Nibs from Nancy

Instructional Technology Integration

Nibs from Nancy

TRT’s as “Change Agents”

November 7, 2012 · No Comments · integration

A recent professional development activity forced me to think about my role as a change agent.  Our role places us in a unique position to change others.  Here are my ramblings concerning this role:

 TRT’s are change agents that strive to enable teachers to make profound changes in thoughts, attitudes and practices in efforts to improve student learning.   Given that teachers do not all possess the same dispositions and skill levels, this is an interesting challenge that is best met when the change agent employs a combination of roles and skills that ideally suit the needs of the teacher.  The role of the TRT as a change agent remains constant, but the course of actions taken to make the change adjusts.  Like a teacher, the change agent differentiates, as needed, to accomplish an objective.  Effective change agents are “jack-of-all trades,” enabling and empowering others to make the necessary transitions that will alter their teaching practices, and ultimately impact student learning. As Heather Stagl described in her article, The Seven Roles of a Change Agent, the change agent may wear many hats including those of the detective, advocate, counselor, facilitator, mediator, expert and the “law” enforcer.  Based on these roles, it is clearly apparent that the change agent must possess a high level of people skills and be extremely perceptive and flexible.  Change agents are guided by vision, but are tempered by reality.   It is a delicate balance of knowledge, skills, vision and relationships.  We are in the people business, and for me, I personalize my role and actions based on the skills, knowledge and attitude of the teacher.   I customize the relationship to suit the needs. I take into consideration the goals of the administrator and any other division initiatives.   I assess the teacher’s current level, and make concerted efforts to push the teacher out of their comfort zone to produce positive results. I use training wheels, then I take them off and tell them to keep peddling.   I coach, model, support , adjusting the role and approaches as needed to enable the teacher to have positive experiences as they work through a new endeavor.

 Influences on the role of the change agent are varied, and directly impact how the role is implemented.  To be effective, the change agent needs to be able to accurately see things as they are, and be able to work toward the vision of how things could be in the future.   That vision serves as a catalyst for all efforts made by the change agent. Change agents should possess a wide range of job-related experiences upon which they can draw.  This lends to the credibility of the change agent, and provides the foundation necessary for the relationship essential to the role.  Having taught at various levels and served in numerous capacities in school and division efforts, I find it easy to see through the eyes of the teacher, specialist, librarian or administrator.  I know firsthand some of the challenges they face, and I also know how to overcome those challenges. I can provide concrete examples and offer suggestions for “best practice” that is based on practical experience as well as pedagogy.   I can develop a lesson plan or a project plan that maximize success while minimizing problems.    My vision is essential to the way that I communicate and interact with others, which has a huge impact on the way I perform my role.  I know that my thoughts and attitudes affect my words, and my words can make or break a relationship with a teacher.  Broken relationships do not get the results that I want to see.  In every endeavor, I make sure to treat all with respect, and intentionally look for the “good” in a situation, looking for that foundational building block onto which the second and third can be added.

 The efforts of a change agent are endless and ongoing.  There is never a discrete finish line.   Instead, with each success, the line is quietly advanced a little further.  It is only when we stop and look back that we can see the impact. Driven by passion, the change agent is an inspired self starter that believes in themselves and others to bring the dream to fruition.  Inch by inch, step by step, the transformation takes place.  Given the nature of change, even the change aspired by the change agent can change over time.  Dreams change, needs change, technologies change…   For that reason, the change agent must be an inspirational source of change that possesses a gift or talent to inspire others.    That means that the change agent must be able to provide the leadership to share the vision and support the efforts to bring about the desired change.   I firmly believe that teachers are some of the most creative, talented, dedicated professionals, and have the ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible.  My attitudes and belief in teachers motivate me, because I know that given time, support and resources, we have what we need to bring about desired change.

 As a change agent, I am acutely aware that change is a difficult process, as I am asking people to explore and alter their attitudes, beliefs, philosophies, behaviors, and practices.   I use my people skills, experience and knowledge about people and the change process to impact others.  I feel that I have found my niche working in this capacity as it draws on my passion for teaching, and amplifies my personal and professional gifts and talents with people and instructional technology. I know that change is tough, but I also know that if we believe, strive and persist, we can move mountains.

 Above all else, faith is needed for strength, guidance and inspiration.  We don’t have all the answers, and sometimes the game plan shifts mid-stream.  The change agent needs to be ready to adjust as needed for times when then the failings of mankind present inevitable challenges for implementing the dream.

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