Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Self-Differentiation in a 1:1 iPad Environment

The ability to lead change in an organization seems like an easy task. Often, it is viewed as being a coach that is a motivator and makes everyone feel like they are a part of the team. While there is an element of leadership that requires these attributes, often long-lasting change and shift in the culture of an organization must come from a self-differentiated leader.

self-differentiation: knowing your job and staying connected to others without losing identity or taking on the anxiety of the group.

While intelligence, self confidence, sociability, technique, and even skill are necessary, "knowing where one ends and another begins" gives you, as a leader, the ability to see the goal objectively, and lead others to stay the course throughout the uncomfortable change. 

While I may not be the "leader" of my own campus, I have a role to play as teachers and administration continue in a 1:1 iPad environment. Developing this type of environment is an ongoing process (I've been through implementation twice in the last 5 years!). It brings on a lot of anxiety for teachers who are trying to navigate basic use of the iPad WHILE trying to determine how to teach with the device. It's overwhelming! iPads can put pressure on the way teachers have been used to teaching for several years. These emotions create what Edwin Friedman would call "emotional triangles," or relationships between others, objects, or feelings that may have positive or negative impacts.

I have seen, over the last 4 years, students apply their learning in ways that were not possible without the iPad. The ability to navigate this new way of teaching is held strong by my convictions as a student-centered instructor. I see the struggle that teachers have in implementing iPads-with some even resisting the use of them in the classroom. However, it is within my power to ask the questions that can help a teacher detach from the emotional anxiety these devices can bring, and get down to the heart of what is needed: guidance, training, and collaboration time.

As the conversations begin to open up and we focus on goals for our iPad learning environment, I especially need to have the courage and emotional stability to bring forth the plan and to be able to freely ask "what is the goal for iPads in the classroom?" I have to have the courage to hold people accountable to the execution plan. And I have to have the ability to communicate my set of values and principles and the importance of setting a goal for growth has to be said, in a caring manner.

At the end of the day, I see people around me that just need guidance. Friedman says, "...a loss of playfulness destroys perspective." The frustrations that the iPad are creating aren't really about the device-it's really about the need for teachers to be supported, with clear expectations, and to be well prepared for the technology that is here and is not going away. As educators, we need to get back to the fun and richness of learning. iPads aren't scary, we just need to come together as a team and support each other. And those of us that are equipped to use the technology have a responsibility, held by our strong convictions, to navigate this journey and influence others in achieving this goal.

Camp, Jonathan. "Friedman's Theory of Differentiated Leadership." YouTube. Matthew David Bardwell, 10 Nov. 2010. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. <>. 

Friedman, Edwin H., Margaret M. Treadwell, and Edward W. Beal. A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. New York: Seabury, 2007. Print. 

Walters, Teresa M. "Chrysalis Connections 10 Attributes of a Differentiated Person." YouTube. Teresa M. Walters, 26 Sept. 2014. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. <>. 

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