Shifting from Desires to Habits in Education

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Anonymous

This past year, when visiting a school, the leadership team was frustrated with the school culture. They wanted the staff in the building to have more gratitude toward each other. Through some guiding questions and honest discussions I helped them reflect on themselves as leaders to think about what they did for the staff to model their gratitude. They soon realized that they were not doing anything to help build a culture of gratitude, they just wanted it to happen.

Traveling across the country working in all levels from classrooms, to school to district level I often see this. We want (fill in the blank of desire) but we want it to magically happen. The below process has helped educators breakdown their desires and make it into actionable tasks.

For this school we backwards mapped what our desire was for the school; have a culture of gratitude. We then thought about the goal we needed in order to make the desire happen. Then we thought about what habit we needed to create in order to be successful with our goal.

DesireGoalHabit
Culture of Gratitude Write two notes of gratitudeWrite notes of gratitude per day when eating breakfast, put them in teachers boxes first thin when I arrive.

It is important to note, a habit is simply a regular tendency, behavior, or practice. Habits are the things we do so often they become second nature.  For a habit to take root it needs to be learned, practiced, and used regularly. For this Principal he chose to stack it with a habit he already had, eating breakfast daily.

Three weeks later I received my own note of gratitude from the Principal, “Over the past three weeks, I have written one to four notes each morning and have placed them in boxes when I arrive at school.  Usually, by lunch, I have received a thank you from the people I had given them to.  They are touched, feel cared for, and can not express enough how the words I shared positively affected them.  The whole building has transformed.”

This backward map process can be used to obtain any desire you want for your classroom, school and/or district. The most important piece is making sure you take the time to reflect on what your true desire, goal and habits are. Here are two more examples to see what it looks like at the district and classroom levels:

LevelDesireGoalHabit
DistrictIncreasing student achievement Use Instructional Framework as anchor in all PDAll professional developments will reference which instructional framework component the pd is connected to.
ClassroomSelf-Directed LearnersStudents reflect on their learningAt the end of the day, I will give five minutes for students to reflect on their learning for the day.

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