focus on my students and how they learning.  When we get to know our students, we can figure out what digital tools are needed to enhance learning. Out students should always be our focus, and we should provide them with natural learning opportunities.

 

Growth Mindset

Image result for fixed and growth mindsetThere are many people who have had the “I can’t” feeling. I’ve met people who are not good at public speaking, sports, and thinking about myself not good at math. But that is a fixed mindset. After finishing this week of class I will strive to keep and continue a growth mindset. Instead of saying what I “can’t “do I will say I can’t do it “yet”.

Carol Dweck has done widespread research on fixed and growth mindsets. In the video shown in class Dweck describes the difference in each mindset, how they impact our motivations, and how we word our praise can influence these mindsets. A fixed mindset is the belief that we have an intrinsic ability level, and that once we begin to fail we have reached our peak. This mindset can lead to some people not wanting a challenge, playing the blame game when we mess up, and don’t take kindly to criticism. A growth mindset is the belief that there is growth when we make mistakes, and when we have determination and continue to practice we grow. A person with a growth mindset considers failure a step towards success. A person with a growth mindset will take on new challenges, and ask for help and will take criticism. With this mindset, these people will be successful in whatever the put their minds to. A growth mindset is important to have because it can be the difference between overall success and failure. An individual with a fixed mindset, will complain, blame, and possibly quit when they fail because they view failure as a shameful thing.

Dweck offers a great resource to get people started on a growth mindset with four steps.

  • Recognize the “voice” of a fixed mindset.
  • Make the mindful choice to develop a growth mindset.
  • Answer fixed mindset thoughts with growth mindset answers.
  • Live out a growth mindset.

As a person who believes strongly in the power of a growth mindset, I will always encourage my students to build their growth mindsets as well. I will help them work through the four steps that I mentioned above. I will have them voice their fixed mindset thoughts aloud, then answer their thoughts with growth mindset answers while encouraging them to make the choice to have a growth mindset. And finally challenge them to act out their growth mindsets. Making this a practice will eventually become a natural thing for them. When developing a growth, mindset is it must be maintained constantly. It is very easy to fall back into a fixed mindset when we don’t focus on growth and reflection. That is the main reason I will encourage my students daily to continuously develop their growth mindset. When a student feels like he or she has messed up I will keep them focused on a growth mindset that will help keep them strong-minded and become successful.

Another important step that I will use to develop a growth mindset in my students is to introduce them to the word “yet.” I encourage my students to change their thoughts from “I can’t,” to “I can’t do this yet.” I try to start with something that interests my students, and will engage the students.

Developing a growth mindset is a huge part of my innovation plan. When the school year starts, I will help students learn about growth and fixed mindsets, and to help students understand that they have the choice to think one way or the other. I will allow students to reflect and to grow in areas that they demonstrate weaknesses and challenge themselves.  With a growth mindset, our students will be able to self-confidently handle learning and any other challenges that come their way.

References

Dweck, C. (2006-2010) How can you change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. http://mindsetonline.com/changeyourmindset/firststeps/index.html

Dweck, C. (2006-2010) Mindset online. http://mindsetonline.com/index.html

 

Understanding by Design’s (UbD)

As I continue on my journey in graduate school, I am actually learning although at times I am overwhelmed.  My mom has been diagnosed with cancer for months and its taking its toll on our family. In spite of I will continue my master’s program because her strength and courage is pushing me to succeed.  This week’s assignment was creating a learning plan using the Understanding by Design (UbD) Model by Wiggins and McTighe. This is a backwards design model, and in my opinion is very similar to Fink’s 3 Column table.  When using an UbD model, it starts with identifying the desired results and skills. Next, you will determine what a performing task is. Finally, you will plan your learning experiences and instruction.

Image result for understanding by design

 

With this assignment I was able to use the learning goals ( Foundational, Integration, and Application, etc.) and input them in my Established Goals.  Everything flowed and kept me on track. The UbD model  is more detailed, and asks essential questions that will foster inquiry and understanding for learning.  I have gained a deeper understanding of effective planning using both the UbD Model and Fink’s 3 Column Table. I think the UbD model will be most valuable to my innovation plans. It will also be beneficial to teachers in developing goals for their classrooms. Below you will see my UbD:

Stage 1—Desired Results
Established Goals:

·        Students will analyze the roles and functions of individuals within a group.

·        Students will work together to analyze a given problem or question.

·        Students will work together to brainstorm and pre-plan a method of research for finding the solution or answer.

Understandings:

Students will understand that

·        Everyone in the  group has an important role to play

·        A problem or question consists of a variety of components to be investigated

·        A pre-plan and plan must be in place when investigating

Essential Questions:

·        How can a group function successfully and competently?

·        What approach or approaches can be taken when analyzing a problem or question?

·        What steps can be taken to begin conducting and organizing for their research?

Students will know

·        Group roles and names;  know that collaboration is key

·        Problems or questions consist of various components and are perceived differently

·        Pre-planning and planning are a vital part of organizing research

Students will be able to

·        Collaborate to identify, define, and assign group roles

·        Analyze a problem or question and consider other perspectives

·        Pre-plan and plan for a long-term research project

Stage 2—Assessment Evidence
Performance Tasks:

·        Groups—Students will identify, define, and assign group roles within their group.

·        Problem or question—Students will analyze a given problem or question by breaking it down into various components and record each individual’s perspective of what the problem or question means to them.

·        Pre-planning and planning—Students will come up with and pre-plan the steps to begin conducting and organizing their so they can find a solution or answer and then create a draft of an outline of their plan.

Other Evidence:

·        K-W-L Chart—Students will identify what they know, what they want to know, and what they’ve learned by using a K-W-L chart online.

·        Individual Reflection—Students will reflect on their individual roles with the project by using an online journal.

·        Group Reflection—Students will reflect on the group’s progression by using an online journal

Stage 3—Learning Plan
Learning Activities:

1.     Begin by telling students established goals. Students will think-pair-share about the meaning of the established goals. Clarify any misconceptions and explain established goals in detail. W, R

2.     Create groups randomly and students will sit with their group. T, O

3.     Have groups define and discuss the words “group” and “role” and present their findings. E, R

4.     As a whole group, discuss the essential question: How can a group function successfully and competently? W, H

5.     Have students identify, define, and assign group roles within their group. They will create an agreement specifying each individual’s role and responsibilities. E, T

6.     Introduce problem or question to each group. As a whole group, discuss the essential question: What approach or approaches can be taken when analyzing a problem or question? Have groups define and record each individual’s viewpoint of what the problem or question means to them. Then, have groups analyze the given problem or question by breaking it down into various components. W, H, E, O

7.     Have students begin to fill in their K-W-L chart using an electronic format such as Google Docs and Google Apps. Students will identify what they know, what they want to know, and what they have learned about their given problem or question. R, E-2, T, O

8.     As a whole group, discuss the essential question: What steps can be taken to begin conducting and organizing research? W, H

9.     Have groups think and pre-plan the steps to begin conducting and organizing research in order to find a solution or answer to their given problem or question. They will create a draft of an outline of their plan using an electronic format. R, T

10.  Have students reflect on their individual role during the project using an online journal entry. R, E-2, T

11.  Have groups reflect on the group’s progress during the project using an online journal entry.. R, E-2

Wiggins and McTighe’s (2005) WHERETO is an acronym that highlights the key elements and considerations for instructional planning (p. 197).

W = Ensure that students understand WHERE the unit is headed, and WHY.

H = HOOK students in the beginning and HOLD their attention throughout.

E = EQUIP students with necessary experiences, tools, knowledge, and know-how to meet performance goals.

R = Provide students with numerous opportunities to RETHINK big ideas, REFLECT on progress, and REVISE their work.

E = Build in opportunities for students to EVALUATE progress and self-assess.

T = Be TAILORED to reflect individual talents, interests, styles, and needs.

O = Be ORGANIZED to optimize deep understanding as opposed to superficial coverage.

References:

Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2006). Understanding by design [2nd Edition].  Upper Saddle River, New Jersy: Pearson Education, Inc.

 

Aligning Outcomes, Assessment and Activities

As part of my assignment I had to create a 3 column table. You can view my table below.

Learning Goals Learning Activities Assessment Activities
Foundational:

Students will identify and familiarize themselves with the use of technology devices they will use to create their presentations/projects.

Students will do blended learning via station rotations.

At some centers, struggling students will strengthen their content knowledge by working with a teacher or using an Internet site tailored to instructional videos. Other stations have students work individually on an interactive learning program, in small groups on enrichment projects, or receive peer tutoring.

Peer discussions and students will create and present their presentation/project.
Application:

Students will study the foundational skills necessary to personalize their learning and apply those skills when creating different types of multi-medias.

View other students’ projects and review visuals used for enhancements. Interpretation, role playing, group discussions

 

Integration:

Students will collaborate, develop and produce presentations using digital media.

Work in small groups to create a digital project. Reflection, Discussion and

peer observations

Human Dimensions:

Students will look at and select personal experiences or ideas that will them develop and create their presentation/project.

Analyze and push students to take ownership of their presentation/project. Reflection on their presentation/project

Discuss their reflection with peers

Learning-How-to-Learn:

Students will reflect and identify with peers by communicating and collaborating with the group to help with their presentation/project.

Students will develop a creative digital project using digital tools of their choice. Discussion and peer observation

Feedback

 

Questions for Formulating Significant Learning Goals

“A year (or more) after this course is over, I want and hope that students will want to learn and have fun while doing. I want them to realize that if they fail use that as a step to success.”

My Big Harry Audacious Goal (BHAG) for the course is: Students will successfully plan, implement, and create a digital presentation.

Foundational Knowledge 

  • What key information (e.g., facts, terms, formulae, concepts, principles, relationships, etc.) is/are important for students to understand and remember in the future?
  • Students will need to understand and remember the reading and language arts standards that they have learned in this grade as well as previous grades. Students will also need to understand how to collaborate with each other to accomplish a goal. It is also important that students create an organized plan to help guide them throughout the project.
  • What key ideas (or perspectives) are important for students to understand in this course?
  • Reading is fundamental and can be applied to real world scenarios in meaningful ways.
  • A team can accomplish tasks that would be impossible for an individual.

Application Goals

  • What kinds of thinking are important for students to learn?
  • Critical thinking, in which students study and assess
  • Creative thinking, in which students visualize and create
  • Practical thinking, in which students solve problems and make decisions
  • Students will need to utilize critical thinking, creative thinking, and practical thinking in order to successfully meet the objective.

What important skills do students need to gain?

  • Teamwork, communication and listening skills, conflict resolution, computer and network skills, and public speaking skills.

 

 

  • Do students need to learn how to manage complex projects?
  • Students need to learn how to manage complex projects. With the project having complex parts it is a must that students learn how to handle issues as they arise and learn from mistakes. It is vital that students learn how to work together.

Integration Goals

  • What connections (similarities and interactions) should students recognize and make?
  • Students are expected to make connections within the content area in several ways. Students will also make connections between communication and reading when creating their presentations.
  • Among material in this course and the students’ own personal, social, and/or work life?

– This will align with personal goals as students will be able to choose the literature they want to retell and present. Students will also work together to choose to work on aspects of the project that they most interested in. Students will get a sense of purpose from the completion of this project.

Human Dimensions Goals

  • What could or should students learn about themselves?
  • Students will learn they have a voice. Students will learn to summarize (reenact) in their own way via digital media.
  • What could or should students learn about understanding others and/or interacting with them?
  • Students should learn that interacting with others can many times be a give and take situation. We all have something to bring to the table, so we shouldn’t expect one person to do everything.

Caring Goals

  • What changes/values do you hope students will adopt?
  • I hope that my students will learn to be more creative and take their time to plan and implement instead of rushing to complete the project. To take time and pride in their work.

 

“Learning-How-to-Learn” Goals

  • What would you like for students to learn about:
  • My students need to learn that things only happen when we set them in drive and go.
  • I want students to learn from their peers as they build relationships and share ideas on the project. I also want students to utilize books and websites to learn information as well.
  • Students will be expected to create an organized plan to help them become self learners. Students should utilize peers, mentors, and web and print resources to meet learning goals.

 

Learning Philosophy

My learning philosophy is based largely on my experiences as a student and as an assistant in the classroom. Perhaps, the most important aspect of my philosophy is that students learn best in an environment where they feel they are respected, shown kindness and care. They learn best in an environment where they feel its ok take risks and make mistakes. It is my job as a teacher to create this environment.  My relationship with each student is the most important tool I have in the classroom.

I believe in fair learning opportunities. We all know that students learn at different paces and to provide a fair education, I must meet them where they are. Students learn best when provided with high quality, authentic learning experiences that allow them to make connections. Students must have a reason to want to learn what they are learning, and apply it to their life. I believe that there must be a passion to want to learn something to achieve this type of learning. If we observe our students and see where their aspirations and passions lie, we can use that to tap into some very strong learning.

As a teacher, this allows me to have flexibility in filling in gaps in learning and stretching those who already have some knowledge.  To achieve this, it is important for me to act as a facilitator of content rather than the expert. In doing this, I hope for my students to explore the content and what they are passionate about, as well as create connections to their own experiences. I feel that this is another of my top focuses as a teacher because I know that I learn best when I can make sense of things in my own way. Everyone learns and takes in information differently; therefore, I must provide the opportunities for students to make sense of things in their own way.

In addition to passion and application, I believe that constraint needs to be implemented to help unlock potential. Authors Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown write about constraint as a key component in authentic learning (Douglas and Thomas2011.) The constraint in a situation sparks creativity and gives our minds a place to start working.

Dan Pink speaks about what motivates us in the video above (Pink2010.) Motivation is a powerful learning tool; it explains why many of us will spend hours on end working on our classroom lessons, environment, etc., knowing we probably won’t ever be compensated for our time. Pink explains that mastery, autonomy, and purpose are the three factors that impact motivation the most. This makes sense, as many of us constantly seek to better ourselves and make an impact on the world. When I think of myself I see me as a learner and would love to the opportunity to make an impact on the world while I am learning.

All the above Ideas pretty much sums up what I believe is the key to learning. We all want to have a purpose for learning that meets our personal passions and inspirations and align those inspirations in a way that let us make a difference. Most importantly, learning is meant to be natural, and we love to learn when it happens naturally. Now that I have defined my learning philosophy, I can link it to how I teach to inspire my students. I need to link learning to each of my student’s goals and aspirations to produce passion. I need to bring learning back to that level of natural exploration and communication among peers. I want to inspire my students to have an attitude that “failure” is not an option.  I want to inspire my students to love learning and to understand what it is in the most authentic sense. It is important to make these considerations as I plan and create my learning environment for my students.

Annotated Bibliography

Thomas, D., Brown, J. S. (2011, January 4) A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change

In this book the authors describe authentic learning and compare authentic learning to traditional learning taking place in schools. The authors argue that creating a learning environment that supports authentic learning will increase student success and passion to learn. The Authors encourage utilizing play, collaboration, and imagination to create a learning environment. 

The authors successfully argue their point by offering real life examples of authentic learning occurring. These examples let us look in on the lives of individuals who are learning at such a deep level. The examples provided by the authors, as well as the research provided in the text create a convincing and inspiring point of what we can do to inspire the next generation of learners. 

Pink, D. (2010, April 1) RSA Animate: Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc.

In his video, Dan Pink describes how the current carrot and stick model of motivation is ineffective when mental effort is involved. Pink showcases research studies that help him to make his point. Pink then describes what research has found to be successful in motivating people when mental effort is involved.

Dan Pink effectively utilizes the research effectively in this video. The research not only helps him to make his point that the current method of motivation is ineffective, but Pink also uses the research to offer a solution to motivate people. Pink takes the data and makes it accessible for others in an engaging way. 

Significant Learning Environments

How to Build Safe Learning Environments for Students

 

 

I recently bought my dog a new “squeaky” toy. I would laugh as I watched him sling it around but when he bit down on it where it would squeak he would immediately run away. I eventually noticed him “investigating” different parts of the toy till he figured out which part of the toy made the “squeaky” sound and surprisingly that is the part he avoided if he could. I said to myself my crazy dog but in reality meaningful learning had taken place while he was having fun. As educators we need to make changes that would allow students to engage in their learning. The word “play” has become a bad word in the school system. Students now are not expected to have fun and learning is not supposed to be easy or engaging. I think with blended learning, as a teacher I would relinquish some control in the classroom by becoming a facilitator and this would allow students to bring in their own passions, creativity, and imagination into learning

In his book, A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change, authors Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown discuss what true and meaningful learning is and how it looks in different situations. Thomas and Brown argue that natural learning is much more powerful than the traditional style of learning that happens in our schools. I immediately thought of my dog, which is why I included him in my blog.  I watched him explore that “squeaky” toy, and he was completely engrossed in the task. Through his own exploration, he discovered where the squeak came from.  Natural learning is so potent that it is something we should all try to tap into when teaching.

 

In the video above, Douglas Thomas discusses some of the keys to tapping into natural learning. Passion is fundamental to pure and natural learning.  Thomas also credits imagination as being a key piece in pure and natural learning.  The last but equally important key in authentic learning surprised me. Thomas argues that constraint is needed to unleash the potential of natural learning. After reflecting on this for a while, it began to make more sense. I strongly agree that pure and natural learning is powerful and significant. The challenge is now how to build natural learning into the foundation of my learning environment. I have not planned everything out so I can accomplish this, but I do have the first steps in place to make this a reality.  I will transition myself from the sole information source in the classroom. I will several sources of information on hand in the classroom such as peers, and hey the internet. I plan to become that facilitator and taking a step back and letting the students work at their own “natural” pace.  I also plan to think of creative constraints to use when assessing my students.  This will help spark imagination and creativity with my students.

In my final step I plan to learn what my students’ passions are.  This can come in more ways than one such as observing them individually and see what grasp their attention in school or by simply asking them their hobbies. Once I do that I will cultivate that passion to spark natural learning.  This plan adds to my innovation plan that will enhance the blended learning experience because I will be creating a natural learning environment as a foundation. This will increase learning potential and student achievement within the blended learning station rotation model.

I think my greatest challenge is the shift to creating a significant learning environment.  . It is no simple task and I don’t believe it can be made without ensuring the proper foundations are in place. Another challenge is still being held accountable for teaching distinct objectives. To meet this challenge I will build peer tutoring and online learning as a platform to learn required content. I also plan to match student passions to the objectives. This will allow me to build natural learning into my class environment upsetting the administration. Adopting this plan into my school can have a great impact over time. I’m sure other teachers will notice how much fun my students are having while they learn, and they will wonder what’s going on in there. Their curiosity will lead to asking me questions and in turn I will show and help them set up their own plan to creating a significant learning environment in their classroom as well. The domino that will take place will be rewarding and remarkable.

Getting peers to think more holistically about students and learning environments is a challenge within itself. Educators have been drilled and trained for so long to shove information at our students that we tend to have a very tapered view about learning. Our focus needs to be on the students and how they are learning. Most teachers want to have happy and creative students, and this can happen when students are learning naturally.

My view of learning is much broader now than ever. Everyone is different, and we learn best when we learn naturally. Yes I can admit that I struggle to see the whole picture of learning, but my view is broadening every day and it is defining who I am as a teacher.

References

Thomas, D., Brown, J. S. (2011, January 4) A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change

Thomas, D. (2012, September 12) A new culture of learning, Douglas Thomas at TEDxUFM. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM80GXlyX0U

Image retrieved from https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/create-safe-learning-environments

 

 

Self-Differentiated Leadership

I have always wanted to be a leader. My mom used to tell me when I was younger I always wanted to be a boss. I had no problem “telling” people what to do. But being able to tell is not the only quality of “leadership material”. I believe that most people feel this way that just tell people what to do and it happens. But, despite this some manage to become effective leaders.  These last few weeks have shown me that not all of our leaders were born with a natural ability to lead, and it doesn’t require special qualities to be an effective leader. Effective leaders choose to learn the tools to become a leader and use those tools to make their leadership effective. Even if you have no plans of ever being in a leadership role, some of the tools that leaders learn can improve other areas of your life as well.

In recent posts I have stated how we as people let our hearts be the determining factor in almost every situation. We tend to let our emotion lead most of our everyday decisions. Because we let our hearts and emotions leads us then as a leader we have to start with the heart. Start with a goal, and form that goal into a “why” statement. When we share the goals that are set in our hearts others and let them why then watch how it can and will inspire others to help us with our cause. Effective leaders start with the heart. My plan to lead our organization to effective change is to start with a powerful why statement that strikes at the heart and gets others motivated to want to change. You can view my “why” statement here.

Influence is a powerful tool to start change. Most effective leaders use several influences to lead. This classed introduced me to this wonderful book Influencer: The new science of leading change by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Mayfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. This book introduced to me the “influencer model. This model is so important because it displays what motivates and influences us as humans.  To effectively create change leaders will use most or all sources to make that happen. I also plan to use every one of these tools to influence our group to make powerful changes that will affect the lives of our students in a positive manner.  You can view my influencer strategy here.

Effective leaders realize that discipline is the next step to implement and execute change.  The Four disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals written by Chris McChesnsey, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling gives us disciplines, to execute effective change in our organization. The key ideas of these disciplines is to focus on a few important goals, look to change what can be changed to meet those goals, measure said changes, and create an accountability system. These ideas help us to stay focused on what is important in accomplishing change. Effective leaders are disciplined in execution. Here is my outlined execution plan that will ensure our blended learning initiative is successfully executed.

Until earlier this week I had poorly preconceived notions about leadership. My thought was that effective leaders knew how to regulate and control others. This is not the case. Instead, effective leaders know how to regulate and control themselves. This idea comes from the book, a failure of nerve: Leadership in the age of the quick fix by Edwin Friedman. This notion that an effective leadership stems from the ability to separate one’s own feelings and thoughts had a huge impact on my ideas of leadership. This idea put leadership within my reach. This is why I now believe that we all have the capacity for leadership. Leaders don’t have special social or emotional powers, but they do know how to effectively self differentiate.

If I am to bring about a change on our campus, I have to be a self-differentiated leader.  Friedman says that “leadership through self-differentiation is not easy; learning techniques and imbibing data are far easier.”  I see this in our every day school lives.  According to Friedman, the biggest challenges a leader faces are emotional triangles and sabotage.

Emotional triangles form in every kind of situation.  In fact, Friedman states that there is no such thing as a “two-person relationship.”  I can apply the same principles to leaders in our school.  There is the leader, the staff member, and the new idea of blended learning in the classroom.  How the leader handles the third wheel is what makes a self-differentiated leader.  I know there will be resistance.  I know there will be anxiety and stress.  The second challenge I will face is sabotage.  As a matter of fact, sabotage is “evidence of one’s effectiveness.”  By focusing on the larger picture and not the technique, I can remain strong while “swimming upstream.”  I should also look to other teachers who are motivated and resilient.

In conclusion, to become a self-differentiated leader and ensure the success of a blended learning initiative, I must focus on being totally self-aware of emotional triangles that are ever-present and realize that others will always try to bring it down.  I have to maintain a sense of myself, watch out for the symptoms of emotional triangles and sabotage, and focus on my responsibilities as a leader.

 

References

Grenny, J., Patterson, K., Mayfield, D., McMillan, R., Swizzler, A. (2013, May 14) Influencer: The new science of leading change. 2nd ed. Vital Smarts L.L.C.

McChesney, C.,  Covey, S., Huling, J. (2012, April 24) The Four disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. Free Press.

Grenny, J., Patterson, K., McMillan, R., Swizzler, A. (2011, September 16) Crucial conversations; Tools for talking when stakes are high. McGraw Hill.

 

 

Installing 4DX

The Four Disciplines of Execution (4DX) model offers what I believe can be the bridge to successfully changing behavior. The 4DX model comes from the book, The Four disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals written by Chris McChesnsey, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling. This book describes life’s overpowering demands as the whirlwind. The problem with the whirlwind is that it has a sense of urgency that many times take the place of important goals to the point that the goals fail.

The purpose of the 4DX model is to help a team or individual to focus on giving their goal equal urgency with discipline. Discipline can be very hard to achieve, but as the quote states above, it is a much better alternative to the regret of failure. The book lists five stages of change that occur when implementing the 4DX model.

Getting an Understanding

It is during this stage that we will be addressing the first discipline of execution, focusing on our wildly important goals (WIG). The most important consideration when creating our goals is that we don’t try to accomplish too many goals at one time. This is the fastest way to kill a program. I plan on focusing on decreasing behavior problems and increasing student engagement. I feel in order to achieve higher test scores and content master you have to engage our students and have classroom management. Our specific wig will be to decrease documented conduct problems by fifty percent by the end of the school year.

Let’s Get It Started

Meeting as a team we will begin the transition school-wide. During this transition I will make this process easy and least stressful. This will be done by having staff development and team leaders that can help other peers who may seem hesitant and who is struggling with the change.

I think once teachers become re comfortable with my innovation plan the excitement will begin. Teachers will begin to push this initiative.  At this point I will implement the second discipline of execution, acting on lead measures. The lead measures that I plan to use is to incorporate student-led learning into our classrooms and to use a blended learning station rotation model to allow students the freedom to work at a pace that is suitable for them. Student-led learning and blended learning can both be directly influenced by the teacher, and these lead measures can be used as leverage to push the lag measure (the wildly important goal) forward. Since teachers are required to create lesson plans for each lesson, we can measure the amount of student-led learning through these plans.

Enhancement

By now teachers will begin tailor and modify the innovation plan and this is when they will begin to see the significant positive impact in their classrooms. I think this is when the competitive mode will kick in amongst the teachers. Teachers will be looking at the scoreboard often to see how progress is coming along. This ties in well with the Influencer Model’s idea of accountability.

This is where the third Discipline of execution of keeping a compelling scoreboard will be implemented. A compelling scoreboard needs to be highly visible, include lag and lead measures, and it needs to show the teachers if they are being successful or not. The scoreboard should be easy and simple to read and that is why I plan to use a line graph to showcase progress on our lag and lead measures. One graph will be used for lead measures, and the other for the lag measure. Each lead measure will be represented by a different color. I think this is a quick and simple way to show progress. For visibility, I plan to place the scoreboard in the workroom. This is the area that all teachers and employees in the school visit on a regular basis. It is a great place to allow visibility. To show the team how they successful they are being, there will also be target goals marked on the lag and lead measures line graphs.

 

Behaviors

To ensure that the excitement and engagement for this initiative doesn’t easily fade away over time, it is important to keep this process as a normal behavior. I plan to hold weekly meetings to discuss progress and make plans to continue that progress. As we continue to focus on our innovation plan and its benefits, it will start to become second nature.

Now we can focus on the final discipline of execution, creating a cadence of accountability. This discipline is supreme, because it holds everyone to the standards that have been set. To set a pace of accountability, I plan to meet with my group of team leaders on a weekly basis. During this meeting we will report and reflect on our previous weeks plans and actions, review the scoreboard and measure our current status and create a plan to accomplish before the next week based on our review. Team leaders will then report back to the teachers that they are responsible for to review the events of the meeting.

In summary, the 4DX model is an effective way to focus on important goals and to form behaviors that will help to accomplish those goals. So many of my teachers feel that blended learning will be just another mandate that goes away because there is never any accountability. By setting up standing meetings, sticking to them, and “hunting” down those who have not attended, teachers will see that we are now going to have some accountability in this process. This will go a long ways in helping to execute a change in my building.

 

 References

4 Disciplines of Execution model image retrieved from http://franklincoveysouthasia.com/events/4disciplinesofexecution/assets/img/discipline1.png

McChesney, C.,  Covey, S., Huling, J. (2012, April 24) The Four disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. Free Press