Sunday, February 1, 2009


When I read the different assignments for this week I felt that the common themes were personal communication. In an organization there is a certain type of management style.Inevitable changes need to occur, sometimes to make things good and sometimes to make things better. In thinking about interventions it is important to take the individual into account. The main thing is to make people feel that you believe in them so that they want to perform better. If they are made to feel valuable and validated, they will want to perform because at that point they become invested in the "emotional setting". The idea that I was working on last week about being SOCIAL beings in an EMOTIONAL setting is really well illustrated with the articles from this week. One of the article states that empowering employees to do their best and empowering them to make change is effective in successful transformations. I agree with this idea because it works the social being part in the empowerment of employees and the setting becomes emotional with the employees' personal investment in wanting to perform well. Another article stated that the "central concept could be the depth of the individuals' emotional involvement in the change process". Again, this illustrates the philosophy of the employee as a "social being in an emotional setting".

Monday, January 26, 2009

So this is what organizations should be doing...

In reading the articles for this week, I found so many connections to my training in social work. Of course, my training was more with individuals than with organizations however; all of the ideas apply. The things that stood out to me the most was the article by Bushe which stated "pay attention to what is working well, the qualities of leadeership/group process that are working well...and amplify them when you see them". This is exactly right! This is what I was taught to use as a Strengths-Based Perspective when doing therapy. Again this is stated in the article that it is a direct contrast to what we are taught to do. We are trained to be problem solvers. To make sure that we "nip it in the bud". Based on the readings of this week, I learned that the diagnosis that I learned to apply in a mental health setting can be similar to the diagnosis in an organizational setting. If we are open to change and aware enough to identify needs of the organization changes can be made.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gotta Love Groups

In reading the articles, I think about all of the different groups that I am a part of and try to identify who is who...if that makes sense. Who is the aggressor, the contributor, the compromiser, the dominator, the blocker, etc. With different groups, obviously, there are different personality traits that provide an easier definition of these roles. The difficult thing is that in a perfect world we would have groups that "storm" however, they would eventually "norm" and adjust. I feel that when there is a lack of balance in the overall dynamic of the team, we become isolated in different stages. For example, if one person can't get past the storm stage, then the rest of the group is at a stand still because there needs to be some type of group cohesion in order to move on. Otherwise, it wouldn't be a group! The lack of balance, I feel, can stem from a lack of trust, respect and/or common goals. If these feelings are not communicated, it creates a road block. In other group experiences, as a group facilitator, I see the stages well defined, even the adjourning stage mentioned in the Tuckman article. It is very interesting to see the development of a groups' personality and the roles that are either assigned or adopted by members. Having experience with both long term and short term groups, the process seems to be the same. In a 10 week group, the stages can be well defined within that time frame where in a 40 week+ group all of the same stages are addressed however the process may be elongated. The type of group is also a vital consideration. In our profession, as educational leaders, we may encounter more work groups where decisions need to be made based on data or concerns, etc. In a process group, if a specific issue is addressed or there is a certain topic, we are all already beginning on common ground potentially with similar experiences and similar feelings. Another consideration is whether a person elected to be part of this group or was required to participate. This simple piece to the puzzle can have a dynamic effect on the process itself. I think that groups are a powerful force and can be very effective with the right combination of members and a well defined purpose. As I mentioned last week, I'm excited about this class because, so far, it feels like a great combination to admin leadership and social work/counseling.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Where can I find Phoenix Odyssey?

I know, I doesn't exist but it definitely should. Finally, this article has kind of inspired some thinking about our final project. I have some idea of where to start but it also seems like the possibilities are endless. In reading the Phoenix Odyssey idea I loved the concept of the learning planner "considering and utilizing the individual's abilities and needs". What a concept! It seems like common sense yet we don't really do it. Of course we are currently bound by standards based, testing and results but I tend to wonder what the outcomes would be like if kids were studying what they liked, what they were interested in and what they were good at. If we developed their personal skills and augmented with the basics...the sky could be the limit. This type of program would also be using a higher ed perspective in which students can study what they want and where they can thrive. I also wonder how a program like this could benefit our identified "at-risk" populations. Thinking about the special education student, the EL student, the SES student, the migrant student, the minority student, the gifted student and the list goes on and on. Meeting the needs of our students at their level to be able to propel them to higher places should always be our goal.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gaga for Google

The Getting Past Google article last week made so much sense to what I see everyday at work. Kids today are so attached to "technology" daily for everything. As I shared last week, we have so many rules at school against bringing technology to school when we as the adults can't do without. Why don't we just use the tools to our advantage rather than ban them? We may be able to get students excited and motivated to become more involved in school if we are open to using some of the things that they're in to. I attended the Governor and First Lady's Conference for women last week. They were talking about motivation, inclusion, involvement and opening doors for women. Although technology was something that was dicussed in one of the conversations one of the main things that was also shared is the importance of motivating girls and women by using things that are of interest to them so that there is a type of buy in already. This blog has kind of turned in to random thoughts but to try to tie it together, I wonder if we prepare our students with high technological ability does that guarantee motivation? One last thing that probably has nothing to do with what I've written but after reading this article, I hadn't realized how often I use Google myself! It's my first stop when I'm lookin for anything. It's been kind of interesting to have that awareness.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The "how I see you see me" philosophy...

The leader creates the environment. True. Any leader, teacher, administrator, superintendents, etc. In order to run a well oiled machine, there needs to be the essential tools: communication and trust. There has to be expectations on both ends. As we discussed in class, when a teacher has established rapport, including communication and trust, there are specific results we get. We get participation, excitement, connectivity, willingness and motivation. This is critical in any type of relationship. One of the topics that I have been exploring for my personal research has been counselor-principal working relationships. In this type of relationship, we can also explore the idea of the "relationship triangle". How am I perceived by them and how did I perceive them. Then, we think about what do they think I thought about them and vice versa. We are always hung up on how we are being perceived whether it's positive or negative. We make changes as needed but we also expect changes as needed. When a student is feeling safe and connected they are ready to learn. Students feel invested in their learning when they feel that someone is invested in them. The topic tonight took me back to graduate school in the field of social work. One of the counseling styles that stuck with me and still does is using a Strengths Based Theory. The focus of this theory being using strengths rather than deficits. When leading academically, emotionally or socially if we focus on strengths we can get better results. I think this all goes along with what we discussed tonight. We have to focus on strengths so that we are motivated and connected, invested and appreciated no matter who we are or what type of relationship we are discussing. I was recently introduced to a video that shows the power of educators and the effect that we can all have on our students and ourselves. Please find time to watch the video on the left that I've titled "education at it's best". It's almost like a rejuvenation for all educational leaders. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Authentic Learning

When reading the Authenic Learning article it made me think of what has commonly been referred to as "on the job training". For many years OJT has been the best form of learning what needs to be done in a new job, career or anything for that matter. I remember starting a new position with the Employment Development Department and having to read the infamous Policies & Procedures Manuals. It was torture! I mostly understood what it said but I didn't really get it until I had to do it. Once I was thrown into the trenches, I learned policies and procedures in dealing with customers and employers and collegues and supervisors and so on and so on. Authentic Learning has given current "learners" the opportunity to better understand the careers or topics being studied. I think that it challenges the research based vs. practical based method of learning. Although both are crucial to the full understanding of a topic, practical experience has not been as readily available as they have become with technology.
The Polaris system that was created seemed to make real world sense. Students were not only doing assignments for their classes but they were able to see the practical use of their school work and gained actual experience. Technology provides accessibility (hands on experience) to real problems and real solutions. Authentic Learning's "goal of giving learners the confidence that comes from being recognized as part of a community of practice" is something that takes students years to gain. Authentic Learning is not as prevalent because the thought is often "if it ain't broke..." unfortunately, that persepctive limits the options that students can have. Often teachers don't have as much technology experience as their students. They may feel intimidated based on their student's vast technology savvy. Although we may not be seeing Authentic Learning pratices in all classroom settings, this is a teaching practice that is going to continue to grow to meet the needs and demands of the continually advanced students.