February 20, 2017
Change is a hard process to achieve, no matter the situation of change trying to be accomplished. Over the past eight or so months that I have been in graduate school, I have been developing a plan to implement a blended learning environment on my campus. Over the past five weeks, I have been taking a graduate course titled, Leading Organizational Change which allowed me to look at aspects of myself as a leader, as well as my surroundings and situations to promote successful change in my organization. Being able to successfully implement change is important in any organization so developing the skills to implement change is vital.
I am using this course and the techniques that were presented to develop a change plan to implement blended learning on my campus. A few aspects that I looked at to help successfully implement change include:
- Why I am deciding to make the change
- How to influence others to believe in the change
- Executing a successful change plan
- Crucial conversations
Although each of the factors stated above reach different aspects of influencing change, they can all work together to help ensure success in the change.
Why: What’s the Purpose?
When deciding to make changes, one must first look at why the change needs to be made. In Simon Sinek’s 2009 TED talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Sinek indicates that people who succeed are driven by a cause, a purpose, or a belief. When developing my plan to implement blended learning, instead of starting with facts and statistics, I need to appeal to others hearts rather than their heads. Using Sinek’s ideas of Why, How, and What, I have developed Why, How, and What statements to appeal to the heart of the teachers at my school. I believe that appealing to their hearts will allow a better chance of teachers accepting the blended learning implementation.
Why– Blended learning will foster a sense of self-direction and discipline to ensure future success of learners as a result of self-motivation.
How– Students will be exposed to a significant learning environment where they will learn in a collaborative, learner-focused, and flexible setting.
What– Blended learning allows for the personalization of curriculum and students are able to work cooperatively with others.
Click here for the extended version of my why statement.
In addition to defining a clear understanding of why I want to implement blended learning, I must be able to influence others to believe in this change.
To be able to successfully implement change, one must be able to influence others to believe in the change. According to Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change (2013), there are three keys to influence change; The three keys include, focus and measure, finding vital behaviors, and engaging all six sources of influence. Using the three keys to influence change will hopefully inspire and encourage others to understand the importance of implementing blended learning on our campus. Click here to see my full plan for influencing change on my campus. After I developed a plan to implement a blended learning environment, I needed to develop a way to execute my plan.
Developing change is more than creating a plan for change, we must also think of how we the plan is going to be executed. Using the book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals, I have developed an extensive plan on how I plan to execute my plan for a blended learning environment on my campus. The execution of a plan involves, creating a wildly important goal, developing measurements to keep track of the progress of the goal, developing a scoreboard, and creating an accountability team. These steps are just a few that I looked at when carrying out my plan for execution. Please click here to see my detailed explanation of how I plan to execute my plan to implement a blended learning environment on my campus.
Finally, an extremely important part of implementing a change plan involves being able to hold crucial conversations to ensure that you and your team members are on the same page to ensure the success of the plan.
Have you ever read a book that you wish you had read years ago? For me, that book is Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler, 2012. As someone who grew up hiding behind anyone to avoid conversations, to say that I am shy would be an understatement. I have never liked to share my opinion or talk in front of a large group, I have always had a fear of failure or people not understanding the point I am trying to get across or being defensive that I am offending them. This book has changed the way that I look at having conversations; I am not having them to prove someone wrong or to put them down, rather, I should be having conversations to help improve my understanding of others and to improve their understandings of what I’m looking to accomplish.
Using and implementing crucial conversations is an aspect of being a self-differentiated leader and will help you in developing and leading the strategies and plans I need to implement blended learning on my campus. Conversations are crucial, and just like anything crucial, conversations are not always easy. Crucial Conversations (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler, 2012) outlines key factors you will need to address to have crucial conversations. Below I have outlined how I plan to use the key factors to implement crucial conversations.
- Get unstuck- Determine what you want to accomplish and make a plan to achieve your goals. My plan is, all core teachers will implement two blended learning assignments a week by June 26, 2017.
- Start with the heart- I believe I hit this aspect of crucial conversations in determining why I wanted to implement blended learning. Allowing other teachers to understand the importance of blended learning in the future of a learner’s education should be important to all teachers, because isn’t that why most teachers become teachers anyway; To ensure learners lead successful lives?
- Learn to look- ‘Learn to look’ inspires the reader to look at past failed conversations to help with the success of future conversations. As I stated earlier, I am often quick to keep my opinion to myself, so when I ‘learn to look’, I am mostly looking at potential opportunities that were passed up because I chose not to take a leap of faith and have a crucial conversation. Learning to look also deals with determining an appropriate time to have a conversation, for example, it would not be a good idea to ask your boss for a day off when half of the staff is already not at work or asking your co-worker for a favor when they are clearly in a bad mood. With my blended learning plan, I have decided not to keep silent and express to my administration the importance of implementing blended learning.
- Make it safe- When having a crucial conversation, it is extremely important to ensure everyone involved feels comfortable by: apologizing when appropriate, contrast to fix misunderstandings, and create a mutual purpose. When discussing my implementation plan, I will be well prepared and find a way to come to an agreement, rather than arguing until I get my way.
- Master my stories- Mastering one’s own stories involves being prepared and in control of one’s own behaviors and emotions. When people are ill prepared, they tend to get emotional; In crucial conversations, it is extremely important to be in control of your emotions to provide the proper responses and feedback. To master my stories when introducing blended learning, I will be prepared with success stories and responses to how I think people could negatively respond to my plan.
- STATE my path- STATE stands for ‘Share your facts, tell your story, ask for others’ paths, talk tentatively, and encourage testing (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler, p. 135). When stating my path, I plan to share facts of successful blended learning environment. As someone who is currently using and benefitting from blended learning, I will be able to tell my story of how blended learning has affected my life and the lives of my students. Prior to presenting my case, I will find others who are willing to share how blended learning has impacted them and their students. To talk tentatively, I will share information as my stories and my opinions rather than hard facts. Finally, I will encourage testing; I will encourage others to share their opinions that may differ from mine.
- Explore others paths- In order to explore others’ paths, I will encourage others to express themselves and their opinion. When listening to others, it is important to be a good listener to reassure others that you care about what they have to say.
- Move to action- The past five weeks of my Leading Environmental Change course had helped me to create a plan to help move my plan to action. Each week I have looked at different aspects that could potentially contribute to the success of my plan. If I don’t move to action, I am simply sitting and wishing for something to happen, but without being my own motivator to encourage change, there is a great change that nothing is going to happen.
I have already noticed a positive change in the conversations I am having with others. The previous counselor at our school always tried to create a new schedule for students returning from the alternative school while our new counselor sticks the kids back in the classes they were in before (with occasional slight adjustments). This always made me upset because I wanted these kids to have a fresh start and I don’t feel like giving them their old schedule was doing that for them. This week, when one of my students returned from the alternative school, it was the same situation, this student was back in the same class. After giving myself some time to be frustrated, I calmed down, typed up an appropriate e-mail and asked if the student could be put in another class. After a little bit of negotiation, the counselor and I were able to switch two of her classes to put her in a different period. Before reading Crucial Conversations, I probably would have complained about the situation to every person but the counselor which would not have resulted in an effective outcome. While this is just a small example of how my conversations have changed, baby steps are steps too! I hope to be able to improve and progress in my conversation skills to be able to lead crucial conversations with others.
Each of the strategies, starting with why, influencing and executing change, and crucial conversations are all vital in implementing a successful plan for change; Each component might be different and could possibly work on it’s own, the more success strategies applied, the more likely a plan will succeed. I am hoping these strategies will prove helpful when carrying out my plan for implementing a blended learning environment.
*This quote is an exaggeration and has not been stated by ‘everyone, ever’.
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.
Kotter, J. [Dr. John Kotter]. (2011 Mar 23). The Heart of Change. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NKti9MyAAw&feature=youtu.be
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.
Sinek, S. (2009, September). How great leaders inspire action. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action