Thursday, April 21, 2011

Influence is ...

I am in the middle of the dubious pleasure of having to pack my house up to move out for some serious renovations, and in doing so I have thrown a lot out, and come across things that had been placed somewhere and forgotten about.

One of this hidden treasures was a handout that Suzette Boyd produced for the IASL Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2002 (way before conference material was put online for access later). This was my first conference as a TL, first IASL conference, first time presenting at a conference, and first international conference. What myself and my then colleague Andrea Walker learned at this conference helped us to change the way we worked in the school we were at, and, to achieve quite a few milestones in our library programme.

Suzette ran a workshop on "Power is not a dirty word" using Gary Hartzell's book "Building Influence for the school librarian" (Linworth Press. 1994) as the basis for her workshop. I did purchased the book after the workshop, and it has also been a huge influence on how I think and work at all the schools I have worked in. Suzette has also published her own work on building influence in a school The Connected Library If you are new to the school library scene, or need some help in figuring out how to get what you need, I suggest you find yourselves copies of these books and read them.

I am going to recreate here some of the questions from the 2002 workshop and Hartzell's book for your ponderings....warning they do require some deep thinking ....

1. Who influences you? Select three people who influence you not because of their authority over you, but because you like what they offer, you listen to them and admire them because of their personal characteristics or attributes. Can you name 5 characteristics about these people that together explain their ability to have influence with you?

Of these characteristics you have identified, how many do you think you have?

2. Who do you influence in the work space? Why? How do you know this? What characteristics do you have that make others want to be influenced by you?

3. How do you demonstrate influence as a teacher librarian within and outside your school?

4. Are their parts of your library program of services that the school community is indifferent to? If yes how do you know this?

5. What strategies have you put in place to ensure there is a minimum of indifference toward the library in your school?

6. What is your most effective sphere of influence outside the library and within the school?

7. Have you ever written an article for publication in a non-library journal, or presented at a non-library conference?

8. Do you take part in school politics / decisions? If so, are you comfortable with this? Are you in a leadership position in the school, outside of the library?

9. What tactics have you used to try to influence the behaviour of teachers? How successful were you?

10. If you had more influence in the school, what would be different?

11. What do you do to become personally visible at school?

12. What do you do that takes you out of the library role? Do you volunteer for things that may not be what you usually do?

13. What have you done to capture the support of parents?

The Principal
1. Do you believe the principal is aware of the real nature of your job?

2. What sort of feedback do you get from your Principal?

3. Do you have regularly scheduled meetings with your Principal?

4. How does the Principal support the library?

5. What strategies do you use when seeking support from your Principal?

Can you think of an occasion or incident when through your influence as a Teacher-Librarian, something changed, an innovation was introduced, or a problem was solved for the whole school community? If yes, how did you do it? If no, why not?

Can you increase your profile in the school to make yourself indispensable?
If you leave, will there will be huge hole left that will be hard to fill on a personal and professional level??

Finding these questions again has allowed me to pause and reflect on what, where and how I could improve. I wrote brief notes on the handout which include "need a well planned strategy", "ask forgiveness not permission", "be a risk taker" and "I have been appointed to implement change and this is part of my strategy". All very powerful statements on their own.

I also stumbled up this website The Nine spheres of influence which has a nice breakdown of the spheres that we can work in to increase influence with attached guidance on how this can be achieved. I think the spheres of expertise, coaching, relationships, vision and positive reinforcement are something that everyone in this field can be doing without trying too hard. Then you are only left with charisma, persuasion, authority and punishment - hopefully the last one won't be required.

There is also a quite amazing visual mindmap of how to become a person of influence. It has many verbs on action that can be taken, with very practical advice in the website IQ Matrix blog (you may want to explore this site for more amazing mindmaps).

Your School Library recently held an online conference on Evidence and Image, you can access the papers and conference discussion for $50USD. Gary Hartzell was one of the presenters along with Stephen Krashen, Keith Curry Lance, Buffy Hamilton, Carolyn Foote plus many others.

Having influence as a School Librarian makes a huge difference to what you can achieve, if you have a vision and influence, people will join you to help you achieve it if they believe in you and what you are doing.

"Influence: What you think you have until you try to use it." Welsh, Joan

Sigh ... back to packing boxes now to see what other gems I can find.

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