Inspiring Things

Have you checked out my Pinterest boards yet? As a former children’s librarian and teacher, I have curated links on boards to help keep the kiddos entertained. I have food boards, a blogging board, and even a cleaning board. The one I want to highlight today though is my Inspiring Things board which is a collection of quotes. Enjoy!

Change is Scary…the first 90 days in a new leadership position

The following is from an essay I wrote as part of my doctoral studies in educational leadership and management. It was a response to a prompt asking for the steps that should be taken upon stepping into a new leadership role. My organization will soon be going through a transition of leadership. Libraries and schools have a lot in common when it comes to managing people and resources. The concepts taught in an educational leadership program can be helpful when transitioning in a leadership role in a library as well….or really any organization.

According to Watkins, “[t]he actions you take during your first three months in a new job will largely determine whether you succeed or fail. Transitions are periods of opportunity, a chance to start afresh and make needed changes in an organization” (Gallos, 2008, pg. 293). To have a smooth transition, it is important that a new leader, follow a series of steps not just during the first year, but in the first ninety days. These include evaluating the program, collaborating with stakeholders, transitioning towards change within the organization, and reflecting on the process. As Fullan (2011) states, change can be scary. The leader’s role is to make this change as smooth of as transition as possible for stakeholders.

First Steps: Evaluation

According to Watkins, during the first ninety days, it is important to take a diagnostic look at the organization the leader is joining so as to understand the full scope of the challenges and opportunities (Gallos, 2008). He recommends having crucial conversations with stakeholders about the expectations the new leader has for those within the department. Fullan (2011) describes a situation where a new leader to an organization started his role by contacting others in the organization to ask what the organization meant to them. Before making any changes to the organization, this leader first took the time to have conversations about the importance of the organization and what the organization meant to the stakeholders within that organization. Doing this can not only help the new leader gain a clear picture of the organization, but also an understanding of the culture that makes up the backbone of the organization. Taking the time to listen to the stakeholders is also a way to inspire authentic leadership (Heifetz, Linsky, & Grashow; 2009; Gallos, 2008). These first initial steps are crucial to the developmental growth of the new leader.

Since it is important for the new leader to inspire trust and buy-in within the organization, an evaluation model using a collaborative and participatory approach is recommended (Ruft-Eft & Preskill, 2009). Using this type of approach can result in the inclusion of a large stakeholder group, a better understanding of the program and its effectiveness, and improved skills. By involving stakeholders, opportunities are created to help the leader and the new supervisors learn from those who are vested in the program. It also brings to the surface the values and beliefs that are inherent to the culture of the department.

Also important is to take a look at the roles of those in the organization; Watkins recommends that the leader look at team members and their roles to decide if some restructuring is needed (Gallos, 2008). Leaders should approach change carefully so that the people in the organization may adjust to the change. Overall, they must place building relationships as a priority before all else or the changes they hope to implement will be doomed to failure (Senge et al., 2012; Scharmer, 2008; Gallos, 2008; Heifetz, Linsky, & Grashow, 2009).

It is important to also evaluate each situation and decision through a lens of inspiring trust within the organization. Evans (1996), states that leaders who are authentic are the ones who inspire trust and are followed. Goals and actions must be aligned, and there needs to be transparency behind the steps taken. The more open communication is, and the more information is shared, then the higher the probability of success for implementing changes. This can also be part of the crucial conversations with stakeholders. Holding conversations among the stakeholders can also lead to the development of better collaboration which leads to the next step in the process.

Second Steps: Collaboration

Watkins suggests that to build leadership capacity within the first ninety days, the leader must create coalitions where alliances are made with members of the organization who all have a shared vision of the success of the organization (Gallos, 2008). Relationships are very important to change initiatives. While having a coalition is great towards moving the change forward, there must be a clear vision of what the changes are and how the department plans to initiate them (Fullan, 2011). Senge (2012) recommends the practice of dialogue as a way to build alignment toward a shared vision and goals. In a dialogue session, people can talk safely about issues that may exist within the department. Once everyone’s thinking has been established, the organization can then begin to move towards establishing actions towards change.

When it comes to decision-making, a team would be established to come together when there are a large number of choices, typically four to ten, to evaluate. This evaluation would be done using an evaluation matrix (Pucchio, Mance, & Murdock; 2011). To complete the matrix, the team would look at the criterion that needs to be considered for the evaluation. The criteria could be looking at the purposes of a resource; for example, does it fit multiple needs or is it too subject specific? What is the return on investment? By involving the team in the decision and evaluation, the leader is acknowledging that everyone is part of a larger system (Senge et al., 2012). Before beginning the transition process, showing that the opinion of the people in the organization holds value is essential to establishing the authenticity of the leader (Fullan, 2011).

Third Steps: Transitioning

According to Bridges (2003) and Fullan (2011), change is a messy process that inspires fear in many people. Part of that fear is because there is too much that is unknown. In this scenario, the unknowns are the new leader coming in and how that will affect the organization. Bridges’ transition process can result in a relatively painless and simplified journey. Bridges (2003) says that there are three stages in the transition process: endings, neutral zones, and new beginnings.

Endings. To begin, one must start with the end. This is not looking at what may happen in the future, but rather saying goodbye to the way things were (Bridges, 2003; Scharmer, 2009). Some of the things that may need to be said goodbye to are the previous leader and old ways of doing things. This could initially cause tension within the organization because the staff is unsure of what will happen next. The conversations that were mentioned in the previous section are a good place to start for understanding what the concerns may be of the people in the organization. These conversations can help to clear up any misunderstanding that might exist from the confusion (Gallos, 2008).

Neutral zone. The neutral zone, according to Bridges (2003) is the in-between zone of the transition caused by change. In this phase of the transition, people are uncomfortable. Because of this discomfort, some people will try to rush forward before they are ready, and others will try to go back to the past. It is inevitable that they cannot return to where they were, but they also cannot move forward too fast, or they will be doomed to failure (Bridges, 2003; Scharmer, 2009). By taking their time in the neutral zone, they can prepare themselves for moving forward by changing their mindsets. Watkins suggests that it is the role of the leader to make sure the organization is up to speed on what they need to know so they do not lag behind too long (Gallos, 2008). Communication during the transition is crucial to the success of the change initiative.

New beginnings. In the final phase, people need to accept that things are different and change their behavior to succeed where change is concerned. According to Bridges (2003), many people freeze when they are faced with a change to how they have done things. They did not want to let go of the past and accept that things are different. However, new beginnings should be celebrated rather than feared. It is a time for new starts and acceptance. Watkins suggests achieving early wins by identifying opportunities in the organization where good things are happening (Gallos, 2008). Celebrating these small wins is a way to build momentum within the department, but it also helps towards establishing the authenticity of the new leader.

Because the transition stage is part of a process, it can overlap with the other steps. The leader must make sure to pause along the way to make sure that everyone in the organization is receiving accurate information and communication about the process and the changes being made. It is also important to note that the change process of transition is not a speedy one. While it may be tempting to push forward, the leader must recognize that not everyone in the organization will be in the same zone (Bridges, 2003). The leader’s role is to guide people through the process, listen, and reflect upon the actions made (Bridges, 2003; Scharmer, 2009).

Fourth Steps: Reflection

An important goal of the leadership transition in the organization is to maintain or improve the same level of quality, satisfaction, and program success that existed within the previous leadership. Senge (2010) states that “[a] society without a way to value its past naturally discounts its future” (pg. 373). Yes, while it is important in a transition process to let go of the things of the past (Bridges, 2003; Scharmer, 2009), that does not mean that there are not still things that can be learned from what was done. To maintain the sustainability of any change the organization initiates, the organization needs to step back and reflect upon the change initiative and the actions that were taken (Scharmer, 2009). There may be some comparison that needs to be made between the two approaches. The leader can hurt their authenticity if they do not acknowledge that there were things that were working under the previous leadership (Gallos, 2008).

Reflection is an important part of any leadership process, but especially when trialing new ideas that have not been tried before in the organization (Scharmer, 2009). As the leader, it is also important to reflect upon mistakes to see what can be learned (Pucchio, Mance, & Murdock; 2011). Scharmer (2009) and Senge (2012) both argue that internal listening, or presencing, are ways of connecting to people and your change initiative. This is a process that involves not just listening to the self but also having an open mind, open heart, and listening to others. In addition to the leader looking inside, the leader should also hold additional reflective dialogues with the stakeholders within the organization. It is always a possibility that the change effort could result in failure, but there are still lessons that can be learned from these failures. It is important to reflect upon those to see what the organization, or system, can learn from them (Scharmer, 2009; Gallos, 2008). This is different from the dialogues that were held during the evaluation stage of the process. In that stage, the leader was trying to learn about the culture and the people within the organization. This reflective stage takes place after the transition; the purpose of this reflection is to evaluate whether the change is working or if something needs to be tweaked in the process. Change is a process that might not work out the first time. If the leader hopes to remain authentic and sustain success, then they must be prepared for the possibility that the process could take a while (Gallos, 2008; Heifetz, Linsky, & Grashow, 2009).

Summary

While the steps illustrated here focus on the first ninety days of undertaking the role of leader within an organization, it is a process that will not end in three months or even in the first year. The value of taking an adaptive and authentic approach to leadership is that the leader is always learning (Heifetz, Linsky, & Grashow, 2009; Gallos, 2008. If the leader is coming from outside of the organization, they must first learn what they can about the culture and listen to the concerns of the people who make up the system. Listening to the people in the organization shows them that their opinions are valued and it can help to lessen any fears that they may have during the transition process (Senge et al., 2012; Scharmer, 2009). Before making any changes, first gain their trust (Evans, 1996). Once implementing the changes, make sure to maintain open communication and collaboration between those in the organization (Bridges, 2003; Scharmer, 2009). There is a goal of continuous improvement and collaboration where everyone in the organization has a voice and an important role (Gallos, 2008). After the change process is started, then again reflect on the changes that were made to decide if they are working. This is a process that may loop back on itself, but to maintain sustainability, it must be accepted that things might not work. The organization was successful under the previous leader; however, the only constant is change which means that the organization cannot keep doing things as they were previously done. Together through open hearts, open minds, and open will; changes can be successful.

References

Beetham, H. & Sharpe, R. (2007). Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: designing for 21st century learning. New York, NY: Routledge.

Boss, S. (2011). Technology integration: a short history. In Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-history

Bridges, W. (2003). Managing transitions: Making the most of change (2nd edition). Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.

Evans, R. (1996). The human side of school change: reform, resistance, and the real-life problems of innovation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Fullan, M. (2011). Change leader. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Gallos, J.V. (2008). Business leadership: a Jossey-Bass reader. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Heifetz, R., Linsky, M. & Grashow, A. (2009). The practice of adaptive leadership. Boston, MA:  Harvard Business School Press.

Pucchio, G.J; Mance, M; & Murdock, M. (2011). Creative leadership: skills that drive change (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Russ-Eft, D. and Preskill, H. (2009). Evaluation in Organizations: A Systematic Approach to Enhancing Learning, Performance and Change. New York, NY: Perseus Books.

Scharmer, O. (2009). Theory U: Leading from the future as it emerges. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

Senge, P, Cambron-McCabe, N., Lucas, T., Smith, B., Dutton, J. & Kleiner, A. (2012). Schools that learn. New York, NY: Crown Business.

Senge, P.; Smith, B.; Kruschwitz, N.; Laur, J.; & Schley, S. (2010). The necessary revolution:working together to create a sustainable world. New York, NY: Broadway Books.

How I Got Here

Settle in, it is time for storytime; this is going to be a long one. There is a library conference taking place right now. I am not attending, but it made me think of the topics you might hear at one. It is very typical that when you attend a professional conference, there may be a panel of people taking about their professional journey and the road that took them to where they are today. I am a librarian, educator, and author. So I thought it might be interesting if I talked about my own journey to how I got where I am today.Read More »

Personal Learning Networks

As was mentioned in a previous post, one of my classes this quarter is on Social Media. More specifically, it is about social media usage in K-12 schools. Since I do not work in a school system, I approach the topic more as someone who collaborates with schools and that is kinda how I approach my Personal Learning Network (PLN). The people in your PLN should extend beyond your current field or friends. But I am getting ahead of myself…

So what is a PLN? Let’s start first with the PLE- Personal Learning Environment

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Everyone’s PLE is going to look a little different.

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This is what mine looks like:

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I have it broken down into five sections: Resources, Curation, Networks, Communication, and Locations. Your PLE is always in flux and could change depending on what resources are available to you, your current interests, or even your current career. For example, in my course, we are using Wikispaces, but the platform has just announced that they will shutter the site this summer. This reminds me a lot of the Digital Media Concepts and Production course I took as part of my graduate degree. I was introduced to a lot of great resources, but many of them don’t exist now because they merged with other products, the company was sold or went bankrupt, or there just is no more interest in it. Then there are some that we think are gone, but still exist…did you know MySpace is still up and running?

Now to focus on the network part of the PLE, we have the PLN:

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There are three types of PLNs: Synchronous- meaning real-time, Asynchronous- meaning not in real-time, and Semi-synchronous which is a blend of the two. This blog is an example of asynchronous.  If you visited my social media links, those would be semi-synchronous because we could connect in real-time or play a virtual version of phone-tag. *hint* I am usually always online with either a tablet, a phone, or a computer somewhere close by. So there is a good chance you will catch me via one of the social networks.

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Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook make up a big part of my PLN. I try to keep everything separate depending on the platform. For example, Facebook is for friends and family, though I have been branching out to include some private FB groups related to blogging. Next is LinkedIn which I keep strictly professional. I will connect with librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, and many others related to my scope of professional interest like educators, STEM, training, etc. I find people through conferences, trainings I have attended, and even follow several authors. Twitter is a mish-mash of the two. My Twitter contains people I know in real life, but also many others that I have never met. Some I follow for entertainment…my current Twitter obsession is following David Harbour’s adventures with his Twitter ReTweet challenges.

I am waiting for those “dad dance” pics with the penguins…

Then there are others that I follow for professional reasons such as the current Kid Lit controversy about notable male children’s authors sexually harassing other authors.

While I don’t attend the conferences mentioned in the articles, it is important that as a librarian, I am aware of stuff like this. This is why it is important to have people in your network from outside of your silo.

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I admit that I am not very active on the socializing part when it comes to using my Social Networks to their best advantages. I am working on that. In the meantime…

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Sometimes just observing can be okay while you figure out what is okay and what is not for a particular platform or group.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ITSE) has developed standards when it comes to technology usage in education. As a student, I think I am rocking it as far as the standards are concerned. This blog has gone a long way towards helping that along with sharing information and trying towards being a global collaborator. I teach at the graduate and professional levels rather than K-12, so the teacher standards also look pretty good to me, but that is because I have a lot of resources available to me. I teach via virtual classrooms and learning management platforms on a regular basis, so technology and my teaching are pretty integrated. Many of my students are current or future media specialists, so we try to also include resources that they can use in the schools (which is why I am taking a school focused Social Media course).

One thing I have learned is that when you plan on using a particular social media tool, plan on a backup as well. Last time I taught my grad course, we planned on using VoiceThread which allows you to narrate slides via a cloud upload. It only worked for half the students. So I quickly came up with an alternate submission platform using the course’s discussion boards. Now when I teach the course again, I will have that backup already available as an option.

I used to be a member of the Association for Library Service to Children‘s Children and Technology Committee, so teaching best practices, or media mentorship, when it comes to technology use and children is something that is very important to me. Technology is not going away, so it is important that we teach our children how to be responsible technology users. If we shelter them from it, then they are going to make mistakes because they haven’t been taught what responsible usage looks like. If we want them to learn, we are going to need to show them that we are willing to learn as well. So the question is, where can we go to learn?

As a librarian, the archive of resources from Little eLit has been a valuable tool that I still use with my grad students. ITSE has great educator resources. The perfect blend for me of librarian and educator is following the Daring Librarian who is a middle school librarian. She posts great tips and resources for her PLN. Pinterest also has great resources like app reviews and how-to manuals. Twitter has Tweet Chats on various topics. Your library may also have resources like Lynda.com for learning how to navigate the various tools and platforms. I currently have learning about Instagram on my to-do-list.

The closing down of Wikispaces does bring one question to mind…we are posting all this great content. So how can we make sure that we are archiving or preserving it for the future if the place we posted it will no longer exist? Where do we go from here?

 

Upcoming ALA Storytelling 2.0 Webinar

ALA | Storytelling 2.0

I am very excited because if you click on the link above you will find information posted through the America Library Association website about an upcoming webinar offered through the ALSC.

Storytelling 2.0 is all about making the storytelling experience more interactive using new ideas and technology. This webinar explores how digital resources and tools like websites, social media, iPads, digital cameras, computers, and more can be incorporated into traditional storytelling and programming techniques to enhance the library user’s experience. Also covered will be information about storytelling basics and using storytelling as a marketing tool.

Registration is not open just yet, but four dates have been set:

Friday, December 16, 2011; 11 am Eastern, 10 am Central, 9 am Mountain, 8 am Pacific
Friday, January 13, 2012; 11 am Eastern, 10 am Central, 9 am Mountain, 8 am Pacific
Monday, February 6, 2012; 2 pm Eastern, 1 pm Central, Noon Mountain, 11 am Pacific
Monday, March 19, 2012; 7 pm Eastern, 6 pm Central, 5 pm Mountain, 4 pm Pacific

Webinar is limited to 100 students.

ALSC Personal Members and Students: $45
Non-Member: $55
Groups*: $195

You can find more specifics through the link at the top. If you have already clicked on it, did you see who the instructor is? I know awesome, isn’t it? I am both super excited and intimidated at the same time. Hope to see you all in class. 😉 —JH