I am incredibly excited to embark on our second semester with such an amazing cohort and incredible leadership. After attending the face to face, I can’t stop thinking about my previous experience in teaching with 7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens. I feel that this is such an inspirational and eye opening book and guide for not only my students, but myself. I felt that as we would read through and participate in the activities, they were simple, clear, and had you ready to take action. I had held many discussions with a parent who was so appreciative that her son was reading the book because at the same time, she was reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in her class. It is one of those books that I always had intentions of reading, but never followed through with all of the other books that I was checking out! I am so thrilled to be using this in our study.
So, how appropriate is it that habit one is to be proactive! I am happy to be focusing on this habit and it is an appropriate habit to start with for many reasons. In our middle school, we talk about this with our students, but I am not sure that we discuss the importance enough, nor am I sure that our students understand just how much this affects their daily life in and out of school. I plan to be reminding and encouraging my students to be more proactive when it comes to life in general, but more specifically in our classroom, their learning. As Dr. Pumpian reminded us, we can control three things.
We can control how we feel.
We can control what we say.
We can control how we behave or react.
Yes, these are just three things. The number is small, but the value is enormous! I am going to be focusing on this habit myself when it comes to my career and personal life. I think about how closely those two are connected. I come home everyday and reflect with my husband on my day, teaching, and overall sense of accomplishment. My husband does an amazing job at reminding me of these three areas of which I can control and takes my mind off of that in which I can’t. I think that this is common as a teacher to personalize things from your day. I think that in some ways this pushes me, but in others causes me to lose focus. I enjoy our conversations when I come home and I reflect on why things went a certain direction.
When I think about controlling how I feel, I think about how my attitude can impact not only my overall performance, but also the performance of my friends, family members, coworkers, students, and soccer players. I am human and I know that there are times when I forget this and I would like to make this habit one that I am checking in with each day. I have been discussing this with my students and I will continue to do so. I am thinking about a specific student who had a rough day today and I think that if I had the right words at the time to remind him about what we can and can’t control, it could have really helped him. I know that this is something that I can check in with him about tomorrow.
When thinking about what we say, I think about our school’s five pillars. One of our pillars is Choice Words. I am going to put an extra focus on another side of this and take it to “how we say it” as well. I think that this may be a little more concrete for my students to understand for some situations. It may seem as though my explanations are too vague and that I plan on covering a lot with my middle school, but I should say that we have been putting a focus on character and the discussions in our classroom often lend themselves to referring back to habit. I have been putting a large emphasis on the word “habits” with them and it truly is something we reflect on daily.
I think that one of the harder areas for people is the behavior or reactions. I know that I am a sensitive person. I always have been. This is something that I work on in terms of not getting defensive or taking things personally. I am proud of myself knowing that I have actually grown tremendously since I first started teaching. I will admit that there are moments that I reflect on afterwards and know that I could/should have reacted differently. I know that I will always continue to grow in all of three of these areas. It is a bit harder for my students to reflect on this, but they too, have blown me away with their growth. The other day I had one of our newer students come up to me to apologize for her behavior in the hallway. She came in without prompting and said that she was sorry for being so noisy in the hall that I had to come out and ask them to lower their volume. I do remember my words that I had control over at the time, “Girls, you probably didn’t even realize it but the 6th graders are working really hard on a quick write and I think that they are getting pretty distracted with what is happening out here. I am also worried that they are seeing leaders of the school make such a disruption.” Both girls were new students and depending on how I approached the situation, this could have been either blown off by them, or they could have just felt as though they were scolded. I was so proud of one of the girls who came up to me after school and said, “I just wanted you to know that I was not trying to be disrespectful and I am sorry for interrupting your class.” I gave her a hug and told her how proud I was of her for how respectful and reflective she was. I told her that it showed great leadership qualities. Later on in her parent conference, I found out that she had terrible relationships with her previous teachers and often went head to head. It just goes to show how these three areas of control and change everything! Hearing this helped me grow as an educator and it is moments like this that help remind me of the power of what we say and how we say it.
I know that I have run on about this, so just let me tie it back to our first habit. Habit number one (Be Proactive) is something that we can all be working on and helping our students to understand. This is something that is going to prepare us, and our students, for any situation that may arise. It may be an encounter with a stranger, a misunderstanding with a friend, or trouble in the classroom. Whatever it is, we need to be proactive.