Last Week’s Habit
Last Saturday, I applied the Habit #3 Begin with the End in Mind to further support the transition to standards-based grading in my English 9 and 10 courses. As of last week, I had selected my eleven learning goals and created my curriculum map, but I had only created one sample rubric. Normally, I wait to create rubrics until right before it is time to share them with students and was prepared to do this again. However, considering Habit #3 helped me to see that it would be beneficial to actually create each rubric ahead of time in order to be able to clearly articulate how students will demonstrate proficiency. So, I locked in and typed up all remaining ten rubrics in three hours. Now, I will be able to create lessons directly designed to help students meet each learning goal.
I often walk my dogs around my neighborhood late at night to make sure I meet my FitBit step goal before the clock strikes midnight. As I walk, I notice the blue glow of televisions coming from many bedrooms and living rooms. I remember the period of time in my life when my evenings were contained television time. It’s been awhile. As I listened to Dr. Pumpian explain Stephen Covey’s Habit #3: First Things First and examined the time quadrants, I realized that I drastically eliminated many Not Important activities from my life within the past year, including television. I even ended my cable subscription a few months ago.
A recent renewed commitment to take care of myself and my students has led me to cut many Not Important activities from my weekly plans. But, my long to-do list too often leads me to functioning in the Urgent and Important quadrant. As Dr. Pumpian explained, spending time in this procrastination mode is incredibly stressful and just generally miserable. Instead of worrying about sorting my Not Important activities from my Important activities, I need to focus on prioritizing Not Urgent and Important activities so I am prepared for sudden and unpredictable Urgent and Important demands. One small step I am taking to support this change is to actually schedule items from my to-do list as time slots on my calendar so I am able to adequately plan ahead to peacefully meet deadlines. Maybe someday I can even manage to regularly meet my FitBit goal before I am close to turning into a pumpkin.
Teaching the Habit
After last week’s success, I again scheduled my lesson with Damon around dinner. Right as we sat down at Chipotle, he chipperly asked, “So, what’s my habit this week?” I paused and smiled. Damon spends hours playing the massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Runescape, so I knew that the Slacker traits of quadrant IV could create potential conflict. So, to begin the lesson, I told him that the habit is First Things First, which did not require much explanation. Then, I showed him my sketches of Covey’s time quadrants in my notebook and explained each. Then, I quizzed him by stating generic activities and asking him to name the appropriate quadrant for each. I intentionally saved computer games for last. He laughed and said it was Urgent and Important but he knew they belonged in Not Urgent and Not Important.
To help connect the habit to his life, we identified a few of the ways he spends his time and sorted them into appropriate categories. When we got to Runescape, he admitted that is is probably a slacker activity considering that he spends 90% of his free time playing it. He agreed to take a bit of a break from it within the next week to focus on one of his Urgent and Important activities, which is dropping by his college’s bookstore to purchase one of his textbooks. Even though he has been procrastinating on buying the book, I am grateful that his largest stress is a minor thing that is necessary to help him accomplish one of his goals.