Sunday, February 26, 2012

What Makes An Effective Leader?

The most effective and successful leaders are those who frequently re-assess their strengths and weaknesses, while consciously placing the betterment and growth of the organization above personal gain. In addition, little has been done to address the issue of gender and race inequity in the leadership pool. Continued research is the key to fixing this gross injustice.

Honesty and integrity are core attributes that all leaders must possess in order to be effective and respected. Risk-taking and Emotional Intelligence (EI) also play key roles in the success rates of the best leaders. In addition, ethics, morality, humility, and personal values are essential to effective leadership. "Unethical practices that go unchallenged can become the norm of a society or business. Difficult circumstances can produce moral laxity..." (Wren, 1995, p. 498). It is up to us, the 21st-century leaders, to ensure that these types of practices do not go unchecked.


References

Wren, J.T. (1995). The leader's companion: Insights on leadership through the ages. New York, NY: Free Press.

Organizational Change

Inspiring change must go hand-in-hand with managing change. This is especially true as leaders realize that not everyone within an organization is going to be agreeable to change, especially major ones. The level of follower "buy in" will inevitably vary as change relates to each constituent's role and point of view. As change is essential in order for institutions/schools to stay competitive and current, how leaders successfully manage change ultimately determines their effectiveness. To facilitate the management of change, leaders can enlist the help of those constituents who accept change more willingly than others. "Leaders can identify followers who more readily accept and adapt to change, and encourage them to support their peers who find change more difficult to adjust to" (Oreg & Berson, 2011, p. 653). Furthermore, these authors conclude that, "charismatic leaders can help followers' [sic] compensate for the dispositional difficulty some of them have in times of organizational change...[while using] their transformational leadership style to override employees' resistance to change" (Oreg & Berson, 2011, p. 653).


References
Oreg, S., & Berson, Y. (2011). Leadership and employees' reactions to change: The role of leaders' personal attributes and transformational leadership style. Personnel Psychology, 64(3), 627-659. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2011.01221.x

Experiential Learning

Personally, I feel that I have learned more experientially over my years as an educator than I ever did as a student in an undergraduate classroom setting. As my experiences relate to my classroom approach, I incorporate many hands-on, peer-monitored, application-based activities in my math classes. Not only does this approach help maintain students' interest and focus, but it is essential for my students to be able to answer for themselves, the age-old question, "when are we ever going to use this?" Clearly, the lecture-only based classroom is a non-effective learning environment for 21st-century adolescent learners. This approach leads to students who "bow their heads to take notes, lift faces bravely, and too often gaze with a glazed look at the [teacher]" (Braid, 2008, p. 42). Whereas, experiential learning helps "to shatter the glassy stare" (Braid, 2008, p. 42).

It amazes me that on-the-job experience, student teaching, or experiential learning in general--especially in regards to veteran professionals like us--is so often looked upon as being less preferred than formal classroom learning. I simply do not understand that rationale. Don't the best leaders/educators combine what they have learned in the classroom with experiential learning and apply that to their followers'/students' real-world learning environments? How can experience so often count for so little to those in charge of hiring or appointing leaders? Mind-boggling.... 

References
Braid, B. (2008). Majoring in the minor: A closer look at experiential learning. Honors in Practice, 4, 37-42. Retrieved from www.nchchonors.org/nchcpublications.shtml

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Digital Literacy

One topic that is receiving increased emphasis by researchers is digital literacy. The majority of 21st-century students utilize the Internet as their primary resource for retrieving information. Frequently, teachers view this approach as both acceptable and preferred, whether it pertains to learners obtaining a quick answer, or conducting lengthy research. Even though the 21st-century student has immediate access to information via various online sources (e.g., Google, Google Scholar, Yahoo, YouTube, etc.), it is essential that information literacy be adequately addressed in today’s classrooms. The ability to distinguish between reliable information and “junk” should be a required skill that is addressed in all current classrooms. To the 21st-century learner, information competency translates primarily to digital literacy. The ever-evolving nature of digital literacy is complicated (Pfannenstiel, 2010). Nevertheless, classroom teachers must strive to have their students understand not only what constitutes reliable information retrieved from the Internet, but also the more important concept of academic integrity. In addition, Badke (2009) states the need for educators to develop strategies that teach “our future users of information how to go beyond” (p. 49) search engines in order to acquire information; the fear being that if a student is unable to locate something via a search engine, then that student will not find it at all. As role models for students, it is each educator’s responsibility to ensure that their students acquire the appropriate, grade-level informational literacy requisite to maintaining academic integrity, while enhancing each student’s journey as a lifelong learner. I am confident that future research on this topic will increase as technology continues to advance.
References
Badke, W. (2009). How we failed the net generation. Online, 33(4), 47-49. Retrieved from www.cinahl.com/cgi-bin/refsvc?jid=296&accno=2010356030
Pfannenstiel, A.N. (2010). Digital literacies and academic integrity. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 6(2), 41-49. Retrieved from
http://www.ojs.unisa.edu.au/index.php/IJEI

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Emotional Intelligence: The Role Of Communication

Communication plays a vital role in the development and effectiveness of a leader's Emotional Intelligence (EI). When I first started out as an educator, I dreaded having to contact parents when there were issues with their children. However, as I became more of a veteran educator and school leader, I came to realize how important it was to be proactive in terms of communicating to parents and colleagues--whether bad or good news, as it established the partnership which is necessary for my students' success. In addition, I have come to expect the same forthrightness in communication from my superiors, again whether in the form of praise or constructive criticism. "Successful leaders match their communication behaviors to their goals...[and] monitor their actions to create desired impressions in the minds of others...[in order to] reach group goals rather than to satisfy selfish, personal goals” (Wren, 1995, p. 431).


References

Wren, J.T. (1995). The leader's companion: Insights on leadership through the ages. New York, NY: Free Press.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Risk-Taking In The Classroom: A Necessary Component

In my classroom, risk-taking is part of the learning experience and is encouraged. Risk-taking goes hand-in-hand with allowing students the opportunity to fail, without them feeling ridiculed or too discouraged. However, this does not appear to be as prevalent a classroom philosophy as it should be within our educational system, especially during students' adolescent years. In addition, this classroom approach seems to go against our current culture which focuses too much on the mentality to "succeed no matter what." As noted in Clifford (1991), "errorless learning methods have failed to produce the creative, self-confident scholars we had envisioned" (p. 293). Furthermore, in Clifford's research study, she concluded that in the classroom "students often preferred near-moderate risks, expressed positive attitudes toward risk taking, and demonstrated learning benefits" (Clifford, 1991, p. 289).


References

Clifford, M.M. (1991). Risk taking: Theoretical, empirical, and educational considerations. Educational Psychologist, 26(3/4), 263-297. Retrieved from
http://www.erlbaum.com/Journals/journals/EP/ep.htm

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Failure In Innovation


Failure plays a vital role in innovation. As noted in Townsend (2010), failure has value as it allows organizations to learn from mistakes. In addition, "innovations [that do not meet with success] should not be discarded, since it is inevitable that they will find value in some context. The issue for managerial practitioners is to find the correct context through which to capitalize on this value" (Townsend, 2010, p. 78). A "free to fail" workplace atmosphere allows opportunities for leaders--and followers--to dream a little and think "outside the box". Establishing and promoting a "failure-tolerant environment for innovation hypothesis testing and experimentation does not do as much to guide the behavior of an employee with an insight as it does to remind us that all ideas have value" (Townsend, 2010, p. 79). Even though current research data is limited as it relates to unsuccessful innovation, the fact remains that value can be garnered from such "failed" innovations. Failure leads to improvement and a better understanding of what innovations may be more successful in the future.


References

Townsend, W. (2010). Innovation and the value of failure. International Journal of Management & Marketing Research, 3(1), 75-84. Retrieved from http://theibfr.com/

How Leaders Can Develop Innovation In Their Organizations Or Schools


Leaders can develop innovation in their organizations via initiatives that are based on research. In addition, innovation can be best developed when leadership can provide a clear mission and vision, along with honest assessment. "Mission provides a purpose and vision translates mission into intended results” (University of Phoenix, 2012, “Week Six Lecture/LDR 711a/Lecture Four: Assess leadership effectiveness and usefulness in implementing innovation”, para. 3). For example, companies and schools should have a Mission Statement that accurately reflects what the company/school stands for, not what it hopes to be in the future. Vision needs to be reflective of a realistic long-term plan, coupled with attainable short-term goals. Assessment needs to be an honest appraisal of what is currently working, what does not work, and what simply needs some tweaking. The "if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it" mentality is not effective if organizations/private schools wish to stay competitive and on the "cutting edge". In some cases, this assessment can best be done via a third party (i.e., a consultant firm.) Ultimately, leaders need to inspire a passion within their followers if innovation is to make a positive difference inside an organization.

References

University of Phoenix. (2012). Week Six Lecture/LDR 711a/Lecture Four: Assess leadership effectiveness and usefulness in implementing innovation. Retrieved from
https://classroom.phoenix.edu/afm213/secure/view-thread.jspa?threadID=39965931

Brain Bank Examines Athletes' Hard Hits

Scary article regarding brain injuries due to impact sports....

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Few Of My Current eBay Listings....

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