I first encountered Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits series when I was in elementary school. I was part of a group of students who took part in a program called kids.now and one of the books we read together was Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. The book has made reappearances in my life on numerous occasions since, and the idea of “effective people” is something that I’ve continued to ponder. (Slightly lengthy side note: It was really interesting reading more about the kids.now program as I was writing this post. I was a moderately wayward child in my middle school years, but had never really thought of myself as a vulnerable youth. Looking back, though, I am immensely thankful for this program and others like it that I’ve been able to be a part of. These opportunities have definitely given me the skills and confidence to be able to take action and make positive choices.)
This led me to wonder: what would I consider the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers? I turned a few things over in my head and compiled a list. I did do a quick Google search prior to sitting down and drafting this post, and realized that countless other people have also wondered this same thing and made their own lists. Alas, these are the 7 that ring true for me.
- Be a learner
I firmly believe that teachers cannot be effective at what they do if they are not also learners. Through learning, we make sense of the world and our place in it; we change our beliefs and our values and gain new perspectives. Learning encompasses many things, including developing new skills, taking risks, and growing your understanding. We improve our practice through learning.
- Know your students
Relationships are the foundation for learning. It is hard to learn from someone who you don’t respect, and It is equally hard to teach someone who you know nothing about. Knowing our students make it so that we can meet them where they are and support them the way they need to be supported. Plus it shows them that you care.
- Set goals
Most people have a love/hate relationship with goal setting. But let’s be honest, you need to have an idea of where you want to be or what you want to do in the near and farther future. You may deviate from the course, but having targets helps get you moving.
- Seek out feedback
Ah, feedback. What I’m talking about here is sincere, specific feedback. Good or bad. Or neutral. As teachers, we do need to take time to reflect, but we also need to ask a variety of others for their perspective. It helps us see our blind spots.
- Have interests outside of work
I’m fairly certain I’ve mentioned this before somewhere on the interweb, but the most interesting teachers are the ones who are multi-dimensional. The ones who can talk to you about more than just teaching. The ones who can make other connections to the real world. We need to have lives outside of teaching.
- Slow down
When I first drafted this list, number 6 was actually “Try new things”. Ironically, this is almost the opposite of that. We tend to rush a lot in teaching. We constantly hear things like “covering the curriculum” and “I don’t have time to do this”. But seriously, going at the speed of light is painful for you and for your students. (Note to self: take this advice)
- Build a team
We absolutely cannot do it alone in this profession. Other educators, parents, community partners, people outside the profession – the more varied your connections are, the more diversity you have to draw on. Having a network to support and also challenge you will make you a better teacher, and that, in turn, will be better for your students.
I’d love to hear what you think the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers are!