The educational field has experienced an unexpected and drastic change due to Covid. Such changes led me to reflect upon my teaching practices. I work at a Charter school teaching Spanish at the Middle and High School levels. Since my campus started providing one device per student two years ago, I embraced the opportunity and started integrating components of Blended Learning in my classroom. Blended learning has the potential to shift traditional instruction to a more sophisticated way of learning that provides students with the opportunity to have more control over their learning (Maxwell, 2016, paras. 1-2). The flexibility the approach provides through the different blended learning models serves as the medium for students to become more self-directed learners. As an educator, I want to challenge my students as I meet their cognitive and socio-emotional needs in my Spanish classes.
II. What is the topic of your action research?
The topic of my action research is increasing student engagement, agency, and self-efficacy in a 9th-grade Spanish classroom by using the Rotation Blended Learning.
III. What is the purpose of your study?
This research will examine if the use of the Rotation Blended Learning model will increase student engagement, agency, and self-efficacy in a 9th-grade Spanish classroom.
IV. What is your fundamental research question
Does the implementation of the Rotation Blended Learning Model increase student engagement, agency, and self-efficacy in a 9th-grade Spanish class?
V. What is your research design?
I intend to use a Triangular Mixed-Methods approach. This plan will focus on both quantitative and qualitative data, ensuring that I get the best results possible. Through the qualitative data, I expect to collect students’ perceptions regarding how engaged they felt in the blended learning classroom. From the qualitative data, I expect trends to emerge so that I can determine if student engagement and agency increased. The quantitative data will provide a way to determine if the rotation blended approach was the factor that increased student engagement, agency, and self-efficacy, which can be reflected in how much learning happens in the classroom.
The focus of my literature review will be a look into Blended Learning and then diving into the Rotation Blended Learning model. Then I will define student engagement, student agency, and self-efficacy to be able to analyze the quantitative and qualitative data collected.
As the syllabus of this course says, in this class I learned the basics of creating an effective instructional design for online courses using the Understand by Design framework. Besides. I learned how to analyze, design, and build an online or blended learning course and prototype an online learning project for my stakeholders.
In the first module that I created, the outcomes were to analyze important elements of online learning design to develop an effective online or blended course design and to Participate in constructive review and feedback of peer design projects. When I completed the first task I realized that in my course design I included all the supporting resources needed for the stakeholders to be successful in my instructional design. However, when I continued researching how to deliver a course that is user-friendly, I encountered lots of actions I needed to take in order to make the course better. For example, I was missing instructions that would indicate what the participants were tasked with. I continued refining the course adding more clear statements and changing the sequence in which the activities were listed.
The instructional design post has a full reflection on how the course came to life and the structure I used to create it (Click HERE). I also created a short video reflecting upon this step.
I decided to use Schoology as the Learning Management System because it is the same system that is currently used in my context. I also reflected upon this implementation process. The creation of the course allowed me to make changes to the 3-Column table and align the goals to the activities and the assessments embedded in the course. The application of the course led me to justify my design choices, as well as the pedagogical perspectives, and the implementation strategies of the online or blended learning design project. Also, I was able to participate in constructive reviews and feedback of peer design projects. The reflection about the implementation of the course was posted on my eportfolio (Click HERE). I also created a short video reflecting upon the process.
Finally, the course is required to prove the usability of the online class design. The feedback provided by the stakeholder allowed me to make changes that refined the course and made it accessible and user-friendly. The stakeholder created a short video providing feedback and put it in writing too. The video with my reflection is linked below.
I received feedback from one of my stakeholders where she explained what difficulties she faced exploring in the new course, as well as the agility to navigate through the course module to module, assignments, and instructional resources that I posted to facilitate the course learning outcome. Based on the data and worked showcased in this post, I rate myself 95/100. The weekly discussions worked for me as they gave me an opportunity to discuss my thinking and hear other perspectives. To conclude I have to say that this course gave me the opportunity to put into practice all that I had learned in this program.
For the usability testing, I reached out to an outside stakeholder who is in the education field but has not used Schoology as frequently as my colleagues. I would say that I was able to get the right person to perform the test. This course targets any educator who wants to learn about Blended Learning and implement it in their context. I have already shared the course with other colleagues at school and they will also review it in order to provide more feedback related to the pacing of the content I included. Having the feedback from those educators who are in my context and those with different teaching experiences will help me refine the course so that it meets the needs of more educators.
Usability testing: Stakeholders were able to navigate into all of the course divisions according to the feedback provided by the participants. The process took them two hours per folder (Start Here & Module 1). I asked the participant to follow the instructions in the start here folder and module 1. After that, the participant provided general feedback and items they would like to see in the course to make it better. The participant used two ways in order to report back. She typed up her comments and feedback in a task-based document and then she recorded herself showing the course and the specific feedback she had for the course.
The following document has the stakeholder comments and feedback – Usability test:
The stakeholder who tested the course has not used Schoology so much. I met with the stakeholder and walked her through the process of getting her registered in the course. Once I made sure that had happened, I provided a 2-minute overview of how the system worked. Based on her feedback, the LMS is intuitive and allows participants to learn it through the course. The stakeholder really liked how the system had different ways in which answers could be provided: video recording/audio or text. The platform is user-friendly and helps the participants feel comfortable with the system while navigating the course.
The feedback the stakeholder provided helped me in different ways.
I am the one who is creating the course and the links worked for me as I was editing it. However, running the usability test showed me that what I am able to see as editor of the course might not be the same as the participants. Next time, I will register myself with a different account and go through the course as if I were a participant to be able to identify these mistakes that might discourage participants from learning through the course.
Discussions: As I am the one writing the course, the sequence of assignments makes sense to me. However, I need to put myself in the shoes of the participants to see if what I want to convey is clear. For example, providing clear instructions for each discussion board in addition to specific criteria for the comments made by the participants.
Standards: Again, this is because I am not thinking through the perspective of the stakeholder who will be navigating the course. In order to fix this, I will include a short paragraph stating what the ISTE Standards are and how they are linked to my course.
I took the feedback from the stakeholder and made the following modifications:
ISTE Standards: I added a statement describing how the ISTE standards relate to the work of this Blended Learning Course.
In the announcements folder, I added a page with instructions on how to join GroupMe. By doing this, all participants will be collaborating before they start diving into the content of the course.
The broken links were fixed. I registered in the course using a different account and checked the links were active.
I added a clear statement describing the tasks. I realized I have the idea in my head but did not convey it accurately and clearly.
The goal of usability testing is to understand how real users interact with the online course I developed and make changes based on the results. The usability test allowed me to gather the data needed to identify usability issues and improve my course. This process has allowed me to get an accurate interpretation of the user’s thoughts. Such valuable feedback from experienced & qualified user testing participants allowed me to engage in a refinement process which will definitely result in a better experience for each one of the stakeholders. If the course has flaws, participants might get discouraged which is the opposite of what I want to instill in them.
The usability testing affected a couple of activities but did not affect the outcomes of the assessment. One of the comments the stakeholder made was that the outcome from each one of the participants will look very different due to the different levels of comfort when implementing, the needs of the students, and the needs of the teachers (participants). This tells me that the way the course is sequenced allows participants to build upon previous knowledge to be able to implement blended learning through a lesson or even a course.
In this usability test, I frontloaded the support by meeting the stakeholder and walking her through the registration process. I also provided a short overview describing how to use the Learning Management System.
The development and feedback process allowed me to learn and contribute to my community. Click HERE to read about my contributions to my learning community.
ONLINE COURSE – This course is created in Schoology which is the Learning Management System used in my school context. Let me show you the course roadmap so that you get familiarized with the learning environment.
Once you open the course you will see a START HERE folder. The first document you will see is the goals of the course. This is the WHY I created this course and what participants will be able to achieve when they complete each module.
The next section has a short description of the instructor. For accessibility purposes, I included a video in addition to the written description.
The next section has the syllabus. This is a very important document because it has the full course description, what the participants will achieve – or learning outcomes, the materials that will be used (which are included in each module).
This is a self-paced online course with synchronous zoom meetings held at the end of each module so that participants can reflect upon the content being targeted and problem-solve some of the stumbling blocks teachers encounter along the way.
Some other sections that I include in the syllabus are:
How participants can communicate with me and other participants. For example, they can send me an email and I will respond to them in less than 24 hours. Participants will also have the opportunity to use the discussion boards created in the course to communicate with other teachers. I will also share different apps that participants can use to collaborate in a closed environment with others – for example GroupMe or Slack. An additional way for the participants to communicate with me and others is through the Zoom meetings held in each module.
Technology requirements: Teachers will need a computer and access to schoology.
Technical support: If participants need technical assistance they can reach out to the HelpDesk at school. They can solve problems with access to schoology, uploading / downloading documents. If participants need support with the content, they can reach out to me or any other team member via email, or any other collaboration app they may be using.
How discussion boards will be held and the expectations for each assignment. Participants are expected to respond to other participants’ comments so that the discussion stays alive.
Most of the content will be delivered online. 80% will be done asynchronously and 20% synchronously.
The course schedule is included in a PDF file which has links to all resources being used throughout the course.
The content involves small, focused segments of learning that are designed for the participants to meet a specific learning outcome. In other words, the learning is chunked so that the cognitive load keeps the participants engaged in learning, giving them time to absorb, recall and implement what they have learned.
The learning theory that is behind this course is the Online Collaborative learning theory which derives from social constructivism since students are encouraged to collaboratively solve problems through discourse and where the I, the teacher, play the role of facilitator as well as learning community member. Another role that I play is that of an active facilitator of knowledge building.
I truly believe that instruction is not simply about learning content or a skill but also supports students socially and emotionally, which is how constructivists view teaching and learning as inherently social activities.
This is shown in the course through the various discussions strategically placed in each module as well as the Zoom meetings which will be held at the end of each module to reflect and build upon each other’s ideas. Therefore, I can say that this is a student-centered course.
Each participant will have access to the information and will work on the implementation of one of the blended learning models in their specific context. Such personalization of content will be accompanied with active collaboration amongst the teachers through discussion boards. I will encourage participants to also collaborate outside the learning environment by using apps such as Slack or GroupMe.
The first module targets what blended learning is and why it should be incorporated. For this module, participants will be provided the background of blended learning by watching a couple of videos and reflecting upon the testimony of a 6th grade teacher. I like to provide choices so another activity that I added was a list of articles that target the same content in different ways. The goal is for the participants to read ONE article and discuss how their initial thinking about blended learning has changed or what hesitations they still have about implementing Blended Learning. Their perspectives will be also shared during the ZOOM meeting scheduled at the end of the module.
The second module explores relevant research literature to help participants construct a new understanding of blended learning. Most of the assignments included in this module ask participants to record themselves (video or/and audio) reflecting upon the content they reviewed. By including video recording, teachers will experience the benefit of some of the tools that can be used when they implement Blended Learning. My goal as the facilitator of learning is to provide feedback to their responses in the same format (via video).
Module 3 addresses the learning blending modules, module 4 targets the planning of the lesson plan or model and module 5 is all about the implementation of the lesson or model. Each module has embedded assessments that provoke discussion, reflection and in which participants need to complete small projects that are essential pieces of the final product in module 5.
Discussion Board: Answer the following questions and respond to 2 other participants. How would your students benefit from a blended classroom? Or have had your students already benefited? How can you apply those thoughts or actions to your classroom?
Assignment: Deciding to implement blended learning at your school can feel like a massive undertaking full of many decisions to make and points to consider. Which model would best meet the needs of your students? What are some of the considerations you will need to take into account when implementing the model you chose?
Weeks of February 21-March 6
Module 4:Weeks of March 7 -20
How: Blended Learning in Action
Read about “Blended Learning Recipes” and “Where do I start?”
Assignment 1: Submit a draft of a lesson plan to get feedforward.
Assignment 2: Use feedback to make changes to the lesson plan. Create a sandbox in Schoology to share the lesson and resources with the rest of the course participants.
Assignment 3: Deliver the lesson.
Discussion Board: Reflect upon what worked and what you would like to adjust for a future lesson.
Module 4:Weeks of March 7 -20
My name is Luis Herrera and I am currently one of the Spanish teachers at a Charter school in the DFW area. I have 5 classes and I see each class 3 times a week. One of the struggles I have had, even before COVID, is engagement. Do my students comply with their tasks? Most of them do. But, to what extent are they completely involved in a learning task? From my perspective. Not much and that is the struggle I face. I decided to design this online course with the purpose of supporting teachers in learning and taking some of the components of Blended Learning into their classrooms. Blended learning has allowed me to take risks in my classroom and I would like to share my experiences with other teachers in my school context through this Professional Development Course.
The course has 5 modules that will take you, teachers, from the WHY of Blended Learning to a creative stage in which you design a lesson or unit integrating components of Blended Learning and implement it in the classroom. The course will be live in January. Each module may be completed in two weeks. The course will be open until March, 2022.
My school uses Schoology as the Learning Management System. This decision was made during the pandemic and teachers and students are comfortable with the system already. Although I have used it for my classes, there is still much to learn on how to make an online course user-friendly and engaging.
I started the course with a START HERE section. In this section, I have listed the Goals for the course, the instructor’s information, and the syllabus. I gave a lot of thought to the course syllabus as it is the roadmap of my course. The syllabus contains valuable information that will help teachers succeed and stay organized throughout the course.
I included the GOALS section because I wanted to describe WHY Blended learning will support teachers in engaging students in their lessons. My main goal is to give teachers the opportunity to explore best practices and essential mindsets to learn the how of blended learning. The final outcome is for teachers to develop a lesson plan or a unit that matches the needs of the students and the teachers by integrating components of the Blended Learning Approach.
The accreditation standards that influence the design process of the course are ISTE Standards. ISTE standards provide a road map to helping students become empowered learners. These standards will deepen educators’ practice, promote collaboration with other teachers, challenge teachers to rethink traditional approaches with the purpose of preparing students to drive their own learning.
I am using an Outcome-Based Education model for the course. I do not want teachers to sit and get information. I want them to get the information and be able to implement small components in their lessons right away. By focusing on actionable items, I am ensuring teachers turn around and implement them right away. Change is not easy and the expectation is not to implement a complete course using a Blended Learning approach. The course is designed for educators to take small steps and feel successful about their implementation so that they can continue with their learning journey.
The course has a built-in assessment for learning activities that will push teachers’ thinking. Each module offers a variety of articles that provide different perspectives on Blended Learning. This is due to the different content areas they teach. The course also has videos that will showcase testimonies given by teachers who have been successful but who also have had struggles during the implementation. Module 3 dives deeper into the creation of an artifact (lesson) using different components of the BL approach. Throughout the module, teachers will be working collaboratively providing feedback to each other, and sharing ideas to make their lesson better.
The goal is to move each one of the participants into deeper learning. As every participant will be at a different level, I created a folder with additional resources for those teachers who are more knowledgeable and are ready to take risks in their classroom right away.
These are some ways to see if the course is moving participants into deeper learning:
having evidence of implementation of the Blended Learning model in their classrooms.
Having discussions about successes participants have had
Having discussions about struggles they have had and coming up with an action plan
The ultimate goal is for the participants to have control of their learning. The outcome in module 3 provides the perfect opportunity to take risks in their classrooms by designing and implementing a lesson or lessons in their classroom.
To begin designing my online course, I used Finks 3-Column Table. My Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) for the course is: Teachers will design a lesson or lessons incorporating components applicable to Blended Learning by using their school LMS to provide students with blended learning opportunities.
Foundational: The teacher will explain the benefits of blended learning and why many teachers have shifted their practices
Foundational: The teacher will identify how blended learning can be used to support college and career readiness
Foundational: Students will participate in various discussions explaining the benefits of BL
Application: Participants will use a variety of strategies to create effective blended learning stages
Application: Participants will demonstrate proficiency in a variety of tools to implement BL in their classrooms
Application: Collaborate with at least two other peers for feedback during the creation process.
Integration: Learners will use their knowledge of blended learning and Google Classroom to aid their students in implementing a Blended Learning station.
Integration: Participants will plan, design, create a course on their teaching area to apply Blended Learning
Integration: Collaborate with peers and students for feedback during the creation process.
Participants will launch the course
Post student completed artifacts to Schoology
Human Dimension & Caring: Learners will reflect on the success of blended learning and how it will benefit their students as well as themselves
Human Dimension & Caring: Share success/struggles with fellow teachers – what worked; what could have been done better; lessons learned
Discuss the benefits of blended learning for students
Human Dimension & Caring: Discussion
Modeling from other teachers; observations
Learning How to Learn: Teachers will use Schoology and the blended learning plan/s for students continuously.
Learning How to Learn: Ongoing blended learning LMS use reflection
Learning How to Learn: Lesson plans with blended learning components submitted feedback/survey
Creating the online course has been a challenging journey that has allowed me to assess some of the courses that I have already created for my students, especially with the usability. For an online course, I need to be very detail-oriented as I, the facilitator, will not be giving any directions orally. Simple things such as greeting the participants and welcoming them to the course and each module make a great difference.
This course has provided strategies for me to dig deep into my innovation plan and be strategic at planning its implementation. For the Leading Organization Change class, I rate myself 90/100. The weekly discussions worked for me as it gave me an opportunity to discuss my thinking and hear other perspectives.
I truly believe that the school and the stakeholders are key players in promoting educational success. But the complexity of the socio-educational processes and the current scope of school failure highlight the need to promote the interaction and initiatives of other educational agents in the school environment. These agents can contribute to school and relevant educational actions, adding value to other professionals and volunteers from the local community. In my context, the school has been working hard on creating committees in which teachers share their perspectives and build strong processes so that everyone is on the same page. Last year, teachers met to discuss different ways in which the remote learning environment could be implemented at school. The discussion was long but worth it. Each person had a different perspective on this matter and it felt good to have a streamline view of what was expected of teachers and from students.
But, what is NOT working? This year has brought lots of whirlwinds: changes in administration, new systems, new initiatives, impact on student learning due to COVID amongst others are huge stressors in my context. Yes, change is challenging but I cannot forget about my focus and end goal.
During this course, I was able to collaborate with the following colleagues at school:
Mr. Mejia – Spanish (LOTE)
Miss White – Science Team Leader
Miss Makil – ESL Team Leader
Mr. Thomas – Math Team Leader
My new partner, Mr. Mejia, had a completely different experience in his classroom from mine. The discussion we had centered on how teachers influence teachers. This was the perfect segway to share with them my post on Influencing Change. One of my roles as an educator is to inspire and support change so that the school can move from where it is to where it needs to be to ensure the best outcomes for all its students. Change is always challenging but when necessary change takes place, it responds to the needs of students leading to changed practice and improved student outcomes. How am I inspiring others? I usually share new tools I use and strategies that engage my students in learning Spanish. I had a chance to share the goal of my Innovation Plan. My new partner shared the experience he had at his previous school. In our second conversation, I shared the 4DX framework. We came to the conclusion that most of the time teachers have little input into the planning and even implementation stages of initiatives. This allowed me to think about how to approach crucial conversations at school. I have been one of those who try to avoid conversations that are challenging in nature. Learning how to address conversations through which I share my passion for blended learning helps me to grow as a professional. I am not saying that after reading about Crucial Conversations and putting a plan in place I am an expert. What I am really saying is that I am willing to take the risk to be more open to face crucial conversations that will lead to organizational change.
Every course has provided me the opportunity to push myself and share what I have learned with others. I tend to work in isolation but such a fixed mindset has shifted this year. Collaboration needs to be at the center of everything I do at school because it allows me to learn from others and become a better educator. All the contributions to the course were made (assignments, posts, collaborative team) in a timely manner. The videos and readings allowed me to reflect upon my own practice and motivated me to continue shifting towards a growth mindset.
Leaders in school are everywhere. From my point of view, teachers may assume lots of roles at school with the ultimate goal to support student success. In my organization, one of the goals that is shared informally is building capacity in others with the sole purpose of being better educators each day. With that being said, I cannot do that without being a learner. I am always willing to explore new strategies. My hope is that such enthusiasm and passion encourages others in using those same strategies or approaches to have a positive impact on student learning.
Being a teacher leader does not come easily. I am a passionate educator that has unique opinions about what student learning should look like, and sound like in the classroom. In order to build capacity in others, I have the responsibility to be vulnerable and showcase what I do in my classroom. I am not perfect but I am looking for excellence in what I do.
The key factors for me to become a self-differentiated leader are to turn negative comments into negative, have a growth mindset, be vulnerable and have grit. Change is not easy. Every year educators hear about new initiatives that are in place. Some teachers have lost trust in their leaders and comply with the implementation of the initiatives. However, such compliance takes school leaders to unsuccessful results and mistrust in organizational change.
As a self-directed leader, one who is invested in being vulnerable and taking risks, I need to be ready to manage conversations that will promote change and create a mindshift in others. Such conversations will make me revisit “WHY” I do what I do as an educator. I used to avoid crucial conversations, but everything I do is with the solely purpose of making a positive impact in student learning, which encourages me to continue taking risks. The book “Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high” shares a 7-step primer on managing crucial conversations strategy which I will use to encourage others in implementing Blended Learning in my context.
Start with heart. When I ask myself what I really want and what’s at stake, I come to the same conclusion. I am committed to be a better educator everyday so that I can provide the best education possible to each one of my students because they are the future of the current society. The world is changing rapidly and I feel I am stagnant in the way I teach my students. Technology advancements, and changes in society brought by COVID-19 have made a huge impact in the way students are taught and the tools that are available to do so. When talking to my colleagues, they agree on such changes; however, no action is being taken and that’s what starts crucial conversations.
Learn to look. This is a step I have to get better at as I get defensive when colleagues start making comments against what I do or the way I do blended learning in my room. The mindshift I have to make is channeling that energy into leading the conversation with dialogue. When talking to my colleagues, I want to be on the lookout for a lack of mutual purpose. Not all people are ready to have a conversation that encourages them to initiate change. But when finding teachers who have a mutual purpose (being a learner) I need to be able to remember WHY I want to implement blended learning. The least I want to do is to force ideas into anyone. I want to showcase how I implement Blended Learning (BL) and the results I have gotten so far.
Make it safe. Implementing Blended Learning might sound a huge change to teachers. However, what they have not realized yet is that BL has been around for years. In addition to that, COVID-19 forced teachers and stakeholders to speed up the implementation of certain components and models. How does this fit in this step? When having crucial conversations with teachers, I can take the time to listen to the experiences they had when implementing remote learning, using devices in the classrooms, having students off-campus and face-to-face. Why is this important? These are situations and events that teachers have in common and is a safe place to show interest in the experience they had.
Master your story. When sharing what I do in my classroom and how Blended Learning has impacted student learning, I need to be prepared to respond with passion without being defensive. Grace . Not everyone has the same experiences; however, most of the teachers I work with have a passion for learning and willing to become better educators. From my perspective, I need to act with grace focusing on what teachers have experienced, rather than focusing on what has happened to me. In other words, if I want to promote change, I am to take ownership of myself and my emotions and be able to respond to others with my story and why I do what I do without diminishing what other in what other educators believe.
State your path. The most effective way for me to state my path is by showcasing what I do in my classroom. The evidence of implementing Blended Learning will help me talk about my successes and failures. Why are failures important in this step? In order to grow, I need failure. When this happens, I go into a process of rethinking and reconsidering the steps I am taking when implementing Blended Learning. Successes are expected to be shared but most teachers focus on how I have tackled the struggles I have had throughout the process. These are some of the things I can do to state my path:
In weekly PLCs, I will showcase student work that highlights one component of Blended Learning. Instead of doing a different component every week, I will focus on one component a month. By doing this I can lead the path for other teachers who want to do Blended Learning in their classrooms.
I will create a website to start telling my story. This will allow teachers to have a place of guidance available to them at any time.
Explore others’ paths. When having a crucial conversation about Blended Learning (BL) in the weekly PLCs, I need to know where other teachers are coming from before I am able to respond to their comments or questions. My goal is not to force anyone in doing BL in their rooms. My ultimate goal is to inspire others to impact student learning, increase engagement and support students in their quest to become productive citizens. Something I have realized is that most teachers went into education because they want kids to have a successful future. But this entails providing them the tools to be able to be successful on their own. Finding a place in which both educators agree on will allow for some dialogue when navigating the crucial conversation.
Move to action. Crucial conversations cannot be left open. When having these conversations in PLC, roles need to be assigned so that action steps can be documented. It is important to know who, what, when steps are happening. By doing this, the team of teachers will hold themselves accountable. Writing goals as action steps will allow the team to achieve bite-size goals so that successes can be celebrated and help them feel more confident and comfortable with change.
As a self-directed leader, one who is passionate about student learning, I need to learn how to navigate crucial conversations. Having a growth mindset will help me achieve this goal by giving me the courage to be vulnerable and share not only my successes but also my failures.
Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2002). Crucial conversations. McGraw-Hill Contemporary.
Leaders always have good intentions in organizations. They always want to work and do things in the best possible way. However, when an initiative or project is to be rolled out in any organization, planning for an ideal execution needs to be in mind. Teachers are caught up in the whirlwind of the daily job they perform and are often consumed by a number of initiatives designed by their organization. Such initiatives are, from the organizations’ perspective, well-thought-out and ready to be rolled out. However, most of the times teachers have little input into the planning and even implementation stages of such initiative. The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) is a methodology that helps organizations close the execution gap. I have developed an innovation plan, found our main sources of influence, and are now ready to create an execution strategy. To have higher chances of success in my plan I will be using the 4 disciplines of execution, which involve:Franklin Covey & Chris McChesney.
Focusing on the wildly important goal.
Acting on the lead measures.
Keeping a compelling scoreboard.
Creating a cadence of accountability.
As a teacher, I feel I am always in the whirlwind of the daily tasks and struggles of the work I do. At work, I am always multitasking and going from one task to the next one left me with the feeling that I can never catch up my breath. But, as an educator, I cannot get trapped in the whirlwind. My main responsibility is helping my students grow so that they can be successful in life. My innovation plan is the wildly important goal at its core so I will use the 4 Disciplines of Execution to help me turn it into a reality. The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) is a formula designed to execute on my most important strategic priority – innovation plan – in the midst of the whirlwind in the middle of a pandemic.
Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important
Narrowing the focus of my innovation plan allowed me to unclutter the path to see the end goal. I feel I am always trying to attend to too many tasks at once letting the whirlwind drag me down an unclear journey. In my Blended Learning innovation plan, there are many possible goals, but there is one that would make all the difference. The wildly important goal (WIG) I propose is: “By 2023, 70% of elective teachers in my organizations will do Blended Learning in their classrooms.” **The WIG can be altered based on team discussion but will involve Blended Learning.
Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures
In order to come closer to meeting WIG, I need to identify my lead measures. Changing and influencing behavior requires me to focus on behaviors that have the greatest leverage. These are three sample lead measures that I will l share with my team so that I can move towards achieving my WIG:
Teachers will do blended learning in their classrooms. This will be measured by a reflection on how blended learning impacted student learning. Teachers will use Flipgrid to report such an impact.
Teachers will integrate blended learning into the curriculum. This can be done by reviewing and implementing at least two components of the model every two weeks. This measure will ensure teachers apply their knowledge into their own content area modifying and/or adjusting curriculum activities.
Teacher will hold themselves accountable through collaborative meetings (PLCs). During the meetings, teachers will support each other by sharing resources, developing lessons, celebrating successes.
The Lag measure tracks the goal, or in this case the end result, where at least 70% of the elective teachers will do blended learning in their classrooms by 2022-23. The LEAD MEASURES are what drives the success of the intended outcome/goal and need to be our focus.
Discipline 3: Creating our scoreboard to easily display and track our lead and lag measures
I have to admit that this discipline was the most difficult for me to design. I had to think how to do it in a way in which the strategy would really encourage participants rather than get disappointed or feel less than others. In my innovation plan, I stated I would create a site specifically to store PD sessions about blended learning, its types, examples of blended learning implementation in different content areas, as well as minutes of monthly PLCs. By doing this digital scoreboard, the elective teachers can see their progress, support each other and hold themselves accountable for their own progress and learning.
The scoreboard will be updated weekly by calculating the lag measures.
Discipline 4:Creating a cadence of accountability
Teachers will meet weekly. The meetings can be done synchronously via Zoom or face-to-face. When meeting as an innovative team, they will celebrate their successes. This will allow them to hold themselves accountable. The goal is for the team to design their own weekly goals and support each other at achieving them. Such goals are bite-size. This means that they can achieve them motivating teachers to continue growing while they do blended learning in their classrooms. In order to hold myself accountable, I will have the following items for the team:
Account: Report on commitments. I am committed to continue working on the current implementation stage–“here is what I am doing”
Review the scoreboard: Learn from success and failures. Report the implementation of BL and how is the BL taking on instruction.
Plan: Clear the path and make new commitments. Members will share any difficulties and success found through the implementations of the Blended Learning. Suggestions will be recorded to be used during the next section. Questions will be clarified as a team. Help will be offer and PD will schedule
5 Stages of Change
6 Sources Of Influence & 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX)
One of my roles as an educator is to inspire and support change so that the school can move from where it is to where it needs to be to ensure the best outcomes for all its students. Change is always challenging but when necessary change takes place, it responds to the needs of students leading to changed practice and improved student outcomes. The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) process and the Influencer Model can lead to a more streamlined process that promotes change. From my perspective, when using the influencer model, I looked at my plan from different perspectives making sure the participants were going to be successful throughout the implementation. When using the 4DX model, I felt I was taking care of the details and the people who would implement the plan. Such a combination allows me to create a long-lasting and effective change in my organization.
Both models, the influencer and 4DX, share the following characteristics. Through the use of the models, participants are motivated. The influencer model provides the details on how to change behaviors through social, personal, and structure motivation and ability. In the 4DX model, a scoreboard is designed to encourage participants towards change and for it to become a habit. In addition to that, both models provide a clear path for me to measure success. A third similarity is a focus both models provide at the beginning stages of the plan. From my perspective, it allowed me to really unclutter my plan and focus on the end goal. By doing this, I was able to focus on one goal rather than a subset of goals that were not going to drive change in my organization.
Grenny, J., Patterson, K., Maxfield, D., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A.. (2013). Influencer: The new science of leading change. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
McChesney, C., Covey, S., Huling, J., (2012). The 4 disciplines of execution. New York, NY: Free Press.
One of my roles as an educator is to inspire and support change so that the school can move from where it is to where it needs to be to ensure the best outcomes for all its students. Change is always challenging but when necessary change takes place, it responds to the needs of students leading to changed practice and improved student outcomes. My innovation plan’s goal is to implement a Blended Learning approach in 6th grade in order to give students more control and agency over their own learning. For this specific influencer strategy, the goal is for a group of team leaders and teachers to implement blended learning in their classrooms. Numerous factors such as context, teachers, and families are involved in order to advance in the achievement of my innovation plan. In order to increase the chances of this innovation plan, I will use the six sources of influence to increase the chances of success. This process is not a quick fix; it is a process and model for changing behavior at an organization’s core. Based on this, I have developed a strategy for organizational change in regards to my Blended Learning initiative.
How will I measure the results?
In order to know if the results of my innovation plan worked, I will gather different data points. I will gather input from students through polls and surveys. I will also develop a system to systematically collect observations that demonstrate students were engaged. In addition to that, I will meet bi-weekly with team leaders to discuss student and teachers’ input.
There are some vital behaviors that I need to observe in my organization. The first behavior I identified is resistance to change. Corica (2020) states that going against change is due to the displeasure of the challenge as they present new ideas and cause a change of thinking on whoever is involved (p. 2). From my perspective resistance to change is evident by the lack of interest others put in it which can prevent, interrupt or hinder the successful implementation of the blended approach.
Teachers will do/ set up blended learning environment.
Teachers will integrate blended learning into the curriculum.
Teacher will hold themselves accountable through collaborative meetings
The organizational influencers that will support the implementation of my innovation plan are team leaders, administrators, teachers, and technology department.
The following chart includes the six sources of influence to make change in my organization.
*Teachers will learn how to implement blended learning (intrinsic motivation). *Teachers will learn tech skills and provided with tech support often.
*Adopters are provided an opportunity to observe at least 3 blended learning models in a colleague’s classroom. *Adopters are provided technical support/directions for implementation of blended learning models. *One-on-one conferences at adopters’ request. During the conference, adopters will discuss failures and how they are overcoming them.
* Team leaders model how they have implemented one of the blended learning models in their own content area.
*Share student work that has been done in a blended learning class.
*A site will be designed to host tips for teachers.
*An account on Slack will be created to connect the team and communicate with others (support system).
*Teachers will join a closed FB group to allow for networking with teachers outside their context.
*Provide a recognition or incentive system
*Share success at school and in weekly communication system
*I will design a badge system with specific criteria. *Technology department will develop a stable infrastructure (reliable wi-fi) across the building. The organization may purchase additional devices to have available to students and teachers.
John Kotter, the author of A Sense of Urgency, identifies the need for leaders to create a sense of urgency by getting people to actually see and feel the need for change. He suggests that without urgency any change effort is doomed. I believe that the pandemic created by itself a sense of urgency. It obliged the education community, and stakeholders to react and act accordingly to the circumstances to promote education to learners in any way that could be approached.
As an educator, I believe it is my responsibility to teach my students the skills they will need in the future. I truly believe that 20 years from now most of the students around the world will not need to physically be at a campus in order to get a degree. This is exactly why in my innovation plan I propose that students need to be exposed to a full integration of face to face and online learning now. The pre-Covid 19 era exhibited a pursuit of technology integration in the classroom. Most teachers were willing to integrate some technology but resources were not enough in each classroom. COVID-19 forced the educational system to make adjustments and changes to instructional strategies and technologies used in the classroom including the way instruction was delivered. As an educator who is passionate about teaching and learning, I need to take advantage of the new instructional models, educational platforms, and digital tools that are now available to my students. The use of such digital tools will allow my students to access the content they need in the environment that is most suitable to them. The post pandemic or the transition that the society is facing is giving us the sense of urgency again to combine what the pandemic left behind and the new educational challenges. I still remember how difficult it was to have one computer per student available in my classroom before the pandemic. But things drastically changed and somehow every student has a device as a primary tool now. By using all of the new tools and approaches, that is howI can create the sense of urgency to establish the blended learning in my institution. I believe that all the elements are in place to promote the blended learning models that fit students needs.
Leading with heart will allow me to explain what I believe in and how it may positively impact student learning. It is my duty as a passionate educator about learning to inspire others and promote change that will help create a learning environment where students are at the driver’s seat.