Stephen Covey Delivers Keynote at ISTE

At this year's ISTE conference, one of our keynote speakers was Stephen R. Covey, famed author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I was thrilled as that is one of my favorite books. What the program didn't tell attendees was that Covey was only appearing via video, not live in person. While that was a bit of a let down, Covey's address was still great and timely.

He covered two main ideas - our Personal Leadership and our potential to be a Leader for our Students. What follows are my somewhat random notes on Covey's keynote address.

Personal Leadership

Covey stressed that to achieve personal leadership, you need a strong skill set, a strong tool set, and a strong mindset. We must focus more attention on changing our mindsets, our paradigms. This is what led him to the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People." Every significant "breakthrough" is actually a "breaking away" from an old paradigm.

Be Proactive: Take control of what is in your control. Proactive educators don't place blame others - the state, the district, the administration. This habit is the mindset that you control your life.

Begin with the End in Mind: Develop a personal mission statement, a family mission statement, a professional mission statement, and a personal motto ("Live life in crescendo"). Remember that technology is a means, not an end. Technology is meant to "bless" not to "impress." This habit is the mindset that it is up to you to create your vision for what you want to accomplish in life.

Put First Things First: Prioritize. Don't just have a dream, live your dream. The main thing to do in your life is to keep your main things the main things. This habit is the mindset that gives you the discipline to stay focused on what matters most.

These are all principles that will not change. Technology will change in the future, but principles will not.

Being a Leader for Students

No one fully knows the future that our young people will face. The first thing we need to do is to empower our students with effective paradigms. If you want to make small changes with students work on their skills sets and their tool sets. To make quantum changes in kids, work on their mindsets. Skills and tools will change, paradigms will not.

The second thing we must do is help them discover their unique talents and then respect and celebrate those talents. Leadership is communicating people's worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.

Treat a man as he is and he will become worse than he is. Treat a man as he has the potential to become and he will become better than he is. One of the most important visions you have as teachers is your vision of what students can become. Have we narrowed our vision of students to simply "test scores"? Seeing students as test scores is the worst form of identity theft we can commit.


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