Steven Covey: The Leader in Me

Sometimes I think I must be a little bit crazy, and I guess I am. Every time I think I’m going to take a break from reading educational texts somehow I get drawn to another one. Well, today is was Steven Covey’s The Leader in Me: How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time. What a great title! How could I refuse!

Tonight, I read the first couple of chapters, honestly, it is difficult to know what to focus on as a reflection. Everything I read just popped! I thought, “yes, I agree with that…oh, I like that…wow, I really love that” and so it continued throughout my reading.

Covey offers the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, but relates it to the field of education. He was inspired to write the book based on one school principal in particular who decided to use the habits as the basis of her magnet school theme. All magnet schools must have a “theme” that makes them unique. After attending a seminar by Covey, Muriel Summers, the principal of A.B. Combs Magnet School in a small town in North Carolina, decided to change the theme under the supervision of the superintendent to “leadership”. Their mission continues to be “to develop leaders one child at a time.”

Soon the school had a new mission statement: To Develop Leaders One Child at a Time. They wanted the clear message sent to each child that his or her worth exceeds anything that is ever placed on any grade report or any score on a test. They wanted to ensure that no student of theirs would ever feel hopeless or desperate to consider being a part of any action so tragic as those at Columbine. And those are the reasons, the purposes, and the account behind how and why “leadership” was chosen as the school’s new magnet theme and how the early seeds of success took root at A.B. Combs. Leadership was the umbrella term they would encompass the many character traits and basic life competencies that parents. business leaders, educators, and even students were all voicing in common.” ~ Covey

Covey goes on by stating that although it is great to think about the future. How does these leadership attitudes apply to right now–today?

“I can say with confidence that most executives are more concerned about today’s bottom line than they are about tomorrow’s workforce. Surely most young people are far more interested in “What’s for lunch today? or “Who will I hang out with after school today?” than they are about what company will hire them out of college. That is exactly why I believe that parents, teachers, business leaders, and even students are enthused about what is happening at A.B. Combs and these other schools. Not only are they teaching skills that will impact students’ futures, but they are teaching skills and principles that are making an immediate impact, today. Students are making better choices, today. And, that, in my opinion, is what stakeholders want most from a school, and why so many people feel this is the right thing to be doing.” ~ Covey

I have read and listened to Covey’s work many times, for my own personal growth or my families growth, but I never thought about it in context of the classroom. I do believe that I have illustrated some of these character traits with my students.  However,  I love the idea of making an intentional effort to foster leadership in my students by developing and delivering instruction that connects and builds strong foundations of personal growth that results in strong academic achievement.

If these habits were valued, modeled, and implemented by teachers, I believe that there would be very few discipline problems in the classroom. The vision is so intentional, so acute. I cannot wait to read the case studies further tomorrow.

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