In the book, Fullan spoke a great truth when he pointed out that schools have too many innovations that are disconnected projects. This spreads the teachers too thin and/or becomes a distractor to the moral purpose. The people making decision need to focus on the moral purpose and keep track of the tasks and projects given to the teachers in the district. In the last two schools I was at, the administration seemed to pile on the new innovations and when the teachers would ask what can be taken off the list of new innovations the administration had to think through what their moral purpose was and prioritize what their expectations were. The administration at both school had a new principal that ran with everything the superintendent said and realized that they need to look at the whole picture. The principals seem to become more thoughtful in their direction and help the teachers put down old innovations and pick up the innovations that were currently supporting the moral purpose. It does seem school districts are on a swinging pendulum and need to narrow their focus down a bit. This seems to be nationwide and education needs to slow the pendulum swing. They need to be more selective in the changes, disruptions, and allow teachers to bring the students closer to the real world experiences.
Controlled disruption happens in my classroom with every new chapter we start. For some reason the students highly resist new concepts for fear of failure. They don’t realize that this is a process that requires change on their part. The change that is required with learning affects the students and I have to maintain the reaction and keep the controls during the presentation. Some students loudly protest learning in fear of failing and act out loudly; some students sit quietly and wait for the bell to ring. Others listen intently wanting to understand what is expected of them. With all the different responses, I have to maintain control and continue to teach. At some point, when the majority of the students go for the same distraction, I wait patiently for the excitement to subside and acknowledge the distraction. This acts as a “strange attractor” and gains respect from the students and they once again give the concept(s) another attempt. Most of the class usually realizes that they are starting to understand and be successful which challenges the others to settle in and try to conquer the task. This disruption challenges the students to rise to another level in learning and in the battle they create bonds with one another. So, like Fullan pointed out we feel like we are loosing control but in actuality, the students are realizing that the problem isn’t going away and they come up with a solution to solve it.
As for my mentee, I presented my idea to help with her need; she went home for the weekend and came back with a slight different version of what I had offered. She was very timid and afraid to tell me about the change she made. I listened to her change and I could see that it was similar to our goal, but a program that was a smaller stepping-stone for her students. I agreed with the change and acknowledge the thought process. My mentee was relieved she was not rejected by the changes she had made. I assured her that I was there to help her and not control her. I believe this response I had to her changes allowed our relationship to take a stronger bond, since I allowed her to be innovative with what I offered her. As Fullan states, “Change your approach to strategy and you change the way company runs. The leader becomes a context setter, the designer of a leaning experience-not an authority figure with solutions. Once the folks at the grassroots realize they own the problem, they also discover that they can help create and own the answer-and they get after it very quickly, very aggressively, and very creatively, with a lot more ideas than the ole-style strategic direction could ever have prescribed from headquarters.” I could have demanded my way and lose my mentee altogether. I needed to stay open the talent that she brings to a solution to a problem. By doing so kept her talent alive and between us we can develop something that is more successful.
Coherence, according to Henry of Lead Change Group, there are three different meanings. Leaders must be understandable or you won’t create result; they must be consistent or they will be difficult to understand or follow; they must be pure, not complex or they will cause confusion. This can be boiled down to KISS, keep it simple stupid. As a teacher we have to remember to not overload our audience, whether it is our students or our peers. We need to be careful how many concepts or how much of a concept we will teach. We need to be coherent. When we are not clear to our students/peers we create a stressful situation for them. Dr. Watkin, in his Ted Talk, teaches that while we are under stress we lobotomize ourselves. In order for us to be brilliant we need to control our heart rate, which controls our emotions, that controls our thinking and in turn controls our behavior. So, if we want to be brilliant it isn’t enough to just practice or say the right things to ourselves we need to control our physiology that controls us. As a teacher we must not raise this stress level to high or we will lose our students.
A successful teacher will be aware of the state of mind and emotion of their students. The teacher’s goal should not override the reactions of the students. In The Change Leader article, Fullen states, “Leaders with deep moral purpose provide guidance, but they can also have blinders if their ideas are not challenged through the dynamics of change, the give-and-take of relationships, and the ideas generated by new knowledge.” Teachers need to listen to the students and hear their suggestion, emotions or thoughts. We must be careful to not wear blinders and allow the give-and-take of relationships that is generated by the new knowledge.
Leaders, whether teacher or administration, need to be sensitive to the changes they are implementing on other people. We should consider they reactions, listen to their responses and open to their ideas. This would help the relationships and draw out the best in people.
Fullan, M. (2014). Leading in a Culture of Change. Somerset, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com
Fullan, M. (2002) The Change Leader. Educational Leadership. ASCD. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may02/vol59/num08/The-Change-Leader.aspx
Henry, M. Coherent Leadership. Lead Change Group, a division of Weaving Influence. Retrieved from http://leadchangegroup.com/coherent-leadership/
Watkin, A. Being Brilliant Every Single Day. Ted Talks. Retrieved from http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=coherence+making+in+leadership&FORM=VIRE5#view=detail&mid=E28D9D46BA6BFA145DD0E28D9D46BA6BFA145DD0