Philosophy of Adaptation

My personal “Vision” statement is to teach students in engaging ways, including technology, while having high expectations by using scaffolding, modeling, problem solving, honesty, discussion, and differentiation.

My vision statement is directly linked to my moral purpose. When I think about my “moral purpose,” I think about why I became a teacher. I feel that I am like many teachers who join the profession; I want to make a difference for the future (Ryan, 2008). I also believe that “leading with moral purpose means having a commitment to making a difference in the lives and outcomes of students as a result of their experiences at school” (Bezzina, n.d.). I have high expectations for my students and sometimes they get frustrated when I ask them do add more details to their drawings or explain how they came up with a math solution. Many of my students have already learned to ask for help without trying and they don’t like when I don’t offer suggestions or solutions. Instead, I remind them that we are all problem solvers and this is a problem that I know they can solve. I then assist them in thinking of ways to solve their problem. Sometimes, it involves talking to their classmates for ideas, other times it may be for them to try using a math manipulative of their choice (fingers, counters, number line).

My school’s mission statement states, “Arctic Light Elementary School is part of a diverse military community and serves the children of America’s Arctic Warriors. The mission of Arctic Light Elementary School is to facilitate the growth of students into knowledgeable, self-sufficient, caring citizens, capable of navigating in a global society. Through discovery and exploration, students participate in developmentally appropriate experiences in a safe environment of respect for others and uncompromising commitment to excellence and challenge” (Arctic Light Elementary School, n.d.).

In the mission statement, it clearly shows that Arctic Light supports a 21st century learning approach through their desire to teach students who can navigate “a global society” by “learning through discovery and exploration”. It also states that they want students to be self-sufficient and capable, which directly links to how I teach my students to problem solve. One of the most engaging things that I have done this year was introduce my first grade students to Chibitronics. Chibitronics are small circuit stickers that have a LED light (Hoopes, 2014). My students were challenged with Chibitronics, and in the process they had fun with technology and discovery, problem solved, learned resiliency, and persevered.

The five components of leadership are moral purpose, understanding change, relationship building, knowledge creation and sharing, and coherence making (Fullan, 2001). These components are necessary for success in leading through change because each component supports the others. I believe that moral purpose is important in order to have positive workplace. Fortunately, the school that I currently work at has been a very positive experience for me. I think a positive school climate is extremely important because it impacts so many people. It’s not just teachers that are affected by the positivity or negativity. It affects students, support staff, parents, and administrators. In an article about the importance of creating a positive school culture, Habegger (2008) writes, “A positive school culture is the underlying reason why the other components of successful schools were able to flourish.” This makes me think of something one of my teachers used to say to our class, “A positive attitude can make what seems impossible possible.”

It is hard for people to embrace or even be willing try change that they don’t understand. In my experience, the most important component in leadership is relationship building. When people do not trust others, they will not be open to change. I feel that communication is an important component of relationship building. I read that “ineffective communication, including individuals’ inability or unwillingness to listen to what others have to say, is a sure way to confound problem solving, reduce trust, and magnify feelings of isolation among administrators, teachers, and support personnel” (Brewster & Railsback, 2003). Communication also ties into knowledge creation and sharing and coherence making.

Technology is always changing and that change is met with resistance by some and excitement by others. I have talked to teachers who flat out refuse to use any technology and the main reason I hear is that they don’t understand it and feel that they cannot learn how to use it. Change is scary and hard. Not everyone looks at technology as something thrilling and new. It can also be challenging for people who are enthusiastic about the change to always have to listen to and try to teach their unwilling colleagues. I think it helps to get the naysayers involved from the start. “For organization wide change to occur, the late majority and laggards (I prefer to call them reluctant adopters) must be actively involved in the change. We cannot leave it to the innovators and early adopters” (West, 2015). It is definitely a process and it will take time, but the time will have a huge payoff when change suggested by leaders is supported and successful.

The elements of all leadership styles are important to manage change because the negative characteristics of each element can be offset by the positive of other elements. Fullan (2001) wrote, “Leaders who have mastered four or more – especially the authoritative, democratic, affiliative, and coaching styles – have the best climate and business performance.” I feel that a great way to sum up what makes an ideal leader is best described by Benincasa (2012) when she wrote, “If you take two cups of authoritative leadership, one cup of democratic, coaching, and affiliative leadership, and a dash of pacesetting and coercive leadership “to taste,” and you lead based on need in a way that elevates and inspires your team, you’ve got an excellent recipe for long-term leadership success with every team in your life.”

I am fortunate that I get to play with my students every day. This year, I am only doing building and making centers because my classroom center time doubles as a makerspace. I will be including technology in the future, but for now my students have paper sculpting, Tinker Toys, K’nex, Dominos, Fiddle Stix, connecting shapes, Zoobs, and Legos. My students are learning to play nicely with each other and talk about feelings to solve conflicts. They are also learning to problem solve by themselves and with the help of others. The relationships they are building allows them to feel comfortable asking for and offering to help one another.

I love being able to play and make things with them. I have noticed that my students are in a much happier mood in the afternoon after building center time. It is important to “remember that play is important for all aspects of our lives, including creativity and relationships” (Tartakovsky, 2012). I definitely feel that play has helped me build relationships with some of my more difficult students. I feel that it is helping all of us maintain a positive social well-being. My students are connecting with each other through play and I am connecting with them (Yenigun, 2014). I also feel that play helps my students deal positively with changes and challenges. Play makes them more creative and as I said, it puts them in a better mood. When they are happy, I feel that they can deal with change better.

I have had a lot of turmoil being a new teacher last year and changing grades this year. I don’t have the curriculum I need to teach my students. I don’t have the supplies we need to do art. I can be frustrating and I get disheartened. However, I teach my students that we have to make changes sometimes. In my classroom, we roll with the flow and sometimes fly by the seat of our pants. I’ve had to explain the meaning of both those phrases to my students. I know that for a lot of people, change can be difficult. For us, everything is new, so we just go with it and try to “embrace” it.

References

Arctic Light Elementary School. (n.d.). Parent and Family Involvement. Retrieved July 28, 2015, from Arctic Light Elementary School: http://arc.k12northstar.org/about/title-i-information/parent-family-involvement

Benincasa, R. (2012, June). 6 Leadership Styles and When You Should Use Them. Retrieved October 29, 2015, from Fast Company:http://www.fastcompany.com/1838481/6-leadership-styles-and-when-you-should-use-them

Bezzina, M. (n.d.). Moral purpose and shared leadership. Retrieved October 22, 2015, from Educational Leaders:http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Culture/Attitudes-values-and-ethics/Moral-purpose-and-shared-leadership

Brewster, C., & Railsback, J. (2003, September). Building Trusting Relationships For School Improvement: Implications for Principals and Teachers. Retrieved October 15, 2015, from Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory:http://educationnorthwest.org/sites/default/files/trust.pdf

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Habegger, S. (2008, Sept/Oct). The Principal’s Role in Successful Schools: Creating a Positive School Culture. Retrieved October 14, 2015, from National Association of Elementary School Principals: https://www.naesp.org/resources/1/Principal/2008/S-O_p42.pdf

Hoopes, H. (2014, January 22). Chibitronics connects circuits with stickers for entertaining electronic education. Retrieved September 26, 2015, from Gizmag: http://www.gizmag.com/chibitronics-circuit-stickers/30558/

Ryan, W. (2008). Leadership with a Moral Purpose. Bethel: Crown House Publishing Company, LLC.

Tartakovsky, M. (2012, November 15). The Importance of Play for Adults. Retrieved September 24, 2015, from Psych Central:http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/11/15/the-importance-of-play-for-adults/

West, P. (2015, July 14). How do you get tech-resistant teachers to embrace change? Retrieved October 15, 2015, from eSchool News:http://www.eschoolnews.com/2015/07/14/embrace-change-792/2/

Yenigun, S. (2014, August 6). Play Doesn’t End With Childhood: Why Adults Need Recess Too. Retrieved September 26, 20q5, from National Public Radio:http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/06/336360521/play-doesnt-end-with-childhood-why-adults-need-recess-too

 

 

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Week Twelve Reflection (Ed Leadership)

This week, I cohosted the Twitter chat with Ali. The concepts of our chapter were difficult, but I really enjoyed our chat. Ali and I both teach in Fairbanks and she spent time in my classroom last year teaching my class about Puppet Pals. It was fun to cohost with someone I had met. We emailed our question ideas to each other and made changes as needed. We didn’t get through all our questions, but it’s better to have too many than too few.

On my blog this week, both Cynthia and Genevieve talked about “walk to read” models and their experience with them, since it is something that my school is supposed to be implementing (we are going a different route for now). I always feel like we are each others cheerleaders. I feel supported and I offer support to others. It doesn’t seem to matter how far away my classmates live from me; we are all dealing with changes and doing the best we can. No one better understands the challenges of a teacher than another teacher.

Sunshine has me interested in trying Storybird. I actually hit her up to see if she would be interested in distance mentoring me in using the program. Genevieve, Ali and I are all using Class Dojo. I find it to be very effective in class behavior. I connected with both of them about it on Genevieve’s blog. Sam’s blog gave me an idea of how to try to teach my student who has autism how to deal with unforeseen consequences. He is very bright and also highly reactive. I’m going to talk to all my students about unforeseen consequences. I think it will fit in nicely with teaching them resilience.

How understanding controlled disruption and coherence making impacts leadership

I think it is important to define controlled disruption and coherence in order to answer this question. Controlled disruption “displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile. It is at once destructive and creative” (Howard, 2013). Coherence making “is a neverending proposition that involves alignment, connecting the dots, being clear about how the big picture fits together” (Fullan, Cuttress, & Kilcher, 8 Forces for Leaders of Change, 2005). Understanding disruption and coherence making was key for me when trying to apply the concepts to the changes that are happening at my school.

It has been a tough start to our year at my school. We have a new principal, assistant principal, behavior specialist, attendance secretary, and administrative assistant. On top of that, because of the change in staff, none of our supplies were ordered in the spring. We had to use our budget for this school year to buy the supplies we need to teach. A couple weeks ago, we ran out of copier paper. Our cupboards are all empty and I’m buying my own tape, staplers, cardstock, and other supplies for my classroom. I have heard that teaching is the only profession where you steal from home to stock your classroom. In addition to that, we are also starting the new teacher observation model. We have also been informed that we have to do a “walk to read” and progress monitor all Tier III students weekly. We have not been trained how to do the interventions for our Tier III students and the district is not buying additional resources for schools. There has been a lot of heated discussion about how to implement “walk to read”. As Fullan (2001) wrote, “When change occurs, there will be disturbances, and this means that there will be differences of opinion that must be reconciled. Effective leadership means guiding people through the differences and, indeed, enabling differences to surface.” One of our team members flat out refused to do a “walk to read”. She was so adamant that we decided to do a push in, even though it may prove to be more difficult for new teachers because we are essentially teaching small groups of students at the above level, on level, below level, Tier II, and Tier III in our classroom at the same time with the help of two RTI tutors. As a new teacher, I find wrapping my head around what it will “look” like in my classroom extremely stressful.

I think this is where having a shared moral purpose is key for our school, especially for our principal as she leads us. “Leading with moral purpose means having a commitment to making a difference in the lives and outcomes of students as a result of their experiences at school” (Bezzina, n.d.). We are all there for our students and we are committed to giving them a quality education. This is what unites us and helps us get through the frustration we are having at some of the changes we have had to endure this year.

For me, personally, I find that I can better appreciate what my principal is going through this year because I understand controlled disruption and coherence making. I can also lead my mentee through the changes by educating her on the concepts. Making sure we both focus on our shared moral purpose can make the process easier.

References

Bezzina, M. (n.d.). Moral purpose and shared leadership. Retrieved October 22, 2015, from Educational Leaders: http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Culture/Attitudes-values-and-ethics/Moral-purpose-and-shared-leadership

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Fullan, M., Cuttress, C., & Kilcher, A. (2005). 8 Forces for Leaders of Change. Retrieved November 20, 2015, from National Staff Development Council: http://www.michaelfullan.ca/media/13396067650.pdf

Howard, C. (2013, March 27). Disruption Vs. Innovation: What’s The Difference? Retrieved November 19, 2015, from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinehoward/2013/03/27/you-say-innovator-i-say-disruptor-whats-the-difference/

Week Eleven Reflection (Ed Leadership)

I don’t really have a lot to reflect on because I did not get my blog posted last weekend on time. I had a health issue and spent much of Friday night in the emergency room. The rest of the weekend, I was exhausted and felt “off”. It was a real struggle to pull it together. I have more doctor appointments coming up in the next two weeks. Hopefully, I will get some answers. Mostly, I’m trying to be positive and find my way to getting back on track.

What is the role of knowledge creation and sharing in a healthy educational organization?

Knowledge creation and sharing plays an important role in a healthy educational organization. I have a very difficult class this year. I am also new to teaching first grade. I find myself pulling knowledge from anyone willing to share it just to get through each day in my classroom. I have found this statement by Chaundry and Sivakamasundari (2004) to resonate with me. “By sharing their knowledge, teachers gain more than they lose. Sharing knowledge is a synergistic process – we get more out than they put in. When teachers share an idea or a way of doing things with another teacher – then just the act of putting their idea into words or writing will help them shape and improve that idea. If they get into dialogue with the other person, then they would benefit from their knowledge, from their unique insights and improve their ideas further.” I have been exchanging ideas with a fellow teacher for the last few weeks. She also has a difficult class this year and we talk multiples times a day. I have found that when I share my ideas with her, I think of ways I can improve on my own ideas. It has been incredibly helpful for me. Fullan (2001) wrote, “Establishing knowledge sharing practices is as much a route to creating collaborative cultures as it is a product of the latter. This means that the organization must frame the giving and receiving of knowledge as a responsibility and must reinforce such sharing through incentives and opportunities to engage in it.”

I have found that on my worst days, I seek out the four kindergarten teachers I worked with last year and get ideas from them, as well. I think it is because I know they will give me strategies that I can try if I would like. My first year of teaching was last year and they all mentored me. I often felt like I was doing things wrong or I should be doing things differently. There was weeks many days that I did not feel like I was being successful. They would talk with me and give me resources and manipulatives. They let me experiment and try things on my own, but they were always available help me get back up if I fell. I also wrote reflections in my lesson plans and sometimes made a vlog of my day. Hargreaves (2003) wrote, “Characteristics of knowledge-creating schools include a high volume of internal debate and professional networking, regular opportunities for reflection, enquiry and dialogue, and a culture of ‘no blame’ experimentation and challenge.” I found another quote that I found meaningful to me, personally and professionally. I value reflection. I find it to be one of the most valuable tools in making me a better teacher. “Collaboration in itself is not necessarily a virtuous pursuit – other than for its value in creating social cohesion. Collaboration that involves reflection, dialogue and discourse built around information; which leads to the creation of institutionally relevant knowledge; and which subsequently leads to improvement and planned intervention designs is a potent school development and professional learning activity” (Jackson, 2002).

References

Chaudhry, A., & Sivakamasundari, B. (2004). Perceptions of Teachers about Knowledge Sharing in Schools. Retrieved November 15, 2015, from Idea Group Publishing: http://www.irma-international.org/viewtitle/32334/

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hargreaves, D. H. (2003). The Knowledge-creating School. Retrieved November 15, 2015, from National College for School Leadership: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.131.8905&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Jackson, D. (2002). The Creation Of Knowledge Networks: Collaborative Enquiry for School and System Improvement . Retrieved November 15, 2015, from National College for School Leadership: http://innovationunit.org/sites/default/files/Creation%20of%20knowledge%20networks.pdf

 

Week Ten Reflection (Ed Leadership)

This week I had a lot going on with my other class and challenges in my own classroom. I enjoyed this week because it made me think about when it is right to get people off your team. I don’t think it is fair or ethical to just get rid of people who don’t share the same views as you, but there are times when it is necessary to purge truly negative people. Cindy and I connected about what to tell negative people when they consistently bring their bad attitude into your conversations. Genevieve pointed out how important it is for people to feel valued and how it may change a person’s attitude. Mia and I also discussed how people need to re-evaluate their commitment to their organization and be self aware enough to know when they have outgrown their current environment. Ali pointed out how she she changed schools after being on a negative team, but if she had stayed there, she would have tried to come up with strategies to improve the negativity.

When the following statement is true: “Get the right people on your team, and get the wrong ones off.”

I think that it is important to get the right people on your team and sometimes it is necessary to get the wrong ones off. The making of a good team has a lot to do with the relationships built between the people on the team. However, relationships are not always positive. As Fullan (2001) wrote, “relationships are not ends in themselves. Relationships are powerful, which means they can also be powerfully wrong.” Aligning yourself with a negative person can bring you down both personally and professionally, even if you are not negative yourself.

I am fortunate to work with mostly positive people, but I have been in a situation where I had to work with a negative employee. I remember feeling “stuck” as I was forced to listen to her go on and on about what was wrong with our employer and company. I didn’t know what to do besides try to avoid her. I found an article that gives some advice on what to do when working with a negative coworker. “Long term complaining saps your energy and positive outlook. Don’t allow that to happen. Walk away. Tell the coworker you’d prefer to move on to more positive subjects” (Heathfield, n.d.).

The right supervisor may be able to turn that person’s negativity around. The coworker I was referring to became positive on her own when we got a new supervisor. Her outlook changed and I never really knew what happened, but our new supervisor was a great listener. I always felt like he validated my thoughts and concerns. Miller (n.d.) wrote, “Relationships in the workplace are complicated, limited, and not necessarily the best method of defining the real person. Individual relationships are unique from person to person and new managers should be wary of any press about their employees, negative or positive, until they have had time to do an independent assessment of employees’ skill set and performance.”

Unfortunately, not all negative employees change for the better. The wrong person for your team is someone who refuses to change or whose behavior gets worse. When “efforts to deal with a problem employee are met by disinterest, disengagement, or even worse behavior, that’s a good sign that things won’t necessarily get better” (Faus, 2013). When there is no hope for improved behavior after attempts to get the employee’s attitude to change, the employee that needs to be removed from the team.

References

Faus, A. (2013, August 12). 5 Signs It’s Time To Fire Your Problem Employee. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2013/08/12/5-signs-its-time-to-fire-your-problem-employee/

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Heathfield, S. M. (n.d.). How to Deal With a Negative Coworker: Negativity Matters. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from About.com Human Resources: http://humanresources.about.com/od/conflictresolution/a/negative_worker.htm

Miller, T. (n.d.). Turning a Negative Employee Into a Positive Asset. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from T-Empowerment Coaching: http://www.t-empowerment-coaching.com/ezine_articles_positive.asp