My Collegial partner—Raquel Rudder
"Once you create the Garden, you now need to tend it”
To sharpen the saw involves tending to and maintaining your investments. Just like my garden project is a continuous cycle of improving the soil, replanting, tending to the growth of my plants my commitment to leadership is an investment. Here instead of gardening, I’m investing in myself. As a teacher and an instructional leader, this involves staying current in my practice, making sure the deposits I make are well-focused, and “staying on the edge of innovation.”
Sharpening the saw puts all of the habits together and brings us closer to becoming interdependent. But it is not the end of our leadership journey. To stay interdependent, we need to continue to focus on the habits we’ve developed and enhance them so that we can continue to accomplish our goals.
My commitment to Habit #7—Sharpening the Saw
How I will teach Habit #7—Sharpening the Saw to others
Synergy involves valuing differences in others and focusing on strengths that each person brings to the table rather than weaknesses. To reach this point, we have to be able to “think win-win” and “seek to understand” one another. Then we can collaborate. Synergy is the habit of collaboration and attempts to achieve a better solution. Not your way or my way, but a better solution given our combine strengths.
Our professional development afternoon today gave me an opportunity to practice this habit. The first part of our meeting required the staff to meet in horizontal teams to revise our ESLERs as our WASC self-study will take place next year and as a site we felt their was need for revision. After changing the acronym to one more representative to our school, each group worked on revising the definitions for each part. After collaborating on the new definitions, we did a gallery walk of the options to vote on the best ones. Not everyone on the 10th grade team is a writer and we all teach different subjects, yet everyone listened to each other, valued the different backgrounds and strengths each person brought to the table, and together, our collective efforts produced much better results than any of us could have achieved individually. One could feel the “synergy” in the room. Our concept of “citizen” even incorporates the welcoming pillar. This was probably one of the more productive and motivating professional developments we have had in a long time. Everyone was involved and working together.
My Commitment to teach Habit #6 Synergize
Synergy incorporates a lot of elements of the blended learning model. I am having my AP World students research and collaborate online the changing role of women in modernizing Eurasia. In their groups they are collaborating to look at changes in property rights, domestic control, earning power, professions available, education, voting rights, marriage and children. Some are looking at women in the Ottoman Empire, another group is looking at Russia, a third group is looking at Japan during the Meiji period and a fourth, Qing China. Groups will be coming together to narrow their results and collaborate to achieve a richer comparison.
Covey, Stephen (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Person Change.
Habit #5—Seek first to understand
According to Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, the majority of people do not listen with the intent to understand but rather with the intent to reply. This is definitely demonstrated in the above GoAnimate video. So what does it mean to really listen, to listen empathetically? And how does one make it a habit? Empathetic listening is not just about agreeing with the other person, but showing you understand. It is a skill that takes tremendous energy and emotional strength. You might do this by rephrasing, reflecting on feelings or on the emotions behind what the person is saying, or combine these. If others feel you are really listening, their perception about you will change and they will want to collaborate with you.
Commitment to Habit # 5—Seek First to Understand, then to be understood (the habit of listening)
Listening is not something I do well, and although I have tried to improve this skill, I have not been successful. I constantly find myself interrupting, relating what the other person is saying to my own experiences, or trying to offer advice. I've tried rephrasing the content, but people who know me well think there is something wrong. I'm not sure why I'm not a good listener. Maybe because I was an only child. Anyway, I think if I focus on the emotions that lie behind what is being told to me and reflect on the meaning or feeling, listening might come more nature.
How I plan to teach habit #5 to others:
1. Ask my AP World History students what they think it means to really listen to someone?
2. When was the last time they did this?
3. Teach the steps of empathetic listening.
4. Have them check how they react to people during their next ten encounters. Are they responding too quickly, are they being judgement, giving advice without being asked, interrupting, or are they really listening? Assess where they are at.
5. Have students practice with three to five other people they encounter and report back on their progress.
Covey, Stephen (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Person Change.
HABIT #4—Think Win-Win
Steven Covey’s habit, “Think Win-Win” is all about re-examining our relationships with others and thinking about how we can work together despite our differences to create a winning situation for everyone. According to Dr. Pumpian’s presentation, it is not about “getting your way” or “my way”, but about creating a better way. Through cooperation and collaboration, we can work together to meet both of our needs. Win-win is not about getting better results through competition, but rather by cooperation.
This is a habit I have struggled with and it is an area where improvement is needed. I am very competitive and do not always view relationships cooperatively. This was particularly the case last year when I was asked to give a colleague one of my AP World sections and assist her in designing curriculum and in teaching the course. My original thoughts were that it was my course. I had implemented the course at our school, had been teaching it for years, had experienced joy and success from the course, and I was outraged with the idea of sharing it. My colleague had approached me wanting to collaborate, that together, we might be able to make the course even better. I, on the hand, viewed us as competitors and worried that she might try to take my other section if she decided she enjoyed teaching the course. Obviously, this was not creating a win-win situation. My feelings about our work together changed when I noticed how hard she was working and that she was excited to share lessons she developed or materials from workshops she attended. In the end, I decided the best strategy for all concerned was cooperation and collaboration, not only to make the program better, but because it was not just about the two of us but about the students we were serving. I wanted all of the students to achieve and do well in the course; not just my own.
I am continuing to put “think win-win” into practice in working with my AP World History colleague and in working with fellow staff members to integrate technology into their classrooms. In terms to technology, I want my colleagues to be successful and have a positive experience with technologies in their classrooms. I also want everyone onboard with ideas I have to improve technology needs at our school. This will only work with a “win-win” strategy.
Commitment to teach Habit #4 Think Win-Win
I plan to share my habit with my husband, my AP World Colleague, and with my AP World History students. This will be a perfect opportunity, as my husband and I are both trying to lose weight. In the past I have viewed this competitively and we have not really worked together to change some of our eating habits. We often sabotaged the other’s efforts by bringing home the other’s favorite ice cream. We are both working cooperatively to eat healthy, regardless of who is cooking and come up with a plan that will work for both of us, rather than each having completely different plans. In terms my AP World colleague, I will continue to work with her to develop a better AP program, rather than keeping all of the resources to myself. For my AP World students, I have already encouraged them to work collaboratively and collectively with each other and to not view the course as a competition against each other. For example, not all class members worked on the Opium War conflict. Some worked on the Taiping or Boxer rebellions in China. For an up-coming Document Based Exam (DBQ) that focused primarily on the Opium War, I asked students who were experts on the Opium War to share their knowledge and work cooperatively and collaboratively with one another so that all students would benefit from this. I also had students who were better with analyzing point a view assist students who were not and students who were good at thesis statements assist students who were not.
Steps: Have AP World Students:
Habit #3—Put first things first
This habit is all about the importance of time management but draws upon the first two habits. Once you are proactive and you have the end in mind and know what is important, you can prioritize your life (at least this is the idea). According to Dr. Pumpian's presentation, habit three is a habit of "integrity and execution." In terms of reflecting and committing to this habit, the area I need to work on is the execution.
The above Time Management Quadrant was adapted from Stephen Covey's Time Management Matrix and modified to fit my own life workflow. Thinking about my time management and about the end in mind, and whether I am "putting first things first", I concluded that I toggle back and forth between Q1 and Q2. As much as I really do try to plan and set goals in order to "prioritize", I often find myself in the "Procrastinator" box. I used to be in the "Yes, Man" box, but during the past few years I have moved out of the Q3 box for the most part. However, I occasionally find myself in it out of guilt or when I am not effectively delegating tasks that I do not need to do myself to someone else.
So, what is the next best thing to do?
For starters, designing the above time management quadrant helped me to visualize my next steps as opposed to having it all in my head. Now that I have a picture of where I'm at, I can better management my workflow. Returning to the David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) model which involves the five steps: collect, process, organize, plan, and do, I need to look at my list in Q2, and come up with a reasonable plan to accomplish these goals and then execute the plan. I find I'm good at organizing what it is I need to do, but don't break it down into specific allotments of time. I then find myself committing to additional tasks that I realistically either do not have time for or they are not helping me reach my end goal. My implementation plan for this habit is to figure out the time needed to achieve my priorities listed in Q2, plan according to these priorities (if necessary, reorder them), and in doing this, I should be able to achieve my highest priorities.
Commitment to teach Habit #3—Put First Things First (A Time Management Habit)
I plan to share what I am doing to implement the habit with my husband and with my AP World History students. This will be the perfect week for this as my husband and I have both been tracking our expenses now for a few weeks and he is also interested in time management strategies. Also, in terms of my AP World students, articulation is this week and this is the first time teachers rather than just counselors are involved in the planning and scheduling process. We are going to be using Naviance instead of articulation cards, and we are provide guidance to students for our subject areas and in long term planning to meet a-g requirements, as well as selection of colleges they are interested in attending and courses they might take.
Steps: Have AP World Students:
1. Reflect on last week's habit, begin with the end in mind.
2. Create a Time Management Matrix and asses what quadrant they are in.
3. List their priorities and think about what priorities they are putting first, what roadblocks take them off course, and how do they get back on course.
4. Select a classmate to help keep them on track.
5. Commit to revisiting how this is going in a week.
Start with the End in Mind
The Labyrinth represents the often complicated, irregular network of paths to navigate to find one’s way. The traveler on this journey has only one choice, to enter or not to enter. Once the choice to enter is made, the traveler is constantly challenged by decisions and frustrations; some that lead to dead ends and need to be rethought in order to reach the end. The Desert Rose Labyrinth, pictured above is an eleven-circuit labyrinth in the Coyote Gulch Art Village in Utah. There are similar one’s in the Anza Borrego desert, including the maze of slot canyons, a type of labyrinth. My husband and I are fascinated by labyrinths and enter one when an opportunity arises. We also love to hike in the desert and explore the slot canyons to enjoy the calm, reflect, and rediscover our center. Hiking in the desert involves planning, as it is easy to lose one’s way. Like the labyrinth, live is filled with choices. From the time we are born, we are told to be proactive, plan for the future, and make the right choices to reach our goals. This requires staying focused on what’s important, prioritizing our goals, and planning time accordingly to get results. However, I often find my personal aspirations outside of work are often put on hold because of circumstances outside of my control or because I am so focused on professional goals. As I get closer to turning fifty, I find myself feeling like I am running short of time to align with what Jerry Patterson and Dr. Pumpian refer to as my True North, and I am constantly questioning whether I am making the right choices. When one is younger, it seems there is always time to make changes in our own behavior.
According to Dr. Pumpian’s presentation, starting with the end in mind is a habit of vision, and the best way to predict our future is to create it. Beginning with the end in mind comes easier for me as a teacher, both in terms of lesson and unit design, and it is beginning to get easier in leadership roles I have chosen, at least where the purpose and vision is already defined and I am charged with making it happen. In terms of areas I need to develop, these include the type of leadership I want to model and to be a part of and my authenticity as a leader. I have goals I want to achieve and several projects in mind, but sometimes have trouble following through with all of them.
A current goal this year, which came out of my needs assessment last semester is to use Asset Funds (not that money is available) to set-up a computer lab for students who do not have access to computers at home and need time to work after school. I need to better define what this will look like and the resources needed to make it successful. Viewing the end in mind and developing a blueprint will allow the project to be more successful.
My commitment this week in terms of teaching the habit—start with the end in mind—is to continue to teach my AP World History students. Last week, we looked at management strategies to be proactive in their workflow and in goal setting to improve their writing. This week we will focus on starting with the end in mind.
Steps: Have AP students
1. Start with an end goal to increase their learning
2. Select a goal to improve communication and prioritizing to get the results they want.
3. If the result isn’t what they intended in order to reach their goal, what will they change?
Leading by Example to Promote implementation of the vision