Sunday, December 14, 2014

Habit 3: Put First Things First ~ A complicated favorite Habit

"Habit 1 says, “You’re in charge. You’re the creator.” Being proactive is about choice. Habit 2 is the first, or mental, creation. Beginning with the End in Mind is about vision. Habit 3 is the second creation, the physical creation. This habit is where Habits 1 and 2 come together. It happens day in and day out, moment-by-moment. It deals with many of the questions addressed in the field of time management. But that’s not all it’s about. Habit 3 is about life management as well–your purpose, values, roles, and priorities. What are “first things?” First things are those things you, personally, find of most worth. If you put first things first, you are organizing and managing time and events according to the personal priorities you established in Habit 2.” ~Dr. Stephen R. Covey

Our students really like Habit 3. They find they can Put First Things First one time and reap results, then think they've got it down. Making it a habit takes true understanding of the priorities we set for ourselves, then making the choice to have the discipline to work on the "big rocks." We can help our students by giving them easy chances to try putting first things first, and showing them how the success of completing tasks breeds more success.

Simon Sinek talks about the chemistry of social animals in his book, Leaders Eat Last. When we check off those items on our "to do" lists, our bodies release dopamine into our systems. The dopamine causes us to feel good. Have you ever added something to your "to do" list that wasn't there, just because you had completed it and could cross it off? I have. It releases dopamine, and the kick we get from the drug is addictive. I think that's why our students enjoy Habit 3 so much. The balance they need to feel occurs when they begin incorporating the first two Habits, along with the work they can do with the other Habits working with others. Sinek's research shows that when people reach the balance created by being whole in this way, serotonin and oxytocin are released. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate emotions. Oxytocin is a hormone that works as a neuromodulator in the brain. It extends our ability to care about others, to reduce anxiety among other things.

Our job is to help students learn the Habits, to begin to live the Habits so they can make sound decisions about their lives at school and everywhere.

Habit 3 is a favorite for students because it gives immediate results. Lets get them focusing on the feelings that make this Habit and the other six permanent.


  • Our Superintendent, Dr. Randy Liepa, has been chosen as Superintendent of the Year for the trip-county area. His acceptance of the award will be Monday night at the Board meeting at 7:00. You are welcome to join me in recognizing him at this meeting. The award will be presented first thing in the meeting followed by a break, so we can leave right after. 
  • We are still having difficulty at the end of the day with students rushing to get to buses, and with teachers not turning their bus cards. It is imperative that teachers walk their students all the way to the exit to the parking lot where the buses are waiting. We have put this in the update before. It's not enough to leave them at the gym doors. Please make sure the students exit the building safely, reminding them to walk carefully to their buses.
  • Our staff breakfast is this Thursday in the lounge. Thanks to the Enthusiasm Team for providing this event. We will have a fun morning!

Our Schedule This Week:

Monday...             7:30 am Breakfast with Randy (Terry)
                             1:30 Data Dig Meeting at Webster (Terry)
                             7:00 pm Board Meeting (Terry)

Tuesday...             8:45 LEAD time
                             3:45 Lighthouse Team

Wednesday...        Variety Show assemblies and night show
                             8:00 IST meeting

Thursday...            7:45-8:30 Staff Breakfast in the lounge

Friday...                Peace

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Habit 2: The Habit of Imagination and Mission

"So, what do you want to be when you grow up? That question may appear a little trite, but think about it for a moment. Are you--right now--who you want to be, what you dreamed you'd be, doing what you always wanted to do? Be honest. Sometimes people find themselves achieving victories that are empty--successes that have come at the expense of things that were far more valuable to them. If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster. 

Habit 2 is based on imagination--the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint. If you don't make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default. It's about connecting again with your own uniqueness and then defining the personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfill yourself. Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen." ~Dr. Stephen R. Covey

In my opinion, Habit 2 is the toughest Habit. I find myself constantly assessing and reassessing my mission, seeking the truth about me. I find I don't always trust my imagination, my ability to ferret out what I want to be when I grow up. Viktor Frankl said we "detect rather than invent" our mission. I am finally discovering that Frankl was correct that purpose is the most important thing, that it's the "one thing" we need to find. We certainly can have more than one purpose in life, but most people go through life without being intentional in that discovery. Spending the time to consider our purpose, our true mission, using our knowledge that we our the product of our choices, not our circumstances.

And as I consider all we have accomplished at Cooper over the past nine years, I am compelled to listen to the words of Frankl:

Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it."

Making success our mission will never work, although we experience incredible success everyday. Our dedication at Cooper is to help students find their leadership lives, both for the community and for themselves. That's not aiming for success in test scores. Our mission is to help students find what they need to help themselves, no matter their life's struggles. 

Those of us who came from abusive families, from poverty and cruelty, had to learn that the world was not to blame. We had to learn to make the choices that were available and live the lives we wanted. Our students need our help in that realization. We see the results when our students realize their potential and find their voices. We're seeing the beginnings for some in their Youth Making a Difference projects. Our students are starting to step up and live their missions. They are indeed "Learning and Leading."

“Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.” ~ Viktor E. FranklMan's Search for Meaning


  • Bill, Lauren, and Sue G. have been working tirelessly getting our Variety Show students ready for the show next week. Thank you to them and all the participants! It should be another outstanding Variety Show!
  • Iowa/CoGAT testing begins January 5 for sixth grade. The tests are ready, answer sheets sorted, and we will be ready. Sixth grade teachers have a lot of leeway in scheduling the tests. A note will be going home to sixth grade families this week about the test and how it is used. It will be helpful to let families know your intention for scheduling testing in your classrooms.
  • A big thanks to Angie for pinch hitting for Sarah while she's making baby Cal's first weeks the best they can be. We've had a tough couple of weeks in the office, and I can't imagine how it would have been without her help!
  • The new rugs were to be placed in rooms this weekend. All of the rugs are being used in classrooms. If you need help with yours, please let me know.
  • Our coach from FranklinCovey will be here Monday. Lynn Kozinski will be helping determined our readiness for Lighthouse Milestone. Thanks to everyone for their work last week as we continue to assess our readiness. Lynn will help us decide what steps we still need to take to prepare for the evaluation team in the spring.
  • Our 8:00 staff meeting Thursday will include visits by Harry Lau, LPS Operations supervisor, who will talk to us about the heating system. Gary Harris, from SoundEngineering, will also be at our meeting and will explain our sound systems and answer any of your questions.

This week's schedule includes:

Monday...         9:00 Lynn Kosinski visits (see above)
                       1:30 Data Dig Mtg (Terry), Cleveland

Tuesday...         8:00 Center EPT         
                       3:45 Lighthouse Team
                       6:00 Parent Lighthouse Team
                       6:30 Leader In Me Parent Informational Meeting

Wednesday...    3:45 Planning Team

Thursday...       8:00 Staff Meeting (see above)

Friday...            8:00 Title I Meeting (Cleveland)

As always, please send your additions/corrections! Have a great week!!