This also aligns with David Rock's method of coaching, which explains how to instill new habits and ways of thinking into the person across the table from you instead of telling them what to do. David Rock says:
"A new habit is a delicate and fragile creation,
and just like a young seedling, it needs a warm nurturing environment in which to grow" (166).
So, the first step to turn ideas into habits is to intentionally transfer them from working memory to long term memory. Here are some ideas on how to do that:
4 Ways Turn an Idea Into a Habit:
1) Mindmaps or Diagrams: Toni Krasnic (@conciselearning, www.conciselearning.com) explains the power of a mindmap extremely well in his book How to Study with Mind Maps. By creating connections in your brain between an old idea to a new one, you will begin to solidify the new concept in your mind. By using a visual tool like a mind map or any type of diagram, you can take a higher level idea and bring it down to something your brain can manage. I am currently doing this with my each of the coaching models David Rock presents in Quiet Leadership, and it has helped tremendously.
Think about the potential with students - when they are having trouble understanding a concept ask them to draw a mind map of what they do understand and help them fill in the gaps!
2) Visual Reminders: One of the things I always find myself saying is "out of sight, out of mind" because it is a literal thing for me. If I do not have a visual reminder, I honestly will not remember to do something. I try to blame this on mommy brain, but really I just have too many things to remember to do. So the more I can do to create visual reminders (i.e. a checklist, sticky notes, images, diagrams, reminders on my phone, etc) for myself the more likely I am to stick to something. Also, the more colorful the better. Your brain is able to trigger memories of where things are placed on the page more easily. I will be pasting visual charts and quotes on my desk to remind me of details from Quiet Leadership.
This is also true with students - they have been away from your class for 24 hours; they've done a lot in between. Help them by creating visual reminders that will trigger their memories as much as possible. This is why I often use Poster Sticky Notes to take important colorful notes. This way I can paste it back on the wall when they return the next day.
3) Planned Action: Habits don't become habits if you forget about them. You need to set up some specific actions to transform it from an idea to a habit. David Rock says "Do something tangible yourself to anchor this model into your thinking. Some possible ways could do this include, explaining it to others, creating your own diagram of the model,
or doing some writing. Anything you can do to give the circuits holding this concept in your thinking some attention will make a difference" (172). Rock also recommends accountability, find someone to talk to this habit about so that they can help you form it more solidly!
Peer accountability can be key in building student habits. For example, I am always harping on them to write their homework down in their planners. But what if the routine was to have your seat partner check to see if you had written it down correctly? Then, that forces both students to check the accuracy of what they wrote down, and they each have peer accountability.
4) Don't Give Yourself a Crutch: If you truly want to form that new habit, don't allow yourself to go back to the old way. Not even once or twice. You will slip back into your old ways in no time. For example, I recently decided that I wanted to go digital with my To Do Lists. I was really sick of losing sticky notes, but I always have my phone with me. So I started using the Any.Do app (after trying several others, I landed on this one and love it!). To make this true change in habit, I needed to stop writing down notes to myself. So anytime I attempted to take a note on paper, I stopped myself and went to my phone. This is still a work in progress, but I think I'm getting there!
With students this means stretching them. They are going to most likely revert to their usual way of doing things because that is easier. You have to stretch them and gently remind them that this is the new way and they can't go back and lean on the old way instead.
I recently taught a Study Skills class where I emphasized the importance of students transferring the information from a lecture or class into long term memory to help them study. Here is the link to the Prezi and Visual Posters for that class if you want to check it out.
Try This Tomorrow: What habit are you working on forming? Any new ones at the start of the school year? I am so interested to hear! Please leave a comment. And try out these tricks to help you make them stick!