Blow Up Your Habits

(Honored to co-write this blog with Associate Principal of Teaching and Learning Robyn Jordan)

This year, I’ve made it my priority to break out the tennis racquet to get back in shape.  I played all year round growing up and coached it when I was a teacher.  Of my fondest memories on the tennis court, it was definitely coaching the high school student athletes more than even playing the game myself!

Of the two, my favorite was playing doubles.  I liked the quick pace and energy coming from and with a partner!  A definite hint to be a  great doubles player is constantly talking to your partner.  No matter what, the goal should be to constantly talk about what each player sees and who is going to hit the ball –

  • “Push up!”
    • “Short!”
      • “Right!”
        • “Mine!”

There’s nothing worse than both players missing the ball when it goes right down the center – talk about lack of communication!

The repetition of calling out what you are going to do and what you see is a habit that helps to not only work with your partner but helps to improve muscle memory, anticipation, and reaction.

James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits, talks about Japanese rail workers who not only communicate what they see and what they are about to do, but also point at the objects.  They have found this technique, when used, to lower the accidents, and even other systems around the world have adopted similar methods and seen significant results.

James Clear encourages readers to list all the habits they are doing and then classify them as either, positive (+), negative (-), or neutral (=).  Clear states that the notion of good and habits are subjective to the individual and circumstances.  Also, he recommends the need to think more of habits having a level of effectiveness over positive or negative.  He also defines positive habits to be ones that make you a better person and reflect the kind of person you want to be.

Jordan Harbinger created a few worksheets based on Clear’s book to reinforce concepts: The Jordan Harbinger Show: Worksheet for James Clear.

What are habits that you need to call out to yourself for reflection?  What are ones that you need to keep doing?  What are some you might need to stop doing or address?  The first step to change is recognition.

Based on Clear’s work, Robyn Jordan shared her work with me regarding the development of scorecards to help her school’s educators walk through the steps in identifying their habits, classifying them, and then creating an action plan to leverage success.  Jordan shared a Professional Growth Journal with the school’s new hires and beginning teachers in a professional learning community.  Jordan used Clear’s Habit Scorecard and the “Habit Stacking” method to help teachers to evaluate their current daily habits and then envision their desired behaviors to intentionally turn into habits to improve themselves professionally. Teachers shared their Habits Scorecards and discussed areas of growth with their colleagues in the professional learning community. This created a safe space of intersubjectivity where teachers were able to be vulnerable and reflective about their own daily habits and then share with their colleagues.

As we transition to the end of the school year, it’s important to take time to reflect on the Remote Learning habits we created.  Some habits might need to be eliminated in the future.  Some might be a good idea to continue.  Access the Remote Learning Reflection Guide and complete it by yourself or with your school team to provide insights on ways to leverage the habits for success!

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