New ideas or changes can scare people. One important aspect of a leader is being able to understand, promote, and receive “buy-in” from their staff when a new idea is broached. As I was reading Eric Sheninger’s first book, Digital Leadership, I came across the importance of having a staff embrace change or new ideas. He states that buy-in “requires a salesman-like approach that might contain if-then rewards” where as embracement is “attained through empowerment and autonomy”. He goes on to state that empowering teachers “to shift their instructional practices and giving them needed autonomy to take risks and work on effective integration techniques” can work to intrinsically motivate staff to change. I found this comparison to be very powerful and it made me think about what is the best way to approach our Digital Learning Plan. How can we get staff to embrace this wonderful opportunity to redefine the classroom and not just “buy-in” to this new initiative? I believe we are on the right path at Clear Spring because we started by discussing hopes and fears. It is important to listen and validate the fears. We have to work together to make sure that our staff feels comfortable and that we come up with solutions and ways to ease their fears. Our approach to to attaining embracement consists of:
- Working together to celebrate the hopes while working to ease fears.
- Listening to staff and planning relevant PD that is provided in small groups, thus allowing staff time to ask questions, work with their departments, and be given an opportunity to play and create with what they are being presented (Schoology, NearPod, Actively Learn, Explain Everything, Difference between Google Drive on the iPad and a Mac/PC, etc…).
- Encouraging collaboration (learning walks, planning, PD) and risk-taking. Staff have to be given an opportunity and a climate where risk-taking and failure are encouraged and celebrated. Lessons will not work, but reflecting and learning from your first attempt is important. Be resilient!
- Allow opportunities for team-teaching and offering tech support while a hesitant teacher is attempting to try new technology. We are lucky to have staff members available to help with lessons. I was observing a teacher using Schoology for the first time and he had one of our “tech-sperts” in class with him to trouble-shoot and help him feel comfortable.
I have studied and read about numerous 1:1 Programs and I understand that overall success and even embracement will take time; most programs I have read about take about 2-3 years before this mindset becomes business as usual. There will be mishaps but leaders have to model resiliency for their staff. Stay positive and celebrate!!! We are given a chance to redefine the classroom with technology; will you embrace this?
Please leave any comments or tweet at me @chrisclinewcps. I’m always looking for ideas and to increase my PLC. Thanks.