I’m really glad that we had this week to get our initial ideas down. Some of the blogs I read were initial ideas and others were much more developed. I loved having this time to read others thoughts and be reminded of all the topics we talked about this semester! It really felt like a mini study session with our peers.
I read Sara’s philosophy of adaptation and she focused on the aspects of PBL and being a 21st century teacher. These are topics that I have not mentioned in my paper yet, but I think it is important to talk about them. Having a 21st century classroom requires change and being open to new ideas. It also requires being a leader in the process.
I also read Larissa’s philosophy of adaptation and she very nicely stated her vision statement that included many aspects from this semester. She talks about our changing world, understanding the change process, and participating in new learning.
My peer’s ideas this week have been inspiring and made me recognize that I can include many more topics that I have covered already this semester into my paper. My next steps will be to re-read my blogs and add in topics that support my philosophy of adaptation.
When it comes to change, resistance is typically the first reaction along with anxiety of the unknown. As we adapt to change, certain aspects of leadership can make the adaptation of change go smoothly. As a special education teacher, adaptation is a word that I encounter quite often. However, it is usually when referring to students and the work that they do. Thinking about leadership, helping adults adapt to change has many similarities and differences than helping students adapt to change.
One of the first steps in adaptation as a leader is to have a strong moral purpose. As a teacher, I believe that the most important purpose to have is to be there for the students and do what is best to make them learn. When I need to make a decision that I am conflicted about, when I ask myself, “what is best for the kids?” it typically narrows down the choices and presents a clear answer. Leadership in education requires a moral purpose that inspires others and makes them feel confident that the leader is making the decisions for the right reasons.
Another thing I believe is very important in leading through adaptation is communication. Leaders that have clear modes of communication can make all members feel heard and can clearly convey her message. As a special education teacher, I need to make sure I am in communication with many different different members of a team. We have a common moral purpose of doing what is best for the student and need to be in communication to make sure that the plan is followed. This can be difficult when working with so many students, but the moral purpose that drives us all hold us accountable to collaboration and communication about each student.
Through communication, we are also challenged by those who do not agree with us. When we have team members that do not agree, it forces us to dig deeper into our own ideas and back ourselves up with real data or it forces us to take a new perspective and try a new idea. Either way, we are learning and finding the best methods to serve our students. Disruptions such as disagreeing with another member on the team, or a disruption made from a leader, can lead to coherence making. The disruption, or in some cases change, can make all members continue to find the best solutions to problems encountered on a daily basis.
This week focused on controlled disruption and coherence making. When asking for change, leaders need to do it in a way that is controlled and not too many disruptive changes at one time. Throughout the process, the leader needs to embark on coherence making actions to collaborate with those involved first hand in the day to day actions of the organization. I learned not only from other this week, but my thoughts promoted a diversity of ideas with my peers.
I learned about different belief systems that teachers may have from Sara. I had never heard these before, but I can see these in myself and those that I work with. They remind me of “The Five Love Languages,” when you know what someone’s belief or language is, clear and more effective communication can take place.
Larissa shared ways to create cohesion during disturbances. I thought this was a very helpful list to keep in mind. I know it helps me when I have specific things to focus on as a leader. These insure that you are on the straight and narrow path and covers your bases to make sure that collaboration happens with all parties.
My thoughts impacted the learning of Natalie, Sarah, and Larissa. Natalie liked what I said about communicating as a leader and that we need to take a risk, ask for feedback, and share data. Sarah had clarified thoughts about her mentorship. She didn’t realize that it was a controlled disruption for the mentee and herself. Learning to mentor peers also takes time and work! Larissa connected with the communication aspect of the blog post. She noted that her school willingly receives feedback.
Overall, the main aspect of this week seemed to involve communication and empathy. As a leader, stepping into the shoes of others and communicating clearly.
Week 12: Consider your own context within your school and with your mentee. How can understanding of controlled disruption and coherence making impact your leadership of peers at this time, and at this level?
Coherence making is critical in the face of change. According to Fullan (2001), it involves self-organizing and strange attractors to promote unity when presented with a disruption. Effective self-organizing creates new ways of establishing relationships. One way leaders can reorganize is by creating innovative situations where they are “on the ground,” so to speak, seeing the interactions from all aspects of an organization (Fullan, 2001, p. 115). Llopis (2013), says in regards to how the most effective leaders solve problems:
“Breaking down silos allows a leader to more easily engage their employees to get their hands dirty and solve problems together. It becomes less about corporate politicking and more about finding resolutions and making the organization stronger.”
Fullan (2001) reiterates this over and over again in his text. Leaders who involve those who actually face the challenges in decision making will see much more success than top-down decision making. The second characteristic in coherence making are “strange attractors,” these include experiences that solidify the energy and commitment of employees. They “possess the magnetic luring power of exploring moral purpose through a series of change experiences, supported by collaborative relationships, that generate and sort out new knowledge” (Fullan, 2001, p. 116). With strong moral purpose and time to collaborate, teachers can create ways to improve because they know what they need (Sanford, 2013).
When controlled disruption happens, or productive disturbances, to keep an organization growing and changing, a leader needs to focus on coherence making. Within a mentoring relationship, often the mentee is undergoing a controlled disruption. The mentee is not only facing change, but involved in the problem solving process. Within the mentorship that I participated in this semester, the technology was new to me and the mentee. We really needed to put our heads together to do what was best for the student. With what I knew about behavior and technology and her experience with speech pathology, we were able to do some beginning work with implementing the device. As a leader, “We need to communicate when we're taking a risk, asking for feedback, sharing any data that we gather, and then visibly self-assessing and reflecting on the results” (Tormala, 2016). Throughout the mentorship, though my role was a leader, the mentee and I were absolutely working together and taking the risk of learning a new technology. Coherence between my mentee and myself was critical in facing this challenge and we could both learn and grow from the disturbance.
Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Llopis, G. (2013, November 27). The 4 Most Effective Ways Leaders Solve Problems. Retrieved April 13, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2013/11/04/the-4-most-effective-ways-leaders-solve-problems/#3b14283e4f97
Sanford, H. (2013, October 11). Collaboration, Change and Innovation in Teaching and Learning. Retrieved April 13, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/collaboration-change-innovation-in-teaching-harriet-sanford
Tormala, A. (2016, October 24). Discomfort, Growth, and Innovation. Retrieved April 13, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/discomfort-growth-and-innovation-alyssa-tormala
I just finished and submitted my 2nd graduate level research paper ever. I don’t know if I am getting better at them, but I have felt so accomplished after both that I have completed so far. It is so satisfying to look back and see how much work over time has been put in and seeing how the results pan out.
This week our focus topic was about knowledge creation and sharing. I have a few close friends that are within the school district and I find each week talking more and more about the EQ with them. It always starts with how I reflect on the way things are done at a building level by my principal and then throughout the week I really see how I can also be making an impact.
This week, I learned from Josie, Jim, and Natalie. Jim shared about having time to collaborate with other teachers and the different kind of knowledge we can share. I really agreed with how Jim pointed out how hard it is to share tacit knowledge. I encounter this many times with paraprofessionals and teaching them to work with students that have very difficult behaviors. Josie reflected on what a healthy organization looks like. It was helpful to see this list and think about the ways that I can contribute to making the school a healthy organization. Natalie talked about strategies to focus on when collaborating with other teachers. It made me reflect on how I can get so overwhelmed when I hear all the things other teachers are doing, but I feel so much better when I can observe and see them do the practices in action.
My blog influenced the learning of Natalie this week. She shared that it was powerful to hear that outside consultants can be helpful to staff. Her experience was not so. The reason my experience was so worthwhile is that I had a leader that respected and encouraged us really to listen and experiment with what the outside consultant said. She had delivered results in the past and the leader encouraged us to take what she said to heart.
A healthy educational organization is one that has all parties trying to implement the best practices to benefit the students. Knowing what those best practices are depends greatly on the amount of knowledge sharing done between professionals, schools, and districts. Fullan (2001) notes that, “schools are in the business of teaching and learning, yet they are terrible at learning from each other” (p. 92). To make the educational experience as successful as possible for each child, educators need to be learning from each other as much as possible.
Luckily, we have many modes available to us to communicate and share knowledge with our colleagues, we just need to know what they are and advocate for them. Fullan notes that in an example, one district used outside consultants to observe or teach a demonstration. The consultant works with a small group to coach them and answer any questions. I have seen this model at the school I am at and it has greatly influenced my learning as a teacher. The one most beneficial to me was a behavior specialist that came and gave tips and showed us some ideas for working with students with difficult behaviors. We have also had an ongoing math specialist help with our general education curriculum. Ketvirtis (2011) notes that a leader should, “serve as models by openly sharing information, trusting others, stepping into another’s shoes and providing constructive feedback.” I think this includes knowing what your staff needs and bringing in the right people to help.
Access to professionals who can consult groups within a school is one way leaders can provide teachers with new knowledge. Another way, that is new to me, is through edcamps. Edcamps are free, without vendors, hosted by an organization or dividual, and contains sessions created the day of that meet the needs of those who attend (Swanson, 2013). The real target of edcamps is to get a group of people together so that they can share knowledge and find commonalities. Since anyone can be a presenter, they are a great way for knowledge to get distributed from many different sources and people (Alrubail, 2016).
Educational systems thrive when knowledge is created and shared. Although schools are in the business of education, they should not be competitive in the businesses are. The most effective strategies and new knowledge should be shared to create widespread environments for all students to learn. New knowledge should be distributed in a way that it is retained, reflected on, and redistributed to others (Dillon, 2015).
Alrubail, R. (2016). How Teachers Can Take Charge of Their PD. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from https://learnerlog.org/acrossthecurriculum/how-teachers-can-take-charge-of-their-pd/
Dillon, B. (2015). 21st-Century PD: Retention, Reflection, and Redistribution of Knowledge. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/21st-century-pd-retention-reflection-redistribution-bob-dillon
Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Ketvirtis, S. (2011). Knowledge Sharing: Leveraging Trust and Leadership to Increase Team Performance. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from https://www.sesp.northwestern.edu/masters-learning-and-organizational-change/knowledge-lens/stories/2012/knowledge-sharing-leveraging-trust-and-leadership-to-increase-team-performance.html
Swanson, K. (2013). Why Edcamp? Retrieved April 6, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-edcamp-kristen-swanson
This week focused on the relational aspects of businesses and schools. It made me think about the staff at our school and how diverse each person is. We are currently going through a hiring process for a new position and it makes me wonder what our school leaders take into consideration when hiring. I have never been on the hiring committee, so I am not aware of the questions or criteria.
I reflected this week on getting the right people on your team and getting the wrong ones off, whether this is a statement we should follow or throw out. I also reflected on emotional intelligence plays into a team dynamic and leadership.
My thoughts this week made an impact on Jule, Sara L., Josie, and Larissa. Jule and I work together and she agreed with my thoughts and noted how tricky it can be to work in a small town. Sara was curious about the EI quiz I took and noted that we should teach our kids how to work with a wide array of people as well. Josie connected with my role as a special education teacher because she has daughters on IEP’s, she saw how a team worked together for her girls to help them learn. Larissa made the connection between people who have lost their moral purpose and the high rates of teacher burnout, that we should continue to inspire those on our team.
I learned from Larissa this week and how we should do everything we can to make a team successful. This includes having a diverse group of people. Jule shared examples of how leaders need to meet the needs of many people and some people view leadership differently than others. Josie shared that she struggled with the EQ this week and about whether to get the wrong people off or not. She noted that we should have a relationship with others to continue to motivate them.
Overall, this week has made me realize how important connections and relationships with my team are. I want to work on my EI and how I can make others feel heard.
As a special education teacher, there are many variations of the teams that I work on in the school. Each student has a primary team which we call the IEP team, this includes the parents, teachers, administrators, and specialists. On a day to day basis, the other teams that come into play are other special education teachers, reading specialists, grade level teams, and paraprofessionals. The goal and moral purpose of each team is to do what is best for the child and meet his or her needs.
When addressing the statement “Get the right people on your team, and get the wrong ones off,” there are many factors to consider. Some people in a team are essentials and must be on the team no matter what, for example, parents. For these team members, it is nonnegotiable to make the relationships as positive as possible. When thinking about other team members and getting the right people on your team and the wrong ones off, we need to know who the right ones are. The right people aren’t necessarily the ones that all agree on the same ideas. Fullan (2001) states, “By supporting the like-minded, leaders trade off early smoothness for later greif. If you include and value naysayers, noise in the early stages will yield later, greater implementation” (p. 75). In a sense, getting the right people on your team is getting a diversity of people and ideas. However, I don’t necessarily think that to get the right people on a team, the wrong ones must be pushed off.
If we think of the “wrong” people as ones that disagree with us, they are actually bringing diversity. If we think of them as the people that agree with us too much, they also don’t deserve to be removed from the team. The “wrong” people may be those who don’t have a common moral purpose and create damage to the team, they may need to get removed. It is important to remember that, “the absence of conflict can be a sign of decay” (Fullan, 2001, p. 74), so we need to know how to work with a wide array of people. Grant (2016) says that diverse teams tend to focus more on facts, process the facts more carefully, and are more innovative. His reasoning for all of these is that a diverse team allows you to “dodge the costly pitfalls of conformity.” He does caution that the team must be organized to have inclusive practices so that every person feels heard.
As a 23 year old, I was a new graduate that was put into a role of managing people who were twice my age. This was a very intimidating task! I have learned quite a bit, but still have so many areas to grow in. The more I read about emotional intelligence (EI), the more I realize how instrumental it is for a leader to have. I took a quiz on mindtools.com to find my strengths and weaknesses of my EI and it seemed to come back pretty accurate. It gave me ⅘ stars on self-regulation as my strongest category and ⅖ stars on social skills, definitely an area that I need to work on! The times I have felt the most flustered in a leadership position are when someone reacts angrily to a decision that I made that was not intended to make them feel that way. Knowing how to deal with conflict is an area that I struggle with and need to strengthen to become a better leader. Alguilar (2015) lists many indicators of weak and strong EI in a group and she says that, “Emotionally intelligent teams have ways of managing the moods that one member is experiencing as well as their moods as a team.”
Knowing that EI can play a huge role in the culture of change in a team can help us focus on relationships and clear communication and expectations. I know I need to work on my social skills in the areas of conflict and difficult situations. Luckily, EI can be learned, developed, and practiced. Conflict helps a team come up with new, innovating ideas and allowing everyone to be and feel heard requires relationships with each member of the team.
Aguilar, E. (2015, June 29). The Key to Effective Teams in Schools: Emotional Intelligence. Retrieved March 29, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/key-effective-teams-schools-emotional-intelligence-elena-aguilar
Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Grant, D. R. (2016, November 04). Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter. Retrieved March 29, 2017, from https://hbr.org/2016/11/why-diverse-teams-are-smarter
Manktelow, J., Eyre, E., Jackson, K., Cook, L., Edwards, S., Bishop, L., . . . Moss, I. (n.d.). Building Great Work Relationships: Making Work Enjoyable and Productive. Retrieved March 29, 2017, from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/good-relationships.htm
This week we discussed the difference between teaching children and mentoring adults. This is a very relevant topic considering we are currently mentoring an adult and most are teaching children. It made me very reflective of the learning that I have experienced as an adult. Most have been in scenarios where there is a lecture hall, a powerpoint, a professor, and a notebook in front of me. I can’t say that these are the most pleasant experiences nor the ones where I learn the most. Reading the text opened my eyes to how important mentorship is to learning as an adult.
My thoughts this week contributed to the learning of Sarah and Natalie. Natalie agreed that adults should be offered many modes to accessing information, just like we do with children. Sarah also could connect with my thoughts and would like to see a change in the ways professional development is offered to teachers.
I read and commented on Sarah’s blog this week. She talked about the difference between teaching and mentoring. I really connected with Sarah when she said that she does not have more knowledge than her mentee, but a different perspective. I added to her idea and noted that a mentorship relationship works when both parties are motivated and learning.
Matthew shared about adult learning and how the characteristics are different and more complicated than children. He talked about how his mentee is a man who is one year away from retirement. I offered encouragement for Matthew and helped him keep his focus on mentoring to help a colleague engage and experiment with a 21st century classroom.
Overall, this week showed me the complexities of adult learning. Often adults are required to use their skills of sitting and listening to learn. This, however, is not the best way for adults to learn. A mentorship relationship allows for adults not only to have someone to motivate them and guide the way, but it allows for constant reflection.
When it comes to teaching children, there seems to be so much effort put into making lessons engaging, creative, and motivating for students. This effort tends to fall short with adult learners. In many scenarios where adults are required to learn, the setting includes a room full of adults with a notebook and a speaker with a powerpoint presentation at the front of the room. This is in no way how we would teach young children how to learn because it is not motivating in any sense. Do adult learners not deserve to be motivated?
One reason that this technique of teaching to adults may be used is that it is an easy way to get a plethora of information to a large group. Another reason may be that adult learners will learn the best in a mentoring environment (Papa, 2011, p. 103). Mentoring scenarios allow for collaboration and communication between adults. Adult learners become more productive when they are seen as colleagues by their leaders and both can learn together (Pullagurla, 2014). A mentorship can also target the way that each adult learns the best, this may be written or verbal, visually, kinesthetic, or auditory (Papa, 2011, p. 103). Mentorship relationships with adults are different than teaching children because adults have wide array of background knowledge. Each person can bring different insights and backgrounds to the conversation (Gaetano, 2016).
When mentoring adults, the primary way to make sure learning and deep understanding occurs is to ensure that the adult is motivated. Adult learners are often motivated by how the information relates to previous experiences and the need to know new information. Papa (2011) states, “Contextual understanding by the education leader is as critical as the transfer of knowledge and how it is transferred through strategies and activities” (p.98). If we are to mentor other adults, we need to make sure that the information that we are trying to convey has context and is transferred in a way that is motivating to our mentee.
A mentorship is not always available for all the information that leaders need to deliver to their staff, but there are a few points to keep in mind when thinking about the adult learner. Elena Aguilar (2011) says there are five components to keep in mind: adults need to be motivated and the experience should feel positive, they want to be in control of their learning, they need realistic and important objectives, need concrete experiences to apply what they learned, and adults have self-direction and past experiences. Mentoring adults and teaching children both require time and effort to make a lasting impact on learning.
Aguilar, E. (2011, August 22). The Science Behind Adult Learning. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/adult-learning-pd-elena-aguilar
Gaetano, K. (2016, January 13). 5 Ways Adults Learn Differently than Children. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from http://learnkit.com/2016/01/13/adult-learning-needs/
Papa, R. (2011). Technology leadership for school improvement. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Pullagurla, A. (2014, August 16). 6 Top Facts About Adult Learning Theory. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from https://elearningindustry.com/6-top-facts-about-adult-learning-theory-every-educator-should-know