When Our Practices Become Habits
During these hot summer days, I've been indulging in a little more reading than I ordinarily have time for during the school year. Recently, I've been reading a book about the power of habits, and the notion that organizations—like individuals—have habits has me thinking about my own professional learning.
It's when we stop reflecting on our professional practices that they become habits. Can you pinpoint any of your own practices that have turned into habits? How about the practices of your school or your district? In the work of the National Center for Literacy Education we have been collecting evidence around the conditions and structures that support the teaching and learning of both adults and students. As I look over this framework, I can't help but think about the good and bad habits of systems that have become so routine that we don't bother to question them any more.
Every summer serves as a renewal for me. Once I’ve had time to unwind, I can give myself the space to reflect on what worked well and what challenges lie ahead. In spending a few minutes on this site, I've found myself inspired and intrigued by the following stories and the questions they seem to embody:
What happens when we don’t let roles limit and define our practice?
- The inclusive nature of adult learning is illustrated in this story of a community of practice comprised of educators, board members, and parents who participated in a community mapping exercise.
- A group of Connecticut school superintendents formed a community of practice and began using instructional observation as a means to identify areas of concern and support continuous improvement.
What unexpected opportunities arise when we make our practices public?
- First-grade teacher Jodi Manby describes the experience of having observers in her classroom, and observers share their own views, in these short video clips.
- The peer observation practices of a group of New Jersey superintendents influenced the professional learning experiences of staff in their home districts.
When is it time to rethink our habits?
- In this audio clip Sarah Brown Wessling talks about “going forward to my classroom” after spending a year traveling as teacher of the year. She acknowledges the need to rethink her habits as well as the opportunities that will arise as she and others work to make sense of the Common Core Standards.
It won't be long before we see the first back-to-school sales advertisements. That will be our signal to decide: What good habits will we set out to establish? What can we do to disrupt the bad habits?