Posted in Miscellaneous

Stephen R. Covey: Leader of an Education Revolution

The world lost a driving force in the field of education;  Stephen R. Covey died in a hospital in Idaho on July 16, 2012.

If you don’t know much about Stephen Covey, you’ve probably at least heard of his most famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. But there is so much more to him than that. Although he was known for his work in the business field, he also used his time and resources to help schools improve their performance through his program titled “The Leader in Me.”

“The Leader in Me” was started in 1999 by Muriel Summers, the principal of a small failing magnet school. She attended one of Covey’s conferences about the seven habits and afterwards asked him if he thought these habits could be taught to children as young as five years old. After thinking about it for a second, he replied that he did. 

Photo courtesy of my.opera.com.

Summers headed home to A. B. Combs Elementary School in North Carolina, full of new ideas. Over the next couple months, she and her staff worked to incorporate the new theme of leadership into their school, based on the seven habits. Over the next six years, the school increased its passing scores on tests by 30% and was named the number one magnet school in America in 2006. Teacher morale skyrocketed, parental involvement increased, and students started teaching curriculum to their families at home.

What makes this program so effective? The curriculum hasn’t changed, just the way the curriculum is taught. As Covey put it, “From the moment they walk into the school each day until the final bell rings, the children soak in their adult leaders’ belief that they are leaders of their own lives, have unique talents, and can make a difference.” The students are taught the seven habits and are expected to live as leaders to the people around them by making the right decisions. Covey stated it this way: “The concept is to get all little children to see themselves as a leaders; not in the formal authority sense, but in more of a moral authority sense in that they live by principles and have responsibilities to influence other people.” In other words, students are taught to act and not be acted upon.

I believe that Covey had the right idea about education. If you have any spare time, I recommend reading an article he wrote titled “Our Children and the Crisis in Education.”  If you don’t have time, let me share one of my favorite quotes with you. In the article, Stephen Covey says, “When I look into the eyes of the children, I see the hope of the world. As I watch the talent of the teachers and adult leaders of these schools in action, partnered with devoted parents, I see the hope of the world. Leadership is the highest of all the arts, for it is the enabling art of unlocking human potential. It is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.”

Sources:
www.theleaderinme.org
http://www.examiner.com/article/stephen-r-covey-author-business-leader-and-peace-proponent-dead-at-seven9
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-r-covey/our-children-and-the-cris_b_545034.html

Posted in Miscellaneous

There are Always Children

       One of the reasons I chose Elementary Education was that I love children, and I assume most others in this major would say the same thing. As elementary teachers, we have the opportunity to interact with children all day. While I know they can be difficult at times, during this summer I have come to really appreciate children. They are the same all over the world and remind us that we are all human.
       At the beginning of my study abroad in Spain this April, I was feeling homesick and a little strange being in a different country with a different culture. However, one evening my roommate and I shopped along the city’s Main Street. I was charmed by all the children and families I saw enjoying a Saturday evening. Despite Spain having its own culture, the children still played, laughed, and got in trouble just like the children at home. It dawned on me that maybe Spain wasn’t so different and strange after all. I felt much more at home, and they continued to cheer me up whenever I saw them.
       Similarly, Cambodia has felt a little different and strange at times. One particular day we were meeting some people who lived in little huts close to the big tourist attraction, Angkor Wat. I was quite saddened by their poverty and felt a little guilty and uncomfortable for all the things I have that I had taken for granted. But everything seemed okay when I saw the children playing around—playing hopscotch on the dirt or entertaining themselves with small, simple toys. I realized that children bring comfort and cheer because they remind us that we are more alike than we think. No matter how different a situation seems or how big a gap between cultures there is, there are always children that act and look (as well as how cute they are) the same everywhere in the world. Children are always running around, playing games, being excited, smiling, getting into mischief, and doing other child-like things. Because of these experiences, I am even more excited to be working with children when I become a teacher. I look forward to continuing to learn from them.
Posted in Miscellaneous

David O. McKay

David O. McKay fulfilled the role of teacher in several capacities including as a missionary, school teacher, administrator, Apostle, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and father. He is known for his contributions to education in and out of the church, which is perhaps the reason that the BYU school of education is named after this remarkable man.

As a young man, David had an unquenchable desire for learning, which eventually led to a career in education. He graduated from the Church’s Weber Stake Academy in Ogden, after which he became a principal of a community school. One year later he was enrolled at the University of Utah where he graduated in June of 1897 as class president and valedictorian. He served a two-year mission for the Church in Scotland.When he returned he was hired as a teacher at his childhood school and later was appointed the principal.

David O. McKay said, “True education seeks . . . to make men and women not only good mathematicians, proficient linguists, profound scientists, or brilliant literary lights, but also . . . men and women who prize truth, justice, wisdom, benevolence, and self-control as the choicest acquisitions of a successful life.”

He also said, “Education is an investment, not an expense. It can become an investment not only for time but also for eternity. ‘Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.’ (D&C 130:18.)” I think that everyday that we study at BYU it would be wise to apply President McKay’s teaching that education really is an investment for eternity.

Photo courtesy of lds.org

In the book titled, “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay”, there is a chapter titled, “Teaching, a Noble Work”. President McKay said, “In God’s great garden have been placed overseers called teachers, and they are asked to nourish and to inspire God’s children.” He is speaking to us, as future educators and parents. We are asked to care for and teach the children of God and that is a great calling.

David O. McKay once said, “Character is the aim of true education; and science, history, and literature are but means used to accomplish the desired end.” I love this! We really do need to educate our minds, but he says that at the end of the school year, it’s character that is the most important. As future educators, we can each receive  inspiration from David O. McKay’s life and devotion to education. How will you apply some of David O. McKay’s teachings to your future classroom or home?

See these links for more information about the life and teachings of  David O. McKay:

http://education.byu.edu/mckay/index.html

http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=d3f2be335dc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=5158f4b13819d110VgnVCM1000003a94610aRCRD

Posted in Miscellaneous

Focus

I attended a conference at church a few months ago where my stake president shared an experience about him learning to drive. He related that as he drove on the road in his lane, he became worried about moving towards the side of the road. He looked there and began to drive in that direction. His instructor told him, “Focus on where you want to go.” Whether you want to graduate from BYU, get accepted into a certain grad school, or even help a struggling student learn to read, this advice is so important–not just for driving.

Photo courtesy of http://www.safeoptions.co.uk/

When I first started high school, I realized that it was very academically hard and difficult to find friends with good standards, but that I ultimately wanted to go to BYU, and I would have to succeed in high school in order to get there. It was with this realization that I started to truly focus on my school work, my grades, and my volunteer work. I made progress toward my ultimate goal and eventually made it there!
If you don’t focus on where you want to go, you most likely will not reach your destination. As you focus on that dream or goal, you constantly have to think about it and your everyday actions begin revolve around it. Those actions lead to progression toward that dream. I encourage you to think about “where you want to go” in the future and focus on that end goal because that is when you’ll start moving towards that dream.