Habits of a Highly Successful P-20 District

One of my favorite books is Stephen Covey’s, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I believe the principles outlined in this amazing book are applicable to just about every situation. As I recently reread some old notes I had on the book, it made me realize just how the 7 Habits can apply to our CEN school districts as we all move forward with this new and somewhat “radical” way of thinking about schools in our rural communities. I did not include every habit in the rationale below, but the ones I felt were the most high leverage for our unique situation in this journey.

Be Proactive
If there is one habit that is absolutely vital to the effective implementation of the P-20 model at our schools, it is to Be Proactive. Proactive means to have a can-do attitude and it requires all of the team to be on board and ready to work and promote the idea of how this new way of thinking can positively impact our kids and their futures. We have had to be proactive in thinking and working through unique problems and solutions. I am blessed to be on a great

administrative team that is willing to be proactive and “stay ahead of the curve” here in Sunray. As we all know, things will not always be easy, so how do we turn setbacks into opportunities and triumphs?

“Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man’s doing but my own. I am the force.” – Elaine Maxwell

Begin With the End in Mind
This habit is concerned with the destination of our school. What does our school look like at the end of each day? What do we want our school to look like in 1 year? What about in 5 years or 10 years? This habit keeps our team focused on our shared mission and values. This mission guides our progress as our school moves forward in becoming a place which truly prepares our students for college and the workforce. Our values must be clear in order for our destination to be clear. A couple of questions to consider:

In thinking about where you are as a district, what does your school look like in the “End”?
More importantly, what do you see student outcomes looking like in the end?
“Your most important work is always ahead of you, never behind you.” – Stephen Covey

Think Win-Win
Our P-20 districts are based on the mutual benefit of our school students working with colleges, universities, and businesses. These agreements we have created are meant to promote the success of our students through new systems and programs in order to help our rural communities thrive. Interdependence between these systems is a key for success in what we are all working to accomplish. There are three traits which are indicative of an organization that is interdependent and thinks win-win:

Organizational Integrity: hold tight to your feelings, values, and commitments.
Maturity: being able to express your ideas with courage and confidence, and ensuring that the ideas and opinions of others are valued.
Abundance Mentality: the idea that there is plenty for everyone involved.
How well does your organization hold to these three traits listed above? How does the idea of Think Win-Win relate to your current situation? We have all had different obstacles to overcome in our communities when it comes to some of the changes which are being implemented. Have we found ways to build partnerships which establish a Win-Win mentality with everyone involved?

“In the long run, if it isn’t a win for both of us, we both lose. That’s why win-win is the only real alternative in interdependent realities.” – Stephen Covey

Thanks for taking this short journey with me in looking at how a few of the 7 Habits can be applied to our schools and our daily work. It is my hope these words will at least help you reflect on some of the practices and habits you have established at your school or organization. Also, thanks to Dr. Covey for all of his work which still carries impact and influence.

Covey, S. R. (2004). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic ([Rev. ed.].). Free Press.

Covey, S. (2000). The 7 habits of highly effective teens. Salt Lake City, UT: Franklin Covey.

Collegiate Edu-Nation
Cody McDowell, CTE Director/Assistant Principal – Sunray Collegiate ISD