A BLUEPRINT FOR GREATNESS
Ovid is reported to have said “Habits change into character.” Mahatma Gandhi expanded this in his famous advice about destiny:
“Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your behavior. Watch your behavior, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your values. Watch your values, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
To highlight the importance of one’s thoughts, actions and habits, Tree of Life teaches character through the 7 Habits, taken from one of the 20th century’s most influential books on personal leadership, “The 7 Habits for Highly Effective People,” by Stephen Covey (1932-2012).
The Tree of Life Mission has been “Developing Leadership & Greatness” since 2011, when the school was recognized by the Franklin Covey Organization as the first Leadership school in Latin America. Teachers, parents and students aspire to practice the 7 Habits in and out of class, resulting in the warm-hearted, dynamic and growth-oriented environment that makes Tree of Life unique. Student are encouraged to discover their individual leadership skills, developing the integrity and character that will carve out their reputation – and their destiny.
The following is a brief description of each of the 7 Habits and what they mean at Tree of Life.
1: BE PROACTIVE
Students learn they are the architects of their own lives. They can choose what to do with what the world offers them, by making sure their response to a stimulus matches their key values. Students and teachers recognize they are in charge of their own attitudes, which has an enormous impact on their influence and achievements.
2: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
Students and teachers begin with the end in mind, creating a blueprint for the desired result. Teachers work with understanding goals that include skills, knowledge and work habits. Students identify their own personal purpose, visualize the outcome and work for success.
3: PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST
Empowered and with a personal plan, students know where to focus and what to do first. They acquire planning skills as they develop projects, study and take part in community service, learning to prioritize what is most important. Students take initiative – a key 21st century skill. They can ignore time-wasting distractions and work with – rather than react to – urgent deadlines.
4: THINK WIN-WIN
Through project-based learning and student dialogue, students seek their personal best in a cooperative arena. Students learn to express their needs and wants with courage, while empathetically considering others’ needs. With Habit 4, students adopt a mentality of abundance: there is always an opportunity to build sustainable relationships where everyone benefits. Everyone can succeed by developing their skills, personalities and experience.
5: SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND
Habit 5 means that active listening leads to real understanding. Teachers, students and parents are encouraged to listen compassionately, establishing a safe environment for open dialogue, which in turn fosters creativity and growth.
To synergize is to celebrate diversity, taking advantage of different ideas and points of view. Multi-age classrooms, cross-curricular classes and non-traditional learning environments like the Maker’s Space prompt students to explore how real teamwork can lead to a better idea, developing emotional intelligence along the way. Students learn different thinking routines, to break the constraints set by linearity, and harvest the benefits of being part of what Brian Eno calls a “scenius” – a mutually appreciative and motivated community that inspires collective genius.
7: SHARPEN THE SAW
Motivation is the key to all growth, and is present when we have life balance. To avoid emptying one or more of these crucial reservoirs of vital energy, all members of an education community must consciously seek to renew their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy through time in nature, art, physical activity, play, and meaningful connection with others.
THE BIG PICTURE
While the 7 Habits are central to character development at Tree of Life, there is no 7 Habits class. The school applies these habits holistically, in all interactions in and out of class. From grade 4 onwards, the conduct grade for each student is based on a 360* assessment, taking into consideration the views of the student, their peers and their teachers. This assessment is done quarterly, with an emphasis on personal growth and learning from mistakes. At the start of each year, students from primary and secondary school have a Leadership Camp where the 7 Habits are explored through dynamic activities. Classes establish their own mission statement, while students and teachers are encouraged to share their personal purpose and put it into practice. School traditions, rules and practices are subject to the 7 Habits test – do they recognize and promote each student’s potential for leadership?
The Tree of Life mission, “Developing leadership and greatness every day,” is rooted in the values and principles behind each one of the 7 Habits. It bears fruit as members of the school community become positive agents of change at home, in school and in society.