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Posts Tagged ‘#7Habits’

There are so many things that come at us these days that it can be easy to get caught up in the unimportant things that can distract us.  Implementing the big ideas from Habit 3 Put First Things First – Work First, Then Play can really help us to stay focused and productive. There are four key elements to this habit:

  1. Focus on the highest priorities – We want to focus in on Quadrant 2 where our priorities lie that allow us to focus on items that are important but not urgent. Our highest priorities become our “Big Rocks.”
  2. Eliminate the unimportant – As best as we can, we need to try to stay out of the not important items that are a distraction and can waste our time.
  3. Plan every week – To help focus on the priorities, we need to schedule in the Big Rocks first.  Ask yourself, “What are the one or two most important things I can do this week?”  The next step is to schedule other things around your Big Rocks. For me, I like to do this every day and make a list of the 3 Big Rocks I am choosing to focus on the next day. This video is a good illustration of how we can get make things fit if we schedule our Big Rocks first.
  4. Stay true in the moment of choice – This sounds easy to do, but is actually harder to do we are in the moment being bombarded with things. I know for myself that I can get bogged down in Q3 but having my list of Big Rocks helps me to focus back into Q1.

For the month of December, we have two Big Rocks that we are prioritizing: Wellness and Faith. Both of these are our Wildly Important Goals that are in our Continuous Improvement Plan that you can find on our website under Resources & Publications – Reports and Plans. We decided to focus on our Faith for December as we are in the season of Advent.  Our Wellness Action Team felt that the past year has been difficult and wanted to prioritize fun before the Christmas break.

In looking at fun, we decided it was important for that to apply for our whole school community: students, parents and staff. The whole month is a points blitz for team points.  Students can earn points every day they wear something Christmassy.  The more items they wear, the more points they can earn for their team.  I know I am looking forward to wearing my Christmas sweaters, shirts and my beautiful Saskatchewan Roughrider Christmas hat.  On the 10th, we have our first assembly of the year where we will get to view the talent show winners. Thanks to School Council for organizing the talent show and 5/6 BW Cohort for organizing the assembly.  Wednesday the 15th is our wonderful Christmas Dinner provided by School Council. During that week Blaze will again make an appearance at the school to deliver the class gifts that our School Council has purchased for us.  This year we chose the gift of literacy and all classes will be receiving books for their classrooms. On Thursday we are excited to have Steve Harmer present 7-30 minute magic shows to our cohorts. Steve will include the values of Love, Joy, Peace, and Hope in his Christmas show. Our final fun activity takes place on the 17th where we will once again do a whole school bingo activity.  Students who get a bingo will run down to the office to verify their bingo and to claim a prize. We know that a piece of wellness for parents is seeing their children perform. As it has been a while since we have had a concert at the school, each cohort will be posting some whole class performances for parents on Spaces or Class Dojo. The staff has been working on a performance for our school community so stay tuned to our Facebook page for our gift of joy to you. We also have some special board office guests who were unlucky enough to visit our school and were kind enough to take part in our performance.

Advent is just a natural priority for us as it is the start of the new liturgical year in the Church. We will start off the season with mass at the school organized by 5/6 HV on Thursday at 9:00. All parents are welcome to join in our Zoom Link by clicking here or by going to the google calendar on our website. The rest of our Advent celebrations will be on Mondays: 6th at 9:00 and 13th at 1:30. Our big Advent project is Coffee for a Cause.  We are selling Cuppers coffee, our STC Advent Blend, for our adopted sister school in Tanzania: Mkono Wa Mara Primary.  For every $20 bag of coffee(ground or whole) purchased, we receive $5. Coffee for a Cause orders are due by noon on Friday the 10th and you can purchase coffee on School Cash Online. Orders will be picked up at the school from 12:00 on the 16th to 12:45 on the 17th. We have committed the next three years to raise funds to help them with their needs for water storage tanks, kitchen improvement and kitchen equipment.

To learn more about the school and its needs, please watch this short video. Thank you to everyone for helping support our sister school and spreading some hope, love, joy and peace.

During this season of Advent, apply the big ideas of Habit 3. It can be easy to get lost in the commercialization of the season, the decorating and buying of presents when our priority is to focus on preparing our hearts for the coming of Jesus. That is the Big Rock that we need to schedule all our other activities around.

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.

St. Teresa of Calcutta

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The month of November is when plans are due in education which fits in with Habit 2 Begin with the End in Mind – Have a Plan. In the Alberta Education Ministry Business Plan for Education for 2021 – 2024, the Minister articulates goals for the province and then our Holy Spirit Board sets Strategic Priorities that align with the Business Plan. One of the key elements of this habit is to define outcomes before you act.  All things are created twice:  first mentally and then physically.  By defining outcomes before we act, we ensure our efforts are truly effective. We have been working on mentally and physically creating plans for the school year with staff during our learning team time and at our Professional Development Day on October 12th. We have been using The 4 Disciplines of Execution for Educators to guide us in achieving our Wildly Important Goals.  The following areas are the four pillars of our school’s improvement plan:

  1. Faith: Staff & students will grow in their faith and experience the richness of Catholic Education
    • Our focus is on spiritually growth for our school community through prayer leadership.  Through leading prayer or rosary; participating in liturgy ministry; creating prayers for announcements. Chalice or Legacy Lodge; and creating prayer cards, we are aiming to hit 2000 leadership activities for the entire school by the end of the year. 
  2. Learning: High quality instruction rooted in sound research & effective assessment practices to support growth for all learners
    • In this area we are focusing on finding and filling any gaps in numeracy and literacy skills.  For numeracy we have determined that basic number sense will be our focus.  Number sense is understanding the value of a number and how they relate to each other. We are going to look at how student progress in number sense and devise common interventions for those concepts.
    • With literacy we are going to be looking at the key skills needed for reading and how the progression that students make. We will be using Words Their Way to assess and then individualize instruction and interventions.
  3. First Nations, Metis & Inuit: First Nations, Metis and Inuit education for all
    • Our focus here is to ensure that staff and students learn about and understand five aspects of indigenous culture, history and/or traditions.  We started the year with the Legacy of Hope display to allow a better understanding of residential schools.  Working with our First Nations, Metis and Inuit support worker, our teachers will be able to better understand and infuse content into their lessons.
  4. Wellness: Foster a culture of wellness that is foundational to support learning
    • Our goal for this area is to have our students develop the skills to independently solve their problems.  Our grades 1-6 students have all been taught about Kelso’s Choices and are using this process to solve their small problems.  We will continue to develop skills and track the progress of the different choices being used by students. 

We have school goals and classes will make their own goals that we will track and celebrate throughout the year.  The next step is for our students to set their own Wildly Important Goals (WIG).  For this we will be using the SPACES portfolio platform.  Later on in the newsletter you will see our graphic for the implementation plan.  Look for your email invite to come out the week of the 15th. We will have a parent information night on the 18th and will have our goal-setting evenings on the 23 and 25 of November. Teachers will be working with students during the month to create their goals both mentally and physically.  We look forward to celebrating our goal and the learning we make throughout the year. 

God doesn’t require us to succeed. he only requires that you try.

St. Teresa of Calcutta

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Every month we highlight a habit and during October we are focusing on Habit 1 Be Proactive: You are in Charge. This habit teaches about personal responsibility: I am in charge of me; I am responsible for my choices and behaviours; I can choose how I react to other people or situations. The common themes that we reinforce are as follows:

  1. Pause
  2. Proactive
  3. Circle of Control

Pause helps us to make Proactive choices. Before responding to a situation, take a moment to pause and think about your response. We have the freedom to choose our response.  Kelso’s choices are giving students proactive options as to how to respond to others.  Being proactive is about the language we use and the choices we make.  Proactive language helps us take responsibility while reactive language can be about blame.  In making our choices we also use the analogy of water vs soda.  If you shake up a bottle of water and a bottle of soda and then open the lid, you will get two different reactions.  The soda spraying all over is an example of how we can explode and be reactive.  Without the pause, the soda does not get to settle and sprays all over everyone near you.  In life there are things we can control and things we cannot and being proactive means focusing on the things within our circle of control and taking action that will make a difference.  Our goal with this habit is to get our students to become a transition person:  a role model of proactive, helpful and effective behaviours. 

Communication is an area in which we can Be Proactive.  Knowing where to find information is within our circle of control.  The following are different ways to stay connected at St. Teresa of Calcutta School.

  1. School Messenger – The school and the division sends out communications via text, email or phone.  It can be done through your phone or via the School Messenger app. Each week we will be sending out texts to remind you about upcoming events.  Currently we have 37% of parents signed up to receive texts. If you didn’t receive a text this week, you can sign up sending a text to 978338. Reply with a Y to opt in.
  1. STC Website – Our website links on it for all kinds of information you may need.  Explore it at https://stc.holyspirit.ab.ca
  2. Email – Want to connect to the front office?  Send us an email at stcoffice@ holyspirit.ab.ca. Want to connect with the staff?  You can find contact information on our website under the School/Contact Tab.
  3. Office Hours – If you want to know how your child is doing at school, you can connect with the teacher during office hours. Every second month, teachers are available to connect with parents.  Our first virtual round is set for Thursday October 21 from 4:30 – 6:00. Teachers will send out information and links to parents in advance so that parents can make appointments. If that time doesn’t fit your schedule then please contact the teacher for an alternate time.
  4. Newsletter – If you do not receive our monthly newsletter, you can find it on our website.  You can access it from the home page newsletter button.
  5. Calendar – Our Live Google Calendar of school events.  Sync this calendar with your own calendar. Upcoming Events scroll down the right side of the home page.
  6. Facebook – Like and follow us at STChs4
  7. Twitter – Follow us @STChs4
  8. Instagram – Follow us stchs4
  9. School Council – Meetings are the first or second Monday of the month at 6:00 pm. Minutes are under the School/School Council Tab
  10. Spaces – Coming Soon – Digital Portfolio to celebrate student learning and to communicate with home.  Students have been rostered into the program and teachers are still learning how to use Spaces.  We will be discussing our implementation plan at our October PD Day.  A parent information night and a date for going live with the program will be set soon. Spaces Website 

Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.

St. Teresa of Calcutta

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I did a google search on Mary to find out if she was called as a peacemaker. I found a Wikipedia page about the Titles of Mary that were more numerous that I realized. The titles differ from early titles to devotional titles to those associated with images or apparitions.  Yes, I did eventually find that in the Roman Catholic Church she has the title of Our Lady of Peace, Mother of Peace, Queen of Peace or Our Lady Queen of Peace. In this month of Mary, I wanted to talk to you about the Kelso’s Choice program we have introduced which believes that every child is capable of being a peacemaker.

Earlier in the year, we noticed that students were coming up to the adults on supervision to tell them about their problems and then the adult would solve the problem for the students.  Our school counsellor, Miss Ann Elise, suggested Kelso’s Choice conflict management skills program to us which has been effectively used at various schools for over 25 years. We wanted students to Be Proactive (Habit 1) and solve their own problems and conflict. The philosophy of the program fits well with the 7 Habits as it believes that each child is smart enough and strong enough to resolve conflict.

When students are faced with conflicts, the first step for them is to decide if it is a small or a big problem.  A big problem is one that they need adult help to solve and they can make students feel scared, worried or frightened. Examples of big problems are if someone is in danger, a student is hurt or some students are fighting. A small problem is one that students can solve on their own and they can make students feel annoyed, frustrated, embarrassed or have hurt feelings.  Small problems may be the following: not sharing a toy or equipment, pushing or cutting in line, saying you are not out when tagged or arguing about which game to play. In order to solve the problem, Kelso has a Choice Wheel where students can try out a couple of choices to solve their conflict.  If, after trying a couple of choices, the problem isn’t solved then the students can talk to an adult to help them solve it.

The choices on the wheel give both verbal and non verbal options and fit in with what we teach the students with the 7 Habits. The following are the choice the students can make to solve small problems.

Habit 1 Be Proactive: You’re in Charge

These choices remind students that they are free to choose their reactions and are responsible for themselves.  We are asking students to choose to react like water not soda.  If you shake up a water bottle then open it, nothing happens but if you do the same thing to soda, it will explode all over when the cap comes off.  These choices help students act proactively like water.

  1. Tell Them to Stop
  2. Walk Away
  3. Ignore It
  4. Go to Another Game
  5. Wait and Cool Off

Habit 4 Think Win-Win: Everyone Can Win

These choices explore the ideas of fairness and mutual benefit.  We are asking students to consider other people’s wins as well as their own. In using these choices, the students are trying to come up with solutions that benefit others as well as themselves.  They are practicing and learning how to Lead with Love.

  1. Make a Deal
  2. Apologize
  3. Talk It Out
  4. Share and Take Turns

Currently only the Grades 1 and 2 students received the Kelso’s Choice lessons and have practicing the skills.  Next year we are planning on teaching the skills to more grades in the school as we have seen success.  Now, when students come up to us with concerns, the first thing we do is ask them if this is a big problem or a small problem.  We help guide them through the process as needed instead of solving their problems.  The website has a parent page with some information so that you can use the same language at home.  You too can help them to learn to peacemakers at home.

Kelso’s Choice Wheel

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Its hard to believe that it’s approaching the one-year mark since I came to St. Teresa of Calcutta School.  I have really enjoyed getting to know the staff and students and I am looking forward to the day when I can meet many of you in person.  I knew of the 7 Habits and had heard from my colleagues about the merits of them in schools, but I had never been in a Leader in Me School.  After my experience this past year, I now understand how effective the 7 Habits are not only in schools, but also in everyday use for everyone.

One of the priorities we have focused on this year is integration of the 7 Habits and our Catholic Faith.  During Advent and Lent we linked together the 7 Habits, the Catholic themes of those seasons, and our Faith Plan calls to action of Be Gracious and Be Grateful. We have also been looking at meshing together our faith with the 7 Habits.  We looked at how other Catholic schools did the same thing and liked the idea of finding Bible stories where the people demonstrated the different habits. God does work in mysterious ways because we received a copy of the book Do Something Beautiful for God: The Essential Teaching of Mother Teresa. The book provided us with statements made by St. Teresa for every day of the year and as we read through the book, we realized how much of her teachings we could relate to the meaning of the 7 Habits.  We then proceeded to read through and jot down different statements she made that we thought best represented each of the habits. The following is a draft of our ideas:

Habit 1:  Be Proactive – You’re in Charge

Bible Story: The Wedding at Cana

St. Teresa Teaching: Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.

Habit 2:  Begin with the End in Mind – Have a Plan

Bible Story: The Story of Noah’s Ark

St. Teresa Teaching: God doesn’t require us to succeed, He only requires that you try.

Habit 3:  Put First Things First – Work First, Then Play

Bible Story: The Story of Creation

St. Teresa Teaching: Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today. Let us begin.

Habit 4:  Think Win-Win – Everyone Can Win

Bible Story: The Story of the Good Samaritan

St. Teresa Teaching: Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.

Habit 5:  Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood – Listen Before You Talk

Bible Story: Finding Jesus in the Temple

St. Teresa Teaching: Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart.

Habit 6:  Synergize – Together is Better

Bible Story: Jesus Calls the First Disciples

St. Teresa Teaching: I can do things you cannot and you can do things I cannot.  Together we can do great things.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw – Balance Feels Best

Bible Story: The Resurrection of Jesus

St. Teresa Teaching: Life is an adventure, live it.  Life is a game, play it.

Habit 8: Find Your Voice and Inspire Others to Find Theirs

Bible Story: Moses Speaks to the Israelites

St. Teresa Teaching: I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.

May the blessing of Christ be with you during the Lenten and Easter Season. We ask that He watch over our school community during the upcoming holidays that we may safely return with a new spirit and energy.

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October Thoughts

It is a month into our new normal and as we are approaching Thanksgiving, I want to express my thanks to the entire school community for adapting to all the new procedures.  The staff has worked hard to come up with the general school procedures and to develop procedures for their own classes.  Our caretaking staff needs a huge pat on the back as they have worked tirelessly to create a cleaning and sanitizing schedule that ensures the classrooms are all sanitized during lunch recess.  There are days where they are running from one class to another and we should soon have an additional four-hour caretaker to help out during the day. With everyone Synergizing, together is truly better.

We are in our second year of our Faith Plan Making Our Mark – Journey of an Intentional Disciple and our theme for this coming year is Transformed by the Journey.  Our first call to action is to Be Gracious and when we are welcoming to others, we welcome Jesus into our midst and become Jesus for that person. It is fitting that with this theme that we are able to welcome students back to school.  In Matthew 18:20 Jesus said that where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them.  We will continue to gather and welcome Jesus into our midst, but our gatherings will look a little different this year.  As we did with opening mass, we had a class of students present while the others joined in virtually.  We are hoping to be able to have our school community join us virtually for future celebrations.

Our second call to action is to Be Grateful and we are focusing on an attitude of gratitude where we acknowledge God’s presence and give thanks. As we are heading into Thanksgiving, we will be focusing on giving thanks and expressing gratitude.   One of the things I am grateful for is that I am at a Leader in Me school.   The students are learning the language and meaning of the 7 Habits and I am learning alongside them. The more I learn, the more I realize the depths of the meaning of each habit.  There are many layers to each habit and, each year, students peel more layers to develop a deeper understanding and to learn more skills.  Below is a summary of each of the habits so that you can use the same language at home with them.

Habit 1: Be Proactive (You’re in Charge)

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind (Have a Plan)

Habit 3:  Put First Things First (Work First, then Play)

Habit 4:  Think Win-Win (Everyone Can Win)

Habit 5:  Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood (Listen Before You Talk)

Habit 6: Synergize (Together is Better)

Habit 7:  Sharpen the Saw (Balance feels Best)

St. Teresa of Calcutta spoke of gratitude and said that, “joy is prayer; joy is strength; joy is love.  God loves a cheerful giver.  The best way we can show our gratitude to God and the people is to accept everything with joy.” I pray that your October is filled with joy.

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