Beyond the Classroom
What qualifies someone to be called a leader is their ability to influence other behaviors to produce change (Grenny, Patterson, Maxfield, McMillan & Switzer, 2013). To lead others, I used the tools that the Digital Learning and Leading Master’s program has provided to provide teachers with ways to innovate their own classroom. I used components of the 4DX (four disciplines of execution), Influencer, and Crucial Conversations. Putting these resources into action, allowed other teachers to witness how these useful tools were critical in putting an innovation plan into place.
I followed the Four Disciplines of Execution by developing a goal, acting on this goal, creating a scoreboard and accountability (McChesney, Covey, & Huling, 2012). I established goals and had several conversations with administration and instructional coaches about my plan to hold myself accountable throughout the year. I created a scoreboard poster to put outside my classroom for students to view their progress, increase competition, and for other teachers to view. This lead to conversations with other teachers about the purpose of the scoreboard. The conversations motivated other teachers to implement similar competitive aspects into their classroom and understanding the importance of keeping accountability when goal setting.
As department head, I was able to use the information from the Influencer to provide critical information and guidance to provide vital behaviors, look for crucial moments, and notice the obvious (Grenny, Patterson, Maxfield, McMillan & Switzer, 2013). I held monthly meetings to collaborate with the team and communicate information. These meetings provided technology support and ways that they can implement effective change in their classrooms. Moreover, I took advantage of crucial moments when teachers needed assistance with technology. Specifically, I assisted the Art teacher showing her how to use a LMS and how to embed videos. I noticed the obvious lack of technology from our department and at the beginning of the year brought to my principal’s attention. Having conversations with other middle school teachers I understood that our school was provided significantly less funding for supplies for the CTE (Career & Technology) department. The principal assessed the situation and was able to match the amount provided to other schools within the district. This lead to purchasing needed software, cameras, and chrome books for students.
Through the book, Crucial Conversations, I realized the most influential people are those that build relationships by mastering important conversations (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzer, 2012). This principle stuck with me throughout the year and led me having some critical conversations I would have stayed away from previously. Specifically, there was a severe behavior situation in my classroom that lead to an office referral. I was disappointed to discover both students arrived back to class, receiving no discipline. Instead of becoming frustrated, I had a conversation with the administration. This communication provided the critical insight that I was lacking. The administrators were unable to place the students in In School Suspension because of the district policy, a technicality. If I had not addressed the situation through this conversation, I would have remained upset and missed an opportunity to continue building relationships with administrators.
Sharing the Innovation
One of the most critical components that I have learned this past year is the importance of collaboration. I have been lacking collaboration because I am the only one on campus teaching specific courses. However, I discovered that real collaboration does not have to be with colleagues within the school or even district. Through technology, I can use PLN’s (professional learning networks) to communicate, share ideas, and grow as an educator. I plan to promote and communicate my innovation project not just within the district, but beyond. I will use both my eportofilo and social media to share my struggles and successes this past year. I have spent most of my time being a consumer in order to develop a solid plan for my innovation plan. I believe that I can now share the information I have gained so that others can have a successful implementation of technology for their classes.
Lessons Learned for the Next Innovation
Moving forward I will take parts of all the resources I have used throughout my blended learning initiative when implementing another innovation. This past year has taught me that anything is possible, but to focus on one large goal. Once the goal is established, it is important to develop a plan and set small goals leading up to the main goal. There were many days that I felt frustrated, overwhelmed and exhausted, but I was grounded by focusing on what I needed to accomplish for that day. When I was able to see the big picture but set smaller milestones, the work seemed obtainable. When I plan on implementing my next innovation project I understand the importance of planning and setting a solid foundation to make the goal clear and possible.
Grenny, J., Patterson, K., Maxfield, D., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2013). Influencer: The new science of leading change: 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education
McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. New York, NY: Free Press.
Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2012). Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high. Columbus, OH: McGraw Hill.