(Friedman, 2017) defines self-differentiation as knowing where one ends and another begins. Achieving this state of emotional independence seems like a daunting task, but one I will need to master for the “Join the Club” project based learning innovation plan to succeed. When I first became a Technology Integrationist and assumed a leadership role on campus, I admit I was poorly differentiated, meaning I allowed my emotions to be affected by the anxiety of others. Over the last five years I have been on the path toward self-differentiation, but still feel the occasional pull of the ‘triangle’. I will need to overcome this urge to become a truly effective leader and put the ‘Join the Club’ plan into action. The plan requires change, and change is something that is uncomfortable and difficult for many, myself included. There will be resistance as the whirlwind of our daily obligations tempts us to abandon project based learning for the established way of doing things. Maintaining my emotions and focusing on the goal in the face of this resistance is the challenge, and communicating effectively is the solution.
It seems obvious that engaging in crucial conversations is a skill that all leaders should have. Why don’t they, you ask? Because it’s HARD! As someone who fears conflict, thinking about the crucial conversations I will need to have with people I have known and worked with for 15 years sends chills down my spine. Many will feel that PBL is too much work or that it won’t prepare the students for state assessments. Remembering to ‘Start with Heart’ and ‘STATE my Path’ (I may need to make a poster for my office wall) will help me to stay calm and not let my emotions take over. After all, there will always be a mutual purpose we can agree on: to provide the students with meaningful, authentic experiences that will prepare them for their future.
As challenging as becoming a self-differentiated leader is, I feel much more confident and prepared now that I have the necessary tools.
Friedman, E. H. (2017). A failure of nerve: Leadership in the age of the quick fix (Revised ed.). Church Publishing.
Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2011). Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high, (2nd ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.