The Influencer Strategy-Desired Results, Vital Behaviors & The Six Sources of Influence

The benefits of the student ePortfolio have been widely reviewed and according to Ross Miller and Wende Morgaine, “A well-executed e-portfolio program is an incredible tool for higher education” (Miller, Moraine 2009).  Presbyterian School understands the valuable role technology has in education, and we strive to stay current on advances and trends that will benefit our students in the classroom.  For the past 6 years, our learners have benefited greatly and have gained valuable learning experiences in digital citizenship through our 1:1 iPad initiative, and  it’s now time to take things a step further.

When it comes to bringing about change in an organization, I’ve learned that spewing out statistics and information is simply not enough.  I’ve learned that in addition to influencing the mind, we’ve got to also influence the heart.  And even then, once we have fully had an influence on people of an organization, there are still a multitude of steps and strategies that come into play in order to get change initiatives off the floor.  I’ve gotten a lot of valuable information from the book, Influencer, in terms of what the next steps are for me in this ePortfolio program.  Desired results and how they will be measured need to be made clear, those involved in the change effort need to be identified, and important vital behaviors must take place in order for the desired results to be achieved.  All of this information must be clearly outlined so that effective change can begin to take place.

Beginning in the Fall of 2016, I will begin piloting a student ePortfolio program at Presbyterian School for all learners enrolled in Digital Photography.  What I’d like to see happen with this pilot program is to eventually have all middle school students create their own ePortfolio to use throughout their years as PS, so that once they are ready to apply to High School and colleges/universities, they have a strong educational resumé to provide these higher education institutions.  In order for our students to get to that point, there needs to be considerable change among ourselves, the teachers, first.  With this in mind, my desired result is to have all middle school Presbyterian teachers designing and planning appropriate lessons that will allow student work to be uploaded onto an ePortfolio platform by May 2018.

Results will be measured by tracking how often teachers are having students upload new work and personal reflections onto their ePortfolios.  There should be no fewer then 2 projects per semester per subject.  At the end of each quarter, students will be asked to  complete a course evaluation to obtain feedback on the ePortfolio implementation process so that teachers can continually  and effectively improve our digital lessons and projects. In addition, successes and exemplars will be shared in all-faculty and/or division meetings to serve as recognition and inspiration on the usages of the ePortfolio in the classroom.

There are many people that will be involved in helping make this implementation possible.  This, by all means, isn’t a little project, and in order for us to be able to do this successfully, it involves the help of our Academic Dean, Janet Fox,  Head of Middle School, Charles Gramatges, Director of Communications, Andrea Lawless, The Covenant Team, and every single one of our middle school teachers.

Taking into account all of this information, the following 4 key strategies have helped me identify the vital behaviors I wish to change in order to achieve the desired results.

Notice the Obvious

Presbyterian School has been a 1:1 iPad school for students in 4-8th grades for the past 6 years.  In addition, all middle school classrooms are equipped with Apple TVs for projection and sharing purposes.  The addition of the iPads have eliminated unnecessary paperwork and worksheets, and with the help of eBackpack, time spent on grading and assessment by teachers has reduced substantially, however, there are other facets in which the iPads and Apple TVs can be used.  With the ePortfolio program beginning in August of 2016, teachers will need to be educated on the purposes of the ePortfolio and what it entails.  We have the necessary tool (iPads) to create and build the site, we just need to be sure that they are continuously being used to upload new content regularly to further our initiative.

Look for Crucial Moments

I can envision the students’ excitement at the opportunity to create a personalized ePortfolio website, however, I am also expecting that excitement to taper off after a few weeks.  For the same reasons that researchers wonder why people do not continue to use their ePortfolios after the class or school requires them to, I believe that it’s important to model the use of the ePortfolios from the instructor’s standpoint.  Students will “forget about it” and let laziness set in, if not actively encouraged to utilize the online portfolios.  In an effort to avoid this, I feel it is necessary to hold all teachers accountable for modeling the uses and advantages of the ePortfolio by integrating their own site as a go-to for examples, advice and reflections throughout the course.

Learn from Positive Deviants

It will be important for all teachers to regularly partner up with others in their department or grade level, and with technology teachers to carefully design and plan lessons that will be embedded in the ePortfolios.  We are lucky to have so many knowledgable individuals  in one place that can help us successfully move our initiative forwards.  Remember, to never hesitate to ask someone for their input in your idea.  In addition to our other PLC topics offered on designated Mondays, there will be a PLC devoted to ePortfolios that teachers can sign up for to get ideas or advice from others.

Spot Culture Busters

As this is a new initiative, and will likely take some time to get used to, I realize that I need eliminate the mindset that a project this big is something that can only be done on a computer or laptop.  Some teachers, and even students, may think that the iPad isn’t a tool they can use to maintain their ePortfolios, but in reality, we have access to such a versatile tool and we need to make sure they are being utilized to their full potential.  Teachers need to be held accountable for incorporating technology integration grading criteria for all learners during each quarter, so we don’t fall short of our desired result.

vitalbehaviors2

The Six Sources of Influence

six-sources-of-influence

 

Created using https://www.tackk.com/board.  Click here for a full interactive view of the above TACKK board.

 

References

BSJOBERG. (2015). Six Sources of Influence. [JPEG]. Retrieved July 29, 2016 from http://anagilemind.net/2015/03/04/review-of-influencer-the-power-to-change-anything/

Granny, J., Mayfield, D., McMillan, R., Patterson, K., & Switzler, A. (2007). Influencer. McGraw-Hill Education

Miller, R. & Morgaine, W. (2009). The Benefits of E-portfolios for Students and Faculty in Their Own Words. peer Review, 11(1), n.d.

 

Leading Organizational Change- Why, How and What

Months of research and planning have gone into the development of my innovation plan that I will begin piloting in August of the 2016-2017 school year.  The past 7 months of my graduate studies have been completely eye opening for me and have provided me with the resources and tools I need to take on such a challenge…. and I’m ready for it.

Just like a new product a company promotes and tries to get consumers to buy, I’m trying to “sell” my innovation plan.  No longer is it just an idea, but we are in the beginning stages of leading organizational change.  The Why, How and What statements are crucial to promoting the significance of my plan for innovation, because it’s one thing to get by department leaders on board, but now I’ve got to get the rest of my colleagues on board as well- and this might prove to be just as challenging, if not more than before.

 

In the video, John Kotter explains the importance of establishing a sense of urgency when embarking on any sort of major change in an organization.  This video along with The Heart of Change, also by Kotter  presents the notion that it isn’t enough to merely ask something of someone- this won’t yield the type of change that is desired.  So what will?

“You have to win over the hearts and the minds of people.”

In other words, what you’ve got to do is find a way to connect your mission, plan or purpose with your target people, whether that be consumers, managers, education leaders or colleagues.  Simon Sinek also provides great information of where to start when beginning a program that integrates likes and passions.  In his own words, “You start with WHY”.  So taking into account Kotter’s work along with Sinek’s, I’ve developed the following Why, How and What statements for my innovation plan.

 

TACKK

Created using https://www.tackk.com/board.  Click here for a full interactive view of the above TACKK board.

 

References

Leading Change: Establish a Sense of Urgency. (2013). Retrieved July 12, 2016, from https://youtu.be/2Yfrj2Y9IlI

Start With Why- How Great Leaders Inspire Action | Simon Sinek | TEDxPugetSound. (2009). Retrieved July 14, 2016, from https://youtu.be/u4ZoJKF_VuA

The Heart of Change. (2011).  Retrieved July 12, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NKti9MyAAw

 

 

Developing a Growth Mindset Plan

Carol Dweck, a researcher in the field of motivation has devoted years of research into seeing how/why people succeed and how they cope with failure.  I found Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success strikingly similar to another book I read years ago that our school administrators recommended that we read, called Nurture Shock by Ashley Merryman and Po Bronson.  Just as Dweck’s book, Nurture Shock is full of research and studies on parenting and child development, specifically how constant praise from parents “backfires and actually undermines their confidence” instead of building it (Sundberg, 2016). Over the years, Dweck took note that a person’s mindset greatly affects whether they are successful in reaching their goals or not and how one’s mindset continues to influence the outcome of their life.

In short, Dweck’s work outlines two different thought processes- one being that intelligence and ability are traits that you are either born with or without.  It’s either one or the other.  I was born with artistic ability, but singing is not one of my God given talents.  These are traits that are “carved in stone” and not worth practicing towards improvement, because I either have it or I don’t.  There is another line of thinking that says despite whatever talents a person is born with, those talents need to be continuously honed through practice.  So maybe I have a natural artistic talent, but in order for me to use that talent to its fullest potential, I need to continue to practice my technical skills, because just like any other hobby, sport or ability, if not put to use… it may get a little rusty.  Now, that’s not to say that I cannot improve my singing, if that is what I choose to focus on.  I may not have been born with natural singing ability, but if I put my mind to it, and invest in voice lessons and practice for hours a week there could be great improvement in my singing.

Dweck has coined the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset” when referring to the two thought processes.  Those with the fixed mindset believe that a person is either born with intelligence or ability or not, and there’s no improving the hand you are dealt.  In addition, those with the fixed mindset constantly need validation that they are smart, or worthy.  The below graphic sums it up well.  Which mindset do you prefer to model?

Nigel-Holmes-Mindset-diagram

 

I can relate a lot to the idea of having a growth mindset from an athletic point of view.  I come from a competitive soccer family and played soccer and volleyball throughout my schooling.  Growing up, I embraced the challenges that the coaches and the sport presented me.  My injuries were setbacks, for sure, but they didn’t stop me.  I could have quit countless of times, but frankly, that’s not how I was raised.  Now that we are parents to two children, we have tried to make it a point to give the kids the opportunity to play whatever they’d like, and to give them the time to find something that they really love to do…. and to always encourage and praise their effort.

A point that Dweck continuously makes in her book, is that a person CAN change their mindset.  On her website, she has laid out 4 steps for us to take to steer away from a fixed mindset and instead, develop the thinking processes of that of a growth mindset.

slide_29As an Early Childhood teacher, part of my job is instilling a growth mindset into our little ones.  We are learning so many gross motor, fine motor and academic things that I feel like many of my most used phrases are “It’s ok, let’s try it again” or “Keep trying, you can do it!”.  I once had a student tell me that their older sibling had just recently learned how to tie their shoes and why didn’t they know how to tie their shoes?  I explained to them that they soon would learn how to tie their shoes just like their big brother, and that it might take some time.  They may not know how to tie their shoes yet, but they will learn soon with some time and practice.

In my opinion, it isn’t hard instilling a growth mindset in 3-4 year olds, because they are so curious and open to learning already.  In fact, we aren’t instilling a growth mindset in them… we are maintaining it.  They don’t view asking questions as a weakness, but a way of finding things out.  It’s the only way they know how to learn.  The challenge for me comes in my middle school photography class.  For some reason, the older we get, our desire for learning slightly diminishes.  Why is that?  I think many things can contribute to this for many students, whether it be family finances, self consciousness, peer pressure, grades, etc, but it is important for us to continue to model and encourage a growth mindset in our students so that they can push themselves to be the best version of themselves as possible.

As I look back at my learning philosophy I posted a few weeks ago, I realize that I am already embracing the growth mindset.  I know my purpose is to lead by example, to exhibit respect, to spark curiosity, to foster imagination, to encourage play, to promote risk taking, and to be a constant reminder that if we fall down, we get back up.  If we don’t do something right the first time, we try again.  

As an fine art teacher, I get many students that walk through my door who have never picked up a camera in their life… and I’m talking about a real camera, not an iPhone!  But that’s ok, my job is to work with them and to let it be known that everyone has a voice and that voice can be heard through art and through photographs.  There are no right and wrong answers in my classroom.  They may not be photographers yet, but by the end of the course, they will have experienced and learned through practice alongside myself and their peers.  At the beginning of the course, I always like to expose my students to photographers before and during our time that have made an impact on the art world.  Many of these artists have had countless struggles and setbacks throughout their life and I can promise you that none of them were just handed a God given photographic talent.  They worked to get where they were/are.  I love the graphic I posted above that breaks down the fixed and growth mindset and I plan to have it displayed in my classroom.  It is a visual to show them that you have a choice in reaching your goals.  It may not be easy, but you have a choice.

I have set goals for myself as both an Early Childhood teacher and a middle school Fine Art teacher, including my plan to implement student ePortfolios in middle school and my Beta Storytelling project.  With both of these endeavors, I realize that I may not get it right the first time, but I welcome the challenge.  My goal isn’t to just come up with ideas and receive a “check mark”, instead, I want my organization to climb up the ladder in educating our students with the purposeful use of technology.  The only way to do that is to model my own learning philosophy and to take “growth mindset action”.

Resources

Dweck, C. (2008). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine Books.

Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset. Retrieved June 29, 2016, from http://mindsetonline.com/changeyourmindset/firststeps/index.html

Sundberg, K. (2016). The Welby Way Beeline.  Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://welbyway.org/newletters/March16Beeline.pdf