Scott R. Laleman
What have you learned along the way?
The whole process of doing an action research project makes you realize just how much work goes into making a change, and how many people can actually help you or hurt you along the way. When it comes right down to it, though, the only person responsible for the success or failure is you. I learned some very valuable lessons about what people say and what they actually do. I expected everyone involved with this project to be like me, that is, if you say you're going to do something, you do it. What I found is that you have to constantly remind people about their responsibilities, while remaining positive and open to suggestions for change. Not only has this taught me a lot about making change, but also about how to become a better leader.
I also found out some things about myself. When I got frustrated, I made assumptions about things without finding out the real reasons. Research is all about gathering data, not making assumptions, then taking action based on assumptions. As a researcher, I need to dig to the root of the problem and make changes based on solid data and evidence.
Attitude is everything. That phrase is true no matter what you're doing, but especially if you're dealing with people on a regular basis. If your attitude stinks, it will stink right through every good thing you do. People remember the bad things more than they remember the good. Realizing this helped me to change the direction of my ARP slightly toward the end of the year, toward working on my leadership style. Working on my attitude and leadership style the last part of the year earned me some good will that I'm hoping will carry over into next year.
Change is good, if it's necessary. Stepping back and taking a good hard look at what you're doing and making changes when things aren't going right shows that you're able to admit when you screw up, and shows that you're thinking about how what you do impacts others. I didn't see this early on in the process and blamed the teachers for lack of participation, instead of looking at others factors that may have been in play.
Looking at patterns is a good way to tell what seemingly minor things greatly impact the results of your actions. Probably the best example of this was when I realized that the 1/2 day institutes were helping me get people interested in technology, because I had a captive audience. Getting teachers to come to a similar setting after school was not working, but I could accomplish exactly the same thing if I was given time during staff development days. Now if I could just get that time set aside every month!
This is something that I'm going to work very hard on next year. And what if I don't get the time? I'll find other ways to get it...during faculty meetings, scheduling meetings with grade levels during their planning periods...who knows? It will take some doing, but I will get a sit down with teachers at least once a month to talk about technology.
I will also work harder at finding evidence as to what is working and what isn't, and make changes accordingly. Solid numbers from the entire staff speak much more loudly than what I think may or may not be going on. Having the data to back up my claims will strengthen my position as the technology leader and help in making decisions for the entire school.
Overall, the things I have learned this year will make me a better leader, more able to see what teachers need from me, and change my plans according to what the staff wants, while also keeping the message that technology is not going away, and that our students will need to know how to use it to survive in the real world.
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This page last updated on Sunday, July 6, 2003