October 7

ETL504 Assessment 2 Part B Reflection

My view on the case study group work moved from initial dread (Simon, 2019, 23 July) through to hope for a positive experience (Simon, 2019, August 9). In the end I feel this component has contributed to my developing practice of leadership and understanding how it relates to the role of the teacher librarian (TL).

In our first group effort, members stepped up as initiators, contributors, opinion seekers, elaborators, orienters and encouragers (Roberts, 2012; Simon, 2019, August 18, ). Donna Thurling (2019, September 22) suggested that perhaps groups should have been seeded with some dominators, blockers or aggresors (Roberts, 2012).  I disagree because I think the value of the experience is the authentic nature of the situation. Negotiating with real people rather than just roles or scenarios gave insight for my practice of leadership as a TL. Evaluating real-life reactions to my initiation (Simon, 2019, August 18) or hanging back (Simon, 2019, September 9) developed my understanding of how to effectively manage teams when leadership is distributed to me as TL. Continue reading

September 22

Cry baby, cry, make your mother sigh

After writing my reflection on my group’s process in Case Study 5, I thought it would be interesting to see what other experiences classmates have been having with this part of the subject. Here are my reflections on my impromptu blog tour from yesterday:

My first stops were to my case study group partners. It is interesting to see the same experience through someone else’s eyes. It can be a bit nerve-wracking, as comes up for our scenario-star in Case Study 6, as this includes seeing yourself from a different perspective as well. Dan’s initial reflection  reinforced my positive perception of our group interactions, but brought up the frustration of working with the set communication structures that are part of the Interact site. His second reflection provided some insight on leadership styles – both the difficulty of identifying some or expressing them in this particular microcosm and how our own pre-conceptions and interpretations of leadership styles and theories can sometimes get in the way of our recognising and identifying them “in the wild”. Deb’s post also opened a brief window on our group experience and struck a consistent positive note. Continue reading

September 21

Time is an illusion. Case study posting time, doubly so.

With my apologies to Douglas Adams and Case Study Group 9, time got away from me and our assembled-on-time group response was posted to the forum after the Friday midnight deadline. I think this highlights one of the potential downfalls of distributed leadership. Distributing leadership depends on having an overarching, supervising main leader from whom leadership is distributed to other parties. In the case of our case study group, since we are all trying to be leaders, yet all trying NOT to assert dominance over each other, in the end analysis something fell through the cracks. This week, the timely posting of our response was that thing.

This week was generally hard for us. More than one person commented on feeling less confident about the case study material – noting the narrowing of focus. The wiki-page creator and analysis initiator this week set things up in a slightly different way, which made it more difficult for me to connect with the material. We ended up identifying 4 major deeper issue areas for five people to comment on, but people were also slow to claim topics, so there was more confusion about who was covering what. I know that I had a hard time snapping into the frame of mind for analysing the case study while waiting for the return of the first assessment, processing the feedback when it was returned and beginning to process the requirements for the second assessment. I think a single, in-charge, following-up leader/manager would have helped our process to go more smoothly this week.

On the other hand, this week was definitely a team-bonding, relationship-building success. We had a lot of back and forth conversation in the wiki comments section and I feel we are bonding more as a team. I would not be surprised if some relationships from this group continue past the group exercise, the subject, the session and perhaps even the course. Since I feel that the greatest worth in this part of the course is the networking opportunity and the participation in and analysis of the group dynamic – I actually count this as a relatively successful week.

Five down, one to go.

September 16

By the skin of my teeth

Yay! The assessments were returned a few days early. I made it to my target (HD) by the skin of my teeth which is a great relief due to the immense uncertainty I felt about this assessment. Ironically, I felt more confident in my assessment for INF520 and I did not make it over the line for that one.

I was thankful that the written critical analysis was weighted more heavily than the concept map for this assignment. I suspect that I think more verbally than visually. I certainly found the critical analysis an easier way of unpacking, explaining and expressing my understanding than the concept map. Unsurprisingly, in that case, I received higher marks on the analysis section than on the concept map section.

Concept map of the leadership structure in a 21st century school

Concept map of the leadership structure in a 21st century school (Simon, 2019).

Continue reading

September 14

Crisis of faith

Uh-oh.

I am once again losing the faith. I have stepped away from the path of true devotion and am floundering on the shoals of doubt.

I am having a crisis of belief as the modules start exploring collaboration, the TL as leader, and :booming echo-y voice: 21st Century Learning (learning… learning)…

My character arc was developing beautifully. Starting as a sceptic about the notion of TL as leader, working my way along the path of dawning realisation of different styles and paths of leadership, embracing the concepts of servant leadership and leading from the middle. I constructed my concept map and my idealised vision of the shining golden city – the Utopia of a Change-Resilient Twenty-First Century school leadership structure. It was a struggle but I was on the road to paradise.

Continue reading

September 9

I aim to misbehave

Two major issues that are coming to the fore in the case study group work process are communication and participation. I stole my title from the Firefly character Mal Reynolds as my strategy in this particular case study session was to communicate clearly to my group my paticipation parameters – basically informing them “I aim to misbehave.” Due to my commitments in my other subject (assessment due the Monday of the case study session week) and work (Tuesday through Thursday with little room for Uni on those days) I was only able to participate in this session marginally before the Friday on which the response was due. I took the initiative to share my constraints with the group as soon as the case study email was released. This provided a space for another group member to step forward and take the initiative to facilitate the work for this session. Stepping back in this way was a bit difficult for me and shone a light on how much I like to have control over a process in which I am emotionally invested. Continue reading

September 6

The impossible dream?

Finally, an article has admitted it. “The demands of modern principalship are nearly impossible to meet (Danielson, 2007, para 5).” I feel like we have been reading and discussing leadership in this subject with rose-coloured glasses. We’ve looked at the ideal mix of leadership styles and structures to lead a 21st Century school through change. But, until now, none of our readings has acknowledged the unlikelihood of a principal (or, I would argue, a Teacher Librarian) being able to weild that mix of leadership styles, implement that balance of structures, and accomplish the array of tasks that have been set out in these ideals. Yes, there has been lip-service to teamwork and distributing leadership and the like. But, I feel that there is an overwhelming pressure being put on the students in this subject to take on a mantle of leadership that is too heavy to be sustainably carried by them as individuals. When I browsed through module four and read the various bullet-point lists relating to how we can be leaders as teachers and TLs, I nearly had a panic attack – especially thinking “Wait! I am still trying to figure out how to just get myself through the daily basic expectations of my role… how the hell am I supposed to do or show all of THIS?!”

I do want to dream and aspire and aim high. However, I would love to dream a possible dream that I have some chance of acheiving.

References

Danielson, C. (2007). The many faces of leadership. Educational Leadership, 65(1), 14-19. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept07/vol65/num01/The-Many-Faces-of-Leadership.aspx

August 18

Mostly Harmless

Having weathered the first group collaboration for ETL504 case studies, I have come away feeling relatively optimistic. From the posts I have read so far, it is clear that there have been various levels of participation amongst case study groups.  I have seen posts crediting between two and five participants and I am assuming that the original groups were assigned with no more than a one student variance between groups (I am guessing either four to five per group or five to six per group based on my group of five).

I feel lucky to have gotten an engaged, competent and participatory group. All group members participated in both organisational and content-based interactions. This contributed to what I feel was a solid, task-fulfilling response delivered on-time and formatted appropriately.

I thought it would be interesting to evaluate the group experience through the lens of the team roles described in Roberts (2012): Continue reading

August 12

Conflict Handling Style Analysis

At the end of Module 3.2, we were asked to do a questionnaire (McGraw Hill Global Education Holdings, 2018) to determine our preferred conflict handling style(s) and reflect on the results.

  • According to the model, my preferences for conflict handling followed the following pattern:
    • Minimally strong preference (the bottom score on the “strong preference” range) for:
      • Avoiding: 13/20, and
      • Problem Solving: 17/20
    • Moderately strong preferences (one mark below the top of the “moderate preference” range) for the conflicting styles of:
      • Yielding: 12/20, and
      • Forcing: 13/20
    • Moderately low preference (the bottom of the “moderate preference” range) for:
      • Compromising: 11/20

This would seem to indicate that I avoid conflict where possible. When I do engage in a conflict situation, however, my goal is to optimise solutions (aim for a win/win where possible) rather than to achieve a 50/50 compromise. I find the similar scores for the opposing styles of yielding and forcing an interesting outcome. I suppose it indicates that I use a situational approach where I yield or stand up for my position as seems most appropriate for solving the problem in an optimal fashion.

  • Does this match to how you think of yourself?

When I interpret the results as discussed above, I can see myself in the description. If possible, I prefer to avoid confrontation. I endeavour not to lie or mis-represent my position and to stand for my viewpoint with integrity but also make an effort to do so as diplomatically as possible. I definitely see myself as someone who goes into a conflict wanting to understand all sides and bring about a resolution that everyone is happy with, rather than merely a compromise which has demanded equal concessions by each party but left no-one truly satisfied.

  • What areas do you think you need to develop?

While I am equally likely to sit back in a yielding or avoiding style as to confidently promote my opinion in a forcing style, I am not always 100% sure that I choose the right moment to implement them. I could certainly learn to pick my tactics more carefully. Another area for improvement would be reducing my tendency to avoid conflict so that I can deal with conflicts when they are minor rather than waiting until they cannot be ignored.

References

McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings. (2018). Self-Assessment 11.4: What is your preferred conflict handling style?   Retrieved from http://highered.mheducation.com/sites/007040187x/student_view0/chapter11/self-assessment_11_4.html 

August 9

A New Hope

Case study groups were released today at 5pm. I am in Case Study Group 9. After sending an initial group email, I had a quick look at the blogs of my group members and did a forum search to see what they had posted so far in the Discussion forums.

I am optimistic about my group as we seem to be active participants in forums and blogs for the most part. Everyone seems to have a reasonable handle on referencing and synthesis of information as well. I am hoping that we mesh well together and can create a successful and effective team dynamic to fulfill the group case study component of our coursework.

I have created a new link list in the sidebar with links to the blogs of my group members… now for us to come up with a team name and colour scheme ;-).