Monday, July 23, 2012

7 Habits of Happy Kids: An Introduction

Good morning, friends! Happy Monday! Today I'm meeting with my third grade team to begin mapping out our year, so I wanted to make sure I woke up early enough to get this post written. I am so excited to share with you some of the wonderful things I learned at the Leader in Me training at my school last week. (For those of you who don't know what the Leader in Me is, it's basically teaching Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to children by having the school as a whole learn and practice the habits, but the habits are by no means just for school, they're for using in every aspect of your life). It was a very meaningful and emotional training, made all the more special because Muriel Summers was our leader. She's the woman behind this whole amazing idea:

"In the latter part of 1999, the 7 Habits made another significant entry into schools. During a presentation in Washington, D.C., I was approached by an elementary school principal named Muriel Summers. She wanted to know if I thought the 7 Habits could be taught to young children. I pointed her toward Sean’s book, but she came back with the reply that she was referring to very young children—as young as five years old. I responded, “I don’t know why not,” and then casually added that if she ever tried to do it to let me know how it went." - Stephen Covey (written in the forward of his book, The Leader In Me)
Muriel Summers and me! :)
I say it was emotional, too, because not only were we, the teachers, taking time to examine ourselves and think deeply about the things we value, but as I'm sure most of you know by now, last Sunday, Stephen Covey passed away. Our training began on Tuesday. As we began investigating the habits, we watched videos and heard stories from Muriel about Stephen, and she made it very clear to us that even though his life may have ended, we are part of the reason he will never die - his legacy will live on through us as we work together to teach kids about his and Muriel's powerful vision for them.   

Now, I don't want to get ahead of myself, so next I want to share with you the 7 Habits. Many of you may already know them, but below I have copied the habits (from here) with the kid-friendly definitions that go with them:

Habit 1: Be Proactive (You're in Charge)

I am a responsible person. I take initiative. I choose my actions, attitudes, and moods. I do not blame others for my wrong actions. I do the right thing without being asked, even when no one is looking.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind (Have a Plan)
I plan ahead and set goals. I do things that have meaning and make a difference. I am an important part of my classroom and contribute to my school’s mission and vision. I look for ways to be a good citizen.

Habit 3: Put First Things First (Work First, Then Play)
I spend my time on things that are most important. This means I say no to things I know I should not do. I set priorities, make a schedule, and follow my plan. I am disciplined and organized.

Habit 4: Think Win- Win (Everyone Can Win)
I balance courage for getting what I want with consideration for what others want. I make deposits in others’ Emotional Bank Accounts. When conflicts arise, I look for third alternatives.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood (Listen Before You Talk)
I listen to other people’s ideas and feelings. I try to see things from their viewpoints. I listen to others without interrupting. I am confident in voicing my ideas. I look people in the eyes when talking.

Habit 6: Synergize (Together Is Better)
I value other people’s strengths and learn from them. I get along well with others, even people who are different than me. I work well in groups. I seek out other people’s ideas to solve problems because I know that by teaming with others we can create better solutions than anyone of us can alone. I am humble.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw (Balance Feels Best)
I take care of my body by eating right, exercising and getting sleep. I spend time with family and friends. I learn in lots of ways and lots of places, not just at school. I find meaningful ways to help others.


At the end of last year, when our school had just decided to go for it and implement the habits on our campus, I decided to read one story a week from the book, 7 Habits of Happy Kids. These stories are written specifically for kids, and my third graders couldn't wait to hear a new story each week. We rounded out our school year together by practicing these habits and using the language - I would overhear my students said things like, "I noticed ______ began with the end in mind because her homework is already turned in and it's not even Friday!" or "I can see that ______ is upset because she is crying - I think you should seek first to understand and just leave her alone because she is sad and doesn't want to talk to you right now."

I was so impressed and proud of my kids - they immediately began taking ownership of themselves and their choices and actions (Habit #1), and it made my teaching so much easier! Because my students all had the same language to use when communicating with each other, not only were there fewer problems, but they resolved many of their issues themselves - it made my teaching so much easier and stress-free!

So, if you're interested in learning more about the habits and seeing if they'd be a good fit for you and your students, I highly recommend you start with reading the children's book. I promise that book will be more helpful for you than getting the adult version - even Muriel suggested we read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens if we wanted to go a bit deeper, because it's basically a Cliff's Notes version of the adult book.

I've got to head out to meet my team, but I'll be back later this week to go a bit deeper into the habits and what I personally experienced during our training. I also think I've finally decided on what to do for my giveaway, and I'll give you a hint: it starts with an Erin and ends in a Condren.


3 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing! My school is doing the book study right now, but I would love to implement some of the ideas in my own room this year. Can't wait to hear how it goes in your classroom! =)

    Ms. Smith
    Adventures of Ms. Smith

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just came across your adorable blog. I've been hearing so much about the 7 Habits, that I think I'm going to go get the book! I'm your newest follower! And, the tease about the giveaway..... ;) Fun!

    Grade Three is the Place for Me!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I read the book and am going to do my best to implement the 7 Habits in my classroom this year. After looking over my last two classes I see that this is exactly what my students needed. Let's see how it goes. Thanks for the great blog post.

    ReplyDelete

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing! My school is doing the book study right now, but I would love to implement some of the ideas in my own room this year. Can't wait to hear how it goes in your classroom! =)

    Ms. Smith
    Adventures of Ms. Smith

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just came across your adorable blog. I've been hearing so much about the 7 Habits, that I think I'm going to go get the book! I'm your newest follower! And, the tease about the giveaway..... ;) Fun!

    Grade Three is the Place for Me!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I read the book and am going to do my best to implement the 7 Habits in my classroom this year. After looking over my last two classes I see that this is exactly what my students needed. Let's see how it goes. Thanks for the great blog post.

    ReplyDelete