Now that I have an innovative plan, it’s time to create an implementation strategy.  As opposed to the Influencer model (Grenny, 2013) which focuses more on cultural and behavioral change, the 4 Disciplines of Execution (McChesney, Covey and Huling, 2012) provides a clear roadmap as to how to create and implement the logistical strategy of change.  It is much more practical in it’s approach.

The four disciplines and the steps to implement them are outlined below and are the basis for the plan I have created.  However it is important to understand that a key aspect in any change initiative is flexibility.  What we think will work may in fact fail completely, and so I will need to be willing to change the process, measures, goal…depending on results.  The ultimate result however should always remain in view and serve to motivate and continually propel motion forwards.  The steps outlined below represent the map, but the schedule, stops and activities along the voyage are still very much hypothetical. The destination, however, is not.

There are five steps to implementing my 4DX strategy.

CLARITY – My team and I need to be crystal clear about our goals as we go through the 4 disciplines.  This step means that we are crystal clear on the benefits associated with blended learning. We know our WHY and we believe that learning is what we need to help the student own.  Our goal is to shift the teaching method from teacher-centered to student-centered.

We also need to get clear on what is expected from each team member. We are all in this together, and unless I can get influential co-workers to recognize the need for this method there is no chance of the plan working.

Clarity on measures needs to be established – how and when we will measure success. Most of this will be decided through open discussions with the team members as well as key people in the school, district, and within the department.

LAUNCH – A meeting with the department head and the high school principal will be the first step.  Once the green light is given, the initiative will be launched during the early summer of 2017 as the two piloting teachers and myself begin to set everything in motion: preparing our forms, measures, technology and lesson plans.  In the fall we will prepare our blended learning environments and present the initiative to the entire department so that they can be witnessing and following our progress.  We will also ask for volunteers to begin implementing a few blended learning activities every week just to start developing a proficiency and familiarity with the concept.  Ultimately our goal is full adoption of the blended method throughout the entire department.

During this phase I will be identifying the models (the teachers in my department who are with me and creating change in their classrooms), the potentials (those who have not bought-in yet but are watching and are willing), and finally the resisters (those who flat-out want very little to do with this change).  I need to show them all respect, give them counsel wherever they are at, and encourage them as much as possible through my example but also through helping them and being there for them.

The school year launch will include an open meeting with the students and parents, weekly team accountability, weekly hands-on meetings for the piloting teachers and a monthly report at our department meetings to spur interest and further involvement.

This phase requires high focus and energy – especially from myself as the original positive deviant.  It is crucial to remain focused and diligent during this phase, trusting the process even when the bumps in the road hit. The whirlwind will be strongest at this phase, because we are introducing a new element into an already very full and demanding job.

ADOPTION – After the launch period has ended, we need to dig in and practice strict adherence to the process.  It will take time to see the results we want to see and to have our plan fully adopted.  When the new vital behaviors become part of the whirlwind, we know that adoption has begun to take place.  This will also include a culture change, inclusion of more and more teachers, as well as continued encouragement and support for those who are implementing the new plan.

OPTIMIZATION – Getting others on board now becomes easier once they see the results and the successes that others are experiencing.  As we share our results, our successes and the changes that we see during our monthly department meetings, more and more teachers have the chance to become familiar with the process, try it out in their own classes little by little and ease into it as they support us. We can use that time to share strategies with them that they can immediately try in their classrooms.  As they experience success they will be included in the “winning” scoreboard and will become more likely to follow us into further steps of implementation the following year.

HABITS – My team and myself will continue to diligently use our new skills in our daily teaching.  We will be committed to weekly meetings and the monthly briefings. Lesson planning is something we will share with each other through full collaboration, so that everyone continues to feel fully supported. We will help each other with Hands-On workshops and activity creation.  We will receive training with both technological aspects as well as the Blended learning aspects of our new innovative plan.

As we reach our goals and update the scoreboard every week, the successes and the progress that we are making will bring about a shift: blended learning will become the new norm.

There are 4 Disciplines essential to following the five steps

My team will consist of myself and the two other teachers who will be piloting the blended learning initiative in our department.  There are 4 main disciplines which we will need to incorporate together in order to successfully execute our plan.

I. As a team the first discipline is to identify our Wildly Important Goals (WIGs).  This is the Clarity step.

It is important to do this as a team so that there is immediate ownership and buy-in.  Sub-wigs must ensure the success of the parent WIG.  Each wig must have a clear finish line and clear measures of success.  We are to focus on no more than 2 WIGS on any given week.

Wildly Important Goals:

  • Implement blended learning in 3 World Language classrooms during the 2017-2018 school year
  • Implement blended learning in every World Language class by 2020
  • Success for EVERY World Language student (every student receives what they need to succeed and go to the next level)

Here are some hypothetical sub-wigs that support the WIGs:

  1. Classrooms will reflect student owned space and student centered learning (active learning) in it’s physical design, with no “front” and desks arranges for collaboration
  2. Teachers will be experts on blended classroom procedure
  3. Secure the needed technology (labs and software or ipad carts or laptop carts)
  4. Teachers will be competent and confident with the use of the technology
  5. Weekly checklists will be given to the students and teachers will create them to reflect personalization and individual pace
  6. 2 student-centered activities (active learning) will be used for every teacher centered one
  7. Technology will be used to monitor student progress and competency
  8. Students will learn self-awareness, self-assessment and self-advocacy skills by using the self-assessment leadership form each week

II. The second discipline is to act on the lead measures.  This represents both the Launch and Adoption steps.

As a team we will establish lead and lag measures for each WIG and sub-wig.  Establishing lead and lag measures is crucial to the long-term success of the implementation of this plan. Lag measures measure the goal and give us the results at the end of the week or of the month. These are the final results.  They show if we succeeded or not in reaching our goal.  Lead measures measure the steps needed to reach the goal, and how well they are being performed. Lead measures are influenceable, they are predictive of the success of the lag measures. Diligent measuring of the right things will insure continued movement in the right direction.

These lead and lag measures need to be established by the team. However here are some initial lead measures that I have come up with which can be modified by the team but will need to be addressed and measured in one way or another.

  1. Use a self monitoring chart to record the nature of every activity performed in class or assigned that week – is it student-centered or teacher run?  The goal is to have 2 student centered activities for every one teacher centered.
  2. Record the amount of time that students are conducting self-paced, independent learning in the classroom.  The goal is 30 minutes per day.
  3. Record the number of weekly planning sessions attended by the teachers
  4. Record the number of weekly accountability (WIG) meetings attended by the teachers
  5. Measure the ACTFL proficiency levels for the students to monitor their competency and progress.
  6. Use the metrics from the technology tracking to see student progress and plan appropriately.
  7. Use a weekly engagement metric gathered from student surveys.

III.  Discipline three is when we take all those measurements and create a compelling scoreboard for the team.  This is the Optimization step.

The four keys to making an effective scoreboard are:

  1. It must be simple to read and simple to update
  2. It must be in a highly visible place so that all involved can see it daily
  3. It needs to show both the lag and lead measures
  4. The members should be able to tell immediately whether they are winning or losing

Because we all teach in separate classrooms and not everyone uses the very small faculty room for lunch, I think the best scoreboard would be an online one.  A shared Google form or website that teachers could easily open and check every day would be best.  A weekly print up of the scoreboard can be hung in the classrooms as well – displaying what we reached at the last meeting.  As other teachers begin to pitch in and support our endeavor by trying blended learning activities in their classroom we can also include them in the scoreboard and hang one in their class as well.

A hypothetical weekly scoreboard might look something like this:

M T W Th F Totals
Student centered activities
Active learning time
Teacher centered activities
Passive learning time
Minutes spent in WIG meeting
Minutes spent in hands-on workshop / training

The totals column might also have the goals listed.  I have not yet found a suitable way to have the lag measures in the same scoreboard.  The main two lag measures are: what percentage of the class is blended learning? And also: Are the students succeeding and making progress as per the ACTFL proficiency standards? I would think the measures would be the results of some sort of summative assessment every few weeks.  It might be nice for the students to also see their progress and I would like to find a way to create an easy and fun scoreboard for them as well.  

IV. Discipline 4 involves creating a cadence of accountability.  This is the final Habits step.  Accountability is maintained through weekly attendance of a 20 minute WIG meeting.  The participants of this meeting will be myself and the other teachers involved in piloting the blended method.  My department head might also be a part of these meetings.  

We are not there to discuss ANYTHING other than the key question: What are the 1-3 things I can do this week to impact the scoreboard?  

The meeting will follow this simple yet effective procedure:

  • Report of last weeks commitments
  • Review and update the scoreboard.  Are the lead measures moving in the right direction?  If so, are the lag measures responding?
  • Make our commitments for the next week

It is important to keep this meeting short and focused so that it does not become a burden.  If it is complicated and time consuming it will never become a habit.  The accountability it will provide the team is priceless and necessary to the success of the plan, therefore we need to protect the simplicity and succinct nature of the meeting.  

I intend to also have longer weekly meetings / workshops where we brainstorm, plan together, share resources, create activities and learn new methods of incorporating blending learning. This meeting will most likely last 1 to 2 hours.  In the beginning I would expect to have several of these per week, as I provide support and troubleshoot with my other piloting teachers.  As we build our new habits and blended learning becomes the new norm, we may not need as many, but I would insist on at least one mandatory workshop per week the whole first year.  These meetings are not so much about accountability but rather to provide a sense of support and collaboration which will be instrumental in helping to keep the momentum and the focus where it needs to be.  They will also provide the tools needed to win – and winning will boost morale and energize the whole group, also drawing others (even eventually the resistors) in.

Influencer vs. 4 Disciplines of Execution

I have found both of these books and methods to be very helpful in approaching this monumental task of creating change in my department.  They compliment each other in many ways.

Influencer ties in with much of what Chesney, Covey and Huling talk about in the 4DX strategy.  Grenny refers to identifying our Guinea Worm (our WIG).  He encourages the reader to pinpoint one or two vital behaviors which are like the lead measures – the actions that we need to change in order to meet the goal.  Grenny helped me to identify the changes I really wanted to make, and how to change people’s behavior, while the 4DX method provided the logistical method which will help me to create a winning strategy around it.  

Influencer provides the vision, and 4DX the map and compass.  Both of these models have helped me to create my implementation plan and have given me direction.  I know that I will be referring to both of these books numerous times while beginning to execute my strategy.  

Grenny, J., Patterson, K., Maxfield, D., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2013). Influencer: The new science of leading change: 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. New York, NY: Free Press.

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