Betty Boult was the keeper of the knowledge when it came to Stephen Covey and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People when I first started teaching in Abbotsford. She had done the facilitators training and she facilitated with flair. We had animated discussions and were committed to engaging with the ideas and doing the work to complete the workbook meticulously. I can still play out some conversations that resonated and remember my queries around some of the habits. Those were the days when “sharpening the saw” was just a part of daily life and took much less deliberate effort. Saying “no” was not yet part of my repertoire and everything was a priority. These were the days before children and my husband was working just as hard to start his business. The advantage of professional development in Abbotsford was that it was a small enough district that we all did pro-d together. Therefore, the things we learned and ideas we were thinking about, were discussed in the staffroom, as staff socials and the ideas frequently referenced. I think in this way, many of the ideas were incorporated into who I was.
I recently finished reading Stephen Covey’s (2008) The Leader in Me: How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time. In this book, the learning is focused on children in K-5, middle and secondary schools, in the United States (the main focus), Singapore, Canada and Japan. The power is that it that the ideas are introduced and developed with entire school populations. Students are taught public speaking and acknowledged for their strengths and encouraged to assume responsibility for leadership tasks within the school.
I remember shortly after my Covey training, I was asked to do the goodbye tribute to my mentor, Joan Fuller, at her retirement function. Public speaking had never been in my comfort zone. Memories of tomato seeds bouncing out of my hand during my 9th grade oral report haunted me. Boring topic. Questionable choice to be holding the smallest of all seeds for an oral report in front of the class. Terrifying teacher who was known to roll her eyes. Nothing good came out of it and I carried a lingering fear of public speaking. However, I loved Joan and had a vested interest in making her retirement special. I was terrified. I was over prepared and tripped over my words. I was glued to my cue cards. My vocal chords constricted. My legs shook. I blushed. And yet, I lived through it. Everyone clapped and smiled. Joan was delighted and cried. And there were no tomato seeds. I drank the Kool-Aid and was excessively proactive and had a passion for professional development. I found myself more and more speaking in front of audiences, in both my professional life and involvement in personal passions. Yes, I was one of the lives that was changed because I had come to understand I had something worthwhile to say.
Covey is frequently referenced but I wonder how many people really understand the ideas and have integrated them into their lives and then regularly revisited. There is a tremendous amount to be learned that directly correlates with empowering, not only adults but children too.
For those of you who need a quick recap of the habits:
- Habit 1: Be Proactive
- Take initiative
- Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
- Set goals
- Habit 3: Put First Things First
- Prioritize and only do the most important things
- Habit 4: Think Win-Win
- Getting what you want while considering others
- Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
- Habit 6: Synergize
- work well with others to accomplish a task
- Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
- Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep
- Habit 8 (added in 2004): Find Your Voice and Help Others Find Theirs –
- Identify gifts. Optimize them. Develop them.