Falling off the Blog and the Power of Habit

girl off wagonSorry folks.  I fell off the blog for a time – two weeks to be exact.  At first, I didn’t even realize I hadn’t posted in the faculty bulletin and if Donna hadn’t reminded me (Thanks, Donna!), I honestly wouldn’t have noticed.  Friday 11/7 came and went right into another week, seemingly with no weekend in between (I know some of you understand what I mean).  And then, it happened again – I let the events of a week, both personal and professional, pull me from the routines I’d established (or thought I had established) as habits and I had completely fallen off the blog.

I realized as I adjust to changes around me – and you adjust to change around you – we can get caught up in dealing with those changes.  We’re all trying to adjust our routines to be more efficient and question our old habits and ways of doing things and not pay attention to the things that came as routine habits.  I can say I’m likely not the only one who feels novice at something I once felt an expert.  The knowledge is there, but the systems I’m using to carry it out haven’t been working as effectively as I want.  Time to reflect and recraft some habits for me.

I recenlty read portions of Charles Duhigg’s  The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business and was struck by some of his ideas:  “This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be…Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped…If you believe you can change – if you make it a habit – the change becomes real.”

Consider what this means for each of us personally and professionally – how the habits and routines in our classrooms influence students’ beliefs, habits, and routines.    Duhigg offers insight in shaping our habits as well as those of others:  “This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future: THE HABIT LOOP.” 

He describes willpower, the change agent for forming habits, as a muscle that has to be strenghtened in order to form a new habit or replace a bad habit.  In classrooms, I see teachers working with students to improve stamina and persistence in tasks – whether students know it or not.  Don’t make it a secret though, let students know they’re working on their stamina, their willpower to form new habits, to master new skills. 

In his book, Duhigg quotes William James: “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits – practical, emotional, and intellectual – systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be.”  Like I said, time to recraft some new habits for me.  I know I’m in control of those habits and despite the “noise” around me, I’m choosing to reshape my habits to focus on what is important, on desired outcomes.  If you have ideas to reshape school habits, consider cues and rewards, and let’s talk.

No time to read Duhigg’s book?  Check out his TedTalk here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMbsGBlpP30

Have a great weekend, Eagles!

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