Over the break I decided to take some time and read Influencer: The new science of leading change.
In the book, the authors share 3 keys to influence change.
- Focus and measure – have crystal clear goals AND good frequent measures
- Find vital behaviors – Don’t spend time and effort on wrong behaviors – instead draw out underused behaviors, risk takers, positive deviants and culture busters!
- Engage all 6 sources of influence (Image below).
One support program, that kept crossing my mind, was a new program created this year called BearsPD. It is personalized, gamified, and has a social twist. While it is still in its infancy, it is having having an effect on learning in my district. We have had over 50% of our teachers participate thus far. It provides choice and voice in learning through 4 tracks – iPad Playdates, Google Apps for Education, Innovation, and Creative Pedagogies. Teachers can earn badges and points for their participation in a program. These points will then go into a drawing for prizes (up to $2000 classroom innovation shopping spree).
The following badges have been aligned to our district’s vision – Learn. Share. Innovate. Inspire.
- Level 1 – Learn Badge – 1 pt – Attend a session. (just show up)
- Level 2 – Share Badge – 3pt – Share what you know (share teacher evidence)
- Level 3 – Innovate Badge – Integrate into the classroom (share student evidence)
- Level 4 – Inspire Badge – Teach others about what you have done (through presentation, blogging, ect)
You can learn more about the program by reviewing the following slide deck.
So how does this relate to influence? In the book, the authors share that you need to target SEVERAL (not just one) of the 6 keys of influence. The following are ways BearsPD aligns to these keys.
Personal Motivation. In the book, the authors share 4 tactics to make them “love what they hate”. 1) Choice 2) Create direct experiences 3) Tell Stories 4) Make it a game. In this program, teachers have complete choice of what they want to learn and how far they want to take the learning. We have also gamified it to add a little “friendly competition”.
Please note – We track everything via Google Apps for Education (Google Forms/Sheets). A BIG thank you @kmgriswold1 for helping us set this up. We are using addons like Autocrat and FormMule as well as a whole ton of formulas I never knew existed until now! I hope to gain better skills in advanced use of Google Apps as it is an incredibly powerful tool and very VERY efficient when setup correctly.
Personal Ability. While this program is about improving the personal abilities of our staff, participants can also request follow up from our coaches. Most sessions are short (1/2 hour to 1hour) and frequent – at least monthly. I wish I could do more – but my schedule just will not allow for it!
Please Note – In the book, the authors also mention feedback – specifically “Provide immediate feedback around a clear standard” (p.128). This leads me to wonder if future revisions of this program should include 1 track that educators focus on all year long to give better feedback. We are going to work on perfecting this with our Google Apps rollout and basic competencies.
Social Motivation. We have a leaderboard that tracks and counts the badges of individuals as well as the badges by building and by PLC/Grade level. Once per month, teachers are emailed their progress reports. On the progress report it has their personal progress (points/badges earned) as well as the number of points of the district leader, the points of the building leader, and the points of each team. Also, when a participant submit digital evidence and it is approved, the participant and principal are emailed their approval with the digital evidence. Eventually I would love to tweet these or have a newsletter with the ideas to have it be even more social.
Please note: the conversations we have with teachers are growth mindset oriented. We know that things will not work all the time. That is OK. The more we can model this at a social level – the better! Also, the book highlights to engage your opinion leaders to help with social motivation. Opinion leaders are not always the lead innovators. The idea of this program is based on meeting the skill of each individual participant. We want all to have a great learning experience!
Social Ability. The final badge – Inspire – encourages sharing. Through blogging, presentations, staff sessions – participants can share what they have learned. At some point, I hope to have more staff lead sessions within this program. (time is an issue) It is incredibly powerful to have educators model their learning in front of their peers.
Structural Motivation. Dan Pink is the master of motivation and has shared that true motivation goes beyond carrots and sticks. (reward and punishment) Instead, what people want is purpose, mastery, and autonomy. When PD does not have these 3 criteria are it tends to fail miserably. No voice. No choice. One time sit and get. No follow up. No follow thru. No direction of what’s next. In this program, rewards are given (through badging and points) by recognizing the behavior we want to see. Show up – 1pt. Try it yourself 3pts. Integrate it in the classroom 5pts. Share your results/learning with others (Inspire) 7pts.
Worth a watch – Dan Pink: Drive – the surprising truth of what motivates us. (10:47)
Structural Ability. This is the area where system improvements could be made. Right now, this program is voluntary. The way it works, is I clear my calendar for the day and hangout in a building. Teachers can drop in before/after school or during their preps/lunch. If I only had more time – this could be so much better. The other thing we have not done yet – is flip some of this learning. That is something I DO have control of. Finding the best way to do this is and have the time in developing is something I aim to do by the end of the year. This would be a great way to model blended learning!
And a little more. One benefit I did not see coming was establishing (or re-establishing) relationships with our staff. Right now, much of the iPad playdates are lead by me and our continuous improvement coaches. While sessions only last around 1/2 hour – 1 hour, I have had the opportunity to have great conversations with teachers. These conversations are leading to opportunities for me to learn/observe awesome things in the classroom. Visibility, trust, and building relationships – also great influential qualities I aim to improve over the year!