Throughout this entire study of Covey’s Seven Habits, I felt like I was already sharpening my saw. Many of the messages expressed in the habits reinforce and relate to books I have read, such as Essentialism by Greg McKeown and Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. I am an avid reader and plan to continue the practice of reading informational texts to learn how to be as effective as possible.
Additionally, I intentionally participate in activities that will push to continue lantern gn growing. I attended approximately one educational conference a month and have recently begun pushing myself to present. I enjoy participating in conversations with edtech leaders, learning in workshops, and listening to keynotes. I also engage in conversations through my face-to-face and online personal learning network.
On a more personal note, I practice daily habits that help me maintain a path of growth. My most essential habit is daily journaling . Over the past year, I have written more than 100,000 words combined in my five-year journal and traditional journal. Through my writing, I am able to identify and analyze areas of personal growth. Often, my journal entries are inspired by the ideas shared in the books I am currently reading.
Teaching the Habit
For this week’s habit lesson, I met with Damon over a previously scheduled dinner with his other invested adult. Damon and I summarized our weeks of habit lesson. Damon agreed to continue going to school and listening to us, his invested adults, to sharpen his saw. As we spoke, I decided that the best way to help Damon is to maintain our weekly face-to-face check-ins.
In addition to English, I also teach yearbook and leadership classes. As I work with students in these elective courses, a need for collaborative decision-making often arises. I intentionally empower the students participate in meaningful activities that require decision-making. Most of the time, I work with them, and sometimes am even fortunate to simply follow their lead, as we plan events and create the yearbook. However, conflicts occasionally arise between my expectations and theirs. Since I intend to settle conflicts without taking away their voices and power, I attempted to follow Covey’s Habit #6: Synergize.
Our interactions often follow the synergy action plan. Last week, a class discussion led us through the steps when the students in leadership class asked to play music at lunch everyday instead of only on the days of special events. I listened as they explained why they should play music daily: fun, engaging, uplifting, entertaining, and community-building. I spoke on behalf of the adults in the cafeteria (all of the adults on-shift during lunch also eat in the cafeteria with the students). I explained that the volume prevented conversations, sometimes the lyrics are inappropriate, and the noise and activity is insensitive to the needs of introverts who do not have anywhere else to go to recharge. We brainstormed and all offered potential solutions. The next day, we solidified our plan to make lunchtime music a routine: mellow music on Tuesday, upbeat music on Thursday, censored playlists, and appropriate volume to allow conversations. By working with my student-leaders instead of just compromising on our expectations, we were able to create a solution which benefits many members of our campus community.
Teaching the Habit
When I shared Habit #6 with Damon over our last few bits of sushi, he expressed concern; he said that he rarely participates in interactions that require working with others to find a solution. After attempting to see areas of collaboration in his workplace, school, and friendships, he suggested that is may apply to his favorite setting--playing the massive multiplayer online role-playing game, Runescape. He said he recently began using teamspeak to strategize with other players to prepare for a new game feature. He said he can use the synergy action plan to create truly collaborative strategic plans. I am glad we were able to find a situation in which synergy can apply to life, but I also hope that he will be able to experience more face-to-face collaborative decision making problem solving.
My colleagues and friends often tease me for going too fast. I read fast I talk fast. I think fast. (Unfortunately for the sake of these posts, I do not write fast!) As a result, I struggle to practice Stephen Covey’s Habit #5 Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. When I am listening, especially in a group setting, I constantly practice empathetic listening don’ts, instead I naturally judge, probe, and advice Lately, I have begun to physically place my hand over my mouth or bite a finger to prevent myself from blurting out during staff meetings and instead of asking questions or sharing connections and insights as soon as they pop into my head. Even though it is a challenge, I hope to push myself to remove my hand from my mouth to let out positive empathetic listening practices, such as reflecting on what others’ share. I hope that implementing this habit will help to become more effective by listening more to allow the words of others to better shape my views.
Teaching the Habit
For this week’s lesson, Damon and I met over a table of spicy Thai food. By providing personal examples, I was able to easily explain Habit #5. In know Damon participates in group discussions in his psychology class, so I asked him to use that as the setting for this week’s habit implementation. I also know he has a crush on an intelligent girl in his discussion group. We talked about how he could practice seeking to understand in order to really learn from her instead of showing off what he knows. Like me, he thought it seemed ridiculous to reflect statements if he comprehended them the first time. I explained that doing this would actually really help him focus on the words of the smart girl which could potentially help her to feel validated by his empathetic words and like him more. He smiled and said he would try it. I hope eventually he will be able to practice Habit #5 in more challenging conversations.