Covey’s Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind

In the late 1970’s, “Choose Your Own Adventure” books your own adventure stories were published by Bantam.Wikipedia: Choose Your Own Adventure

Targeting 10 to 14 year old children, 184 titles were published over an 18 year period. They spawned parallel series of publications, televisions shows and now gaming platforms.

Covey positions Habit 2 to generate the same type of response, “Create Your Own Life”.

Habit 2 is based on imagination–the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint. If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default. Covey’s Habit 2

Buildings or machines are completed and function according to a design, but people connect with personal, moral and ethical guidelines to craft a personal trajectory. Like the Choose Your Own Adventure books were targeted at 10 to 14 year old children, the education pipeline can begin to support the formulation of this trajectory during the same period and support it through the secondary phase of their education.

Current pedagogical initiatives bring more real world context to the classroom experience where education’s connection to real life can be sustained.

A student can then exercise their “proactive muscles” to make things happen (Covey’s Habit 1) and alter their personal trajectory (higher or lower).

The paths to choose from are more varied than ever and the need to support these choices is critical. Post-secondary stakeholders (college, military, trades, industry) all report under-prepared students showing up at the end of the pipeline.

Communication from these stakeholders on present and future needs is critical to the process and can help the “Create Your Own Life” group to incorporate these elements into their personal adventure. (Twitter: #CYOL @mba04jvs3)

Through some defined paths, professed shared choices and self-directed study, students and adults can choose and then elevate personal trajectories to enhance achievement.

In my Twitter feed (@mba04jvs3) I re-tweeted an Edutopia post which gave an overview of how educators can support this kind of pursuit.
This requires a safe and supportive environment generated and maintained by a committed educator determined to engage students using their particular learning style, recognizing their level of interest, activating past knowledge and using real-world contexts.

Through a balanced combination of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art (spoken, written & creative expression) and Math, (#STEAM) students can “Begin with an End in Mind”.

This image; mentally conceived, physical pursued and consciously elevated, provides them with purpose to get up each day and create their own life (#CYOL).

Covey’s Habit 1: Be Proactive

Definition: Oxford English Dictionary
1930; pro-, prefix, denotes earlier occurrence.
Person, Policy, or Action creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened.

A preemptive step or method of thinking about situations becomes Covey’s first habit of highly effective people.

Being proactive is associated with responsibility, or as Covey states “response-ability”.

It is an individual’s decision to take control of their own life and move it in the direction of their choosing.

As a result, they make the life they want and they influence their immediate surroundings in the way they communicate.

Positive communication has a much greater influence than negative and expands that person’s Circle of Influence.

“One of the most important things you choose is what you say. Your language is a good indicator of how you see yourself.” Covey’s Habit 1

This circle is where a proactive person chooses to focus their energy without blame or justification.

I communicate in a positive manner about situations and consistently act on my Circle of Influence by:

  • Pursuing the role of a continuous learner
  • Guiding family response to situations and assuming control of their lives
  • Working with students to recognize this kind of control over their response, eliminate their negative reactions to situations, take response-ability for their lives and dictate their own trajectories
  • Providing colleagues support by listening to their particular challenges, sharing unfiltered information I glean from my continuous learning but do not lay blame if they misuse or ignore the information presented
  • Focusing energies on the learning process and share it without condition and minimal filters

This is how I strive to be proactive.

I believe that stakeholders in the education process should be open about communicating needs and taking responsibility for results.

If the workforce is lacking particular skills, then industry is not communicating clearly enough about current and future needs.

The education pipeline is now 15 years long (K-14).  An extended process by any industry definition.

By statute, the state dictates that participants can change direction every five years, subjecting participants to wholesale change in direction and scrapping current practice for the “new thing”.

Stakeholders should be less concerned about laying blame about where failings have occurred and take responsibility for communicating their needs and supporting improvements to the process.

They should acknowledge that they have “skin in the game”.

This would be proactive.

Covey’s 7 Habits Revisited

The educational playing field is shifting.

  • Content
  • Pedagogy
  • Assessment
  • Evaluation
  • Technology
  • Readiness

Teachers must maintain an effective position to serve their customers, “students” and all stakeholders in the education delivery process.

Anticipating this shift, I decided to revisit a significant work written for personal and business effectiveness,

Dr. Stephen Covey’s, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”

It maintains a lasting presence in my work in each marketplace I have chosen to participate.

Its tenets frame every activity in which I engage.

I see traces and reframed concepts in the work of more contemporary authors.

  • Be proactive
  • Begin with the end in mind
  • Put first things first
  • Think win / win
  • Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  • Synergize
  • Sharpen the Saw: mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically


Creating an environment for all things to occur requires educators to push the boundaries of the traditional classroom and use an integrative holistic approach and create a new place for learning to occur.

  • A place where guiding principles are practiced to insure consistency in the agenda.
  • A place where deliverables target the true customer(s) and stakeholders in the process.


Content initiatives (SPI’s, “ I Can Statements”, CCSS), pedagogical revisions (Growth Mindset, MKT & Accountable Talk), assessment (Summative, Formative, PARCC, MIST, Mastery or Standards based grading), career-readiness activities (TNPromise: K-14, Internship/recruitment, hour(s) of code), technology integration (1:1, Technology goes Home, “free/reduced internet service, social media communication), PBL (discovering essential understandings), STEM/STEAM (creative problem solving), Heutagogy, Adrogogy (student centered, self-directed learning), et al.

I want to align my actions to maximize effectiveness and deliver quality in and out of the classroom to my customers / clients / stakeholders.

After recently completing work as a Tennessee Core Coach for the new state standards and reviewing the blueprints for the new assessments to teachers across the state, I am preparing to deliver Geometry content and Credit Recovery using Edgenuity.

I am using this series of blog postings to  personally reconnect with these tenets and plan my work in the classroom for 2015-16.

The re-examination of these concepts in the form of Blog Posts will, for me, solidify my thinking for this plan and transition to the 2015-16.

Your comments would be appreciated.

A Path less Travelled

A Path less Travelled

Learning and leading has been at the forefront of my experience in my career.

  • Learning the Creative Design Process through four years of secondary work in high school and applying it through my study of Architecture in college.
  • Studying the functional components required in the development of water features and packaging a standard process merging creativity and engineering of these particular features.
  • Training in the technical issues of project estimation/construction and applying pattern recognition to identify standard elements of diverse construction projects.

The realization of this work came only through the ability to transfer this knowledge to a defined process, communicate its value to colleagues to secure adoption and measurement of outcomes both in the aesthetic reaction of the end user and the quantitative analysis of profit and loss.

This sums up the trajectory of my experience in the world outside of “education” but required me to marshall elements of educational pedagogy to insure continued success.

I came to education from an engineering and construction background and have used my skills to advance the production process, as opposed to moving toward administration, where people abdicate their role on the front line of producing and delivering and delegate the complexity of product delivery.

After extensive work, I extended my vision through post-graduate work in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, recognizing the critical components behind disruptive innovation and the basis for successful business ventures.

This required adopting the position of a continuous learner but never shying away from the role of “temporary expert & advocate” in the area of a particular process.  This world of continuous learning has exploded with the advent of the “virtual learning environment”.  I have been promoting the potential of online learning to the current student population and it extension into a continuous learning environment for continuous learners.

Most encounter online course materials as “de rigueur” for entry level college courses but this access is oft times restricted and requires a “ticket” for admission and participation.

However, offerings through a variety of well-known colleges have begun to break down barriers to this type of content through sites like:

  • Coursera
  • Udacity
  • Acumen+

I reside in a “gigcity” renowned for internet speed but with idle computing capacity in libraries and schools.  This resource could move a population toward continuous “student centered, self-directed learning”. (Heutagogy: student-centered, self-directed learning.)

School leaders and administrators have the opportunity to open these resources to their “zone” and encourage engagement in an under-engaged population.  Industry leaders have the opportunity to pressure this move to more open access by stating specific demands outside of the “ticketed admission” channels of post-secondary education and throw open their doors to a population interested in self-improvement with the hurdles of “acceptance” and allow self-determined interests guide learning to enhance the trajectory of people’s lives and careers.

Suggesting Parents Opt Out of Evaluation is Wrong

A recent post at publishes an expert’s suggestion that a parent refuse “student evaluation” for special education.

I commented on the article but the comment was rejected.

This article provides arguments against rejecting evaluation and gives no credence to the education professionals’ suggestions that a child’s condition be evaluated.

I stated in my comment that state-wide testing and evaluation is an ongoing practice in schools and that the child is being regularly evaluated on their skills and career-readiness.

Early intervention could elevate the trajectory of a child’s education and their abilities to cope with the demands of adulthood.

I am interested in comments.

ReReading NCTM article on Learning

I was rereading an NCTM Key Strategies Brief ; “Five Key Strategies For Effective Formative Assessment”  ID=11474.

Dylan Reed cites key reasearch into assessment of teachers and students and the advancement of learning. Wiggins and Tighe, 2000; Sadler, 1989; Brasford, Brown, and Cocking, 2000; Deci, 1982; Fontana and Fernandes, 1994; Mevarech and Kramarski, 1997; research based evidence we are have had but refuse unwavering support.

We see a generation of students who have been subjected to whimsical changes in the learning environment based on a new gadget or new political current.

The key items contained in this article are:
1. Clarifying, sharing and understanding goals for learning and criteria for success with learners.
2. Engineering effective classroom discussions, questions, activities and tasks that elicit evidence of students’ learning.
3. Providing feedback that moves learning forward.
4. Activating students as owners of their own learning.
5. Activating students as learning resources for one another.

Reed’s article assembles tried and true reseach into what can produce a mutually rewarding environment for learning.
We continue ignoring research based methods and constantly tweak the environment which disrupts learning and exemplary outcomes.

Give teachers the liberty to cultivate a generation of students that have the opportunity to experience this environment.  Familiarize yourself with these concepts so you may integrate them into your students’ learning experience.

Quoting from the article,

“It involves a change of focus from what the teacher is putting into the lrocess and to what the learners is getting out of it, and the radical nature of the changes means that that the support of colleagues is essential…..Students are more engaged, achieve higher standards, and teachers find their work more professionally fulfilling.”

James Snyder