Posted by Maureen Schlemko
Recently, I had another school approach me about the 7Habits initiative we have implemented at our school. Some of the questions asked were “Why 7Habits?” and “What makes it different from other character education programs?” My response involved going back to what my initial thoughts were when I first stumbled upon The Leader in Me book in Chapters one Saturday afternoon. After reading this book at that time, I knew it was different from programs that were known to me for the following reasons:
1. It Personally Develops All Stakeholders
The training process has a high level of personal reflection. It’s not a “program” that train staff how to teach the 7Habits. It’s a process that staff go through to reflect how they are living and can live by these timeless principles to improve relationships and productivity in their personal lives. It also gives staff tools to deal with difficult situations personally and professionally, and above all, it helps people deal with change. The biggest challenge that I have as an administrator is helping staff (and myself!) deal with change. Everyone hates change because it’s uncomfortable. I have read many books about change (thank you Michael Fullan et al.) but it is very difficult to follow through as a whole group. As a leader, it’s finding a balance between moving the organization forward and not overwhelming people. At that time, I believed that the 7Habits would help people in all areas of their life…not just professionally. The education profession can be very demanding on personal time. This was one way to “give back” personally and, ultimately, when people are personally happy then it pays back tenfold professionally. The staff are living the 7Habits and that in turn has made the learning more real and deep for the students and their families. It’s very powerful because staff have ownership
2. It’s Sustainable
Another key feature is that it’s effectively sustainable due to the official and extensive training. When administrators are trained as trainers then:
Whole staff can be officially trained in-house
On-going training can happen at every staff meeting to keep it in the forefront
New staff can be trained as they are hired
Parents and community members can also be trained to develop community buy-in
Three years later, I’m reflecting upon this decision and I’m happy to report that it has made a difference! How do I know?
Staff are walking the talk
Students are internalizing the habits and teaching it to their families
Parents report how their children are referring to the habits at home
Kids have the skills to lead conflict resolution on their own
School council request training
Staff have committed to high expectations aligned with our mission/vision and have made huge gains
We continue to to connect it to everything we do (i.e. digital citizenship)
It’s still going strong! As a leader, I hope that it continues well after our team leaves. That will be the ultimate indicator.
About Maureen SchlemkoPrincipal, literacy specialist, instructional leader and coach passionate about connected leading & learning and inspiring others!
Posted on July 25, 2013, in Change, Developing and Facilitating Leadership, Embodying Visionary Leadership, Fostering Effective Relationships, Leadership, Leading a Learning Community, Managing School Operations and Resources, Providing Instructional Leadership, Understanding and Responding to the Larger Societal Context and tagged 7Habits. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.