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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How School Counselors Use the Leader in Me and the 7 Habits: Introduction Post

Over the next three weeks, I will be dedicating some of my posts to how school counselors use the Leader in Me and 7 habits. In 2012, I interned as an undergrad at a wonderful elementary school with a school counselor. I loved the school and I loved school counseling. I was lucky enough to be hired at this school as a Teacher Assistant part-time while I got my master's degree in school counseling from Lehigh from 2013 to 2016. Between the time I interned in 2012 and when I got hired as a TA six months later, they started a program called Leader in Me. I missed the trainings, so I didn't totally understand the program. I picked up some information from the students and teachers and knew enough to talk about the 7 habits in conversations with students.

While I was interning at another elementary school in the district, I was lucky enough to be part of the Leader in Me trainings during in-services so I could understand the program a little bit more. Leader in me is a school-wide initiative to spark the leadership qualities in all of the students in our schools by teaching the "7 habits." The 7 habits include: 1- Be Proactive, 2- Begin with the End in Mind, 3- Put First Things First, 4- Think Win-Win, 5- Seek First to Understand Then to be Understood, 6- Synergize, and 7- Sharpen the Saw. You may remember these habits from some of my other blog posts.

Students learn songs to remember the habits (even the kindergartners, so don't think they're too young to understand). There are hand signs for each of the habits (which I still cannot remember). A short summary of each habit follows. Habit 1- Be Proactive means that you are in charge of yourself. Habit 2- Begin with the End in Mind is about setting goals to achieve the outcome you desire. Habit 3- Put First Things First is about prioritizing tasks. Habit 4- Think Win-Win is finding a way for everyone to be happy. Habit 5- Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood is to listen to others before you talk. Habit 6- Synergize is about working together as a team. Habit 7- Sharpen the Saw is about self-care and balance. Really look at these habits and think about your role as a school counselor and what you teach your students. The connections are endless.

Leader in Me (LIM) transforms school culture, making school a positive, fun, and safe place. Students take ownership of their learning, even having student-led conferences with their parents. They participate in Leadership Day, selecting a topic to present on as a group. Leadership Day is attended by parents, community members, etc. Each classroom has a student greeter to welcome visitors to their classroom. There is a staff Lighthouse Team that is charged with overseeing the school's LIM program and events. The staff Lighthouse Team tours other LIM schools and works with the student Lighthouse Team. Students apply for leadership roles in the school like tour guides, morning announcements, dismissal, assemblies,  etc. When a student is caught following one of the habits, their name can be submitted and announced as a shout-out on the morning announcements. Schools can achieve Lighthouse Status by following LIM with fidelity. Spring Garden did this in December 2016 and is the only school in Pennsylvania to have done it so far.

I was always using the 7 habits in discussions with students. If they were having a disagreement with a friend, I'd remind them to Seek First to Understand (Habit 5). If they were fighting over recess equipment, I reminded them to Think Win-Win (Habit 4) and Synergize (Habit 6). I used these habits personally on a daily basis, but also in my work with students. However, I didn't realize how much I loved LIM until I worked at a school last year that didn't have it. I couldn't use the habits in conversations with students because they weren't taught about them. Now I appreciate all the connections LIM has to school counseling and I will be sharing it with you in the next few weeks.

Looking for LIM-spiration? Check out these resources:
Leader in Me Website
The Leader in Me: How Schools Around the World are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time by Stephen Covey
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey
The Seven Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey
Seven Habits Book Bundle by Sean Covey (a book for each habit)

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