Changes, Conversations, and Collaboration

Reflection is key throughout every aspect of life. My friendships, marriage, education, profession, and daily life depend on my ability to reflect on and adjust to my successes and failures. These past 5 weeks and the methodologies I discovered throughout them have helped me reflect on my own abilities to enact change. They have also helped me reevaluate my approach to the crucial conversations I face in my personal and professional lives. I always foolishly believed that facts and common sense are the most effective avenues to achieving goals, but now I see that it all starts with the heart and requires a careful approach, especially when the end result asks others to make changes.

Appealing to others’ emotions is something I am very familiar with as an English teacher. I now realize that I haven’t been practicing what I preach to my students. During all persuasive writing assignments, I challenge them to make me hear their voices and their hearts. Anyone can do research and document facts, but it takes skill and effort to make an audience feel. The very first week of my most recent graduate course opened my eyes to the need to apply feelings over facts when implementing our ePortfolio initiative. This is a key factor that needed to be addressed in order for us to have the crucial conversations that will lead to change.

In order to begin appealing to the hearts of our co-workers and administration, Ryan, Erin, and I needed to first determine why we are pushing for this change. This is the necessary focus point that we, as leaders, must return to when people become defensive.  I chose to focus on crucial conversations before learning more about self-differentiated leadership because we believe these reactions will be our immediate and most important hurdles for learning ePortfolios. As explained in the book, when people feel threatened they focus on protecting themselves and their reputations, and it is our job to return the overall purpose to our Why Statement that starts with the heart (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler, 2012). After realizing all of these changes we need to make to our own leadership approaches, our group was ready to reflect on our now unrealistic timeline and create more specific vital behaviors and goals that will lead to the successful implementation of learning ePortfolios.

Crucial Conversations

(Kshatri, 2016)

Applying the Influencer Model and using the 4DX Strategy Plan provided us with smaller, more attainable goals that will directly impact our ability to fully integrate ePortfolios. They also encourage collaboration across the board and create a safe environment. Sharing a mutual purpose will help everyone realize we are in this together and care about everyone’s goals and values (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler, 2012). When looking at the Influencer Model and the personal, structural, and social manipulation necessary to promote change, it was clear that the key for our plan is social motivation and ability. Whenever trying to make changes that include many people, there are bound to be conversations that involve high stakes, emotions, and opinions. Everyone needs to be inspired to contribute and take ownership of the process. This is just another confirmation that understanding how to have crucial conversations will be vital, and our 4DX strategy opens doors to those opportunities while increasing morale.

six-sources-of-influences (5)

Of all the techniques and plans I have learned about throughout this process, I love 4DX the most. It not only helps us achieve our ultimate implementation goals, but it also takes into account the reality of life. Everyone is experiencing their own whirlwinds, which is just another reason we need everyone to collaborate in every step of the process. Without this understanding, I’m not sure I would be able to grasp crucial conversations. These whirlwinds combined with how we approach change can look like a lack of respect, but it is important to remember that we don’t have to agree to respect one another. As long as we maintain respect, we can continue to have crucial conversations (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler, 2012). By embracing this and following the four disciplines of having a smaller, attainable goal; acting on measurable outcomes that lead to that goal; keeping a scoreboard to motivate; and praising effort while maintaining accountability, we will be able to inch our way forward and ultimately end up with learning ePortfolios as an integral part of Owen J. Roberts High School’s curriculum.  


My professional environment has a very different demographic than my personal environment. My friends and I all enjoy the same things. My husband and I share many hobbies. My classmates all have a love for technology and continued education. However, my colleagues have many different interests; some are just beginning while others are nearing the end, some are terrified of technology while others love it, and some are enthusiastic while others are exhausted. This variety is the reason crucial conversations are key in our success. My path and the paths of those similar to me aren’t the only ones that need to be prioritized throughout this process. As a leader, I need to consider everyone’s comments and concerns equally to encourage openness and keep the focus on our shared goals (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler, 2012). Understanding and focusing on why we are doing this will keep everyone motivated throughout the difficulties of change because we all have one similar passion: the desire to help students succeed and become life-long learners.


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.

Kshatri, J. (2016, February 28). Crucial conversations [Blog post]. Retrieved from Pulse website:https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ crucial-conversations-jay-kshatri

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

Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2012). Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high (2nd ed.) [Kindle].


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