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Instilling the right habits`

The school’s principal and CEO Jaswinder Kaur said that she was among the 10 teachers from the school who attended the seminar based on the seven habits conducted by FranklinCovey Malaysia President V.S. Pandian.

“It is astonishing to see how life-changing the seven habits are when applied to daily life. It adds value to every facet of life,” said Jaswinder Kaur. She added that those who attended the seminar exhibited major changes in perception and attitude.

“The seven habits begin with being proactive. After the seminar, all of us became so much more inclined to carry out our duties instead of putting it off,” she said at the launch of the Leader In Me programme at her school recently.

A teacher carrying out a ‘Power of Silence’ exercise which is done before a lesson to enable students to be calm and focused.

Citing an example, she said, “before the launch of the programme at school, teachers were involved in carrying out different tasks and that included putting up banners and cardboard pickets but thanks to the seven habits, I did not have to give instructions as the teachers were able to carry out their tasks efficiently”.

One is required to be Be proactive, Begin with the end in mind, Put first things first, Think win-win, Seek first to understand then be understood, Synergise and Sharpen the saw, added Jaswinder Kaur.

“After noticing how effective the programme was in instilling a sense of empowerment in our teachers, we decided to get our students involved and that led us to to enlist our school into the Leader in Me programme and to be accredited,” she added.

Jaswinder Kaur explained that originally the work of Dr Covey was thought to be inappropriate for younger children.

“Back in the late 80s and early 90s, it was thought that children in primary school could not absorb the seven habits.

“However, the programme proved to be a succes in American schools and was consolidated by Franklin Covey,” she added.

Kaheel says that teachers have been upbeat about the seven habits even for teenagers.

 “The habits are linked and sequential. You start off with the first three — Be proactive, Begin with the end in mind and First things first.

“This is because the first three habits affect the self inwardly and not others. Correcting oneself is necessary before you can start interacting with those around you,” she said.

She explained that the first habit teaches you to take charge and realise that your decisions determine the direction your life takes.

“You must also take responsibility for your decisions and accept the consequences. Secondly, you Begin with the end in mind, meaning you must set your goals and work backwards from there.

“That way you will know what you need to do to achieve your goals.

“After that you need to prioritise what you need to do which is the third habit — Put first things first,” she added.

The other four habits are those that help one interact with each other and work well with others said Jaswinder Kaur.

“Think win-win teaches one to always find mutually beneficial solutions to problems you face with other people involved. After that you try to understand the person before making yourself understood, which is pretty straight forward.

“After some emphatic listening, you go on to synergise with the people around you to make the solution work, and finally you have to sharpen the saw, determine what is important in life and work on it,” she said.

Jaswinder Kaur said that Sri Dasmesh and a sister school in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah were the only two in Malaysia to be accredited as Leader In Me schools which meant that all seven habits were being inculcated into the school culture.

“There are 692 schools globally that are part of the programme in the United States and in Canada.

There are also 20 “lighthouse schools” which have successfully assimilated the habits,” she added.

Asked why the schools were called lighthouse schools, Jaswinder Kaur explained that it was because the schools that had successfully absorbed the habits in its day-to-day activities, stood tall like lighthouses.

“Lighthouses also light the way for ships at sea and thus a Leader in Me lighthouse school does light the way for other schools.”

Ekankar Kaur has been able to balance her time for work and play more efficiently.

 “There is a potential leader in every child and each of us is a role model to someone, he or she can be a friend, our spouse or even our gardener.

“When you see teachers and students taking charge of duties and responsibilities at school, they are being proactive and they take the initiative and do what needs to be done.

“Simple encouragement is all it takes to move them to action. We had a cleanliness campaign and when the students saw how much work the cleaners were doing, they immediately picked up mops and brooms to share the burden,” she added.

“The best part is they maintain their enthusiasm and keep cleaning up after any mess and help out the cleaners whenever they can,” said Jaswinder Kaur.

She explained that the programme was implemented as a subject by itself 35 minutes every week, but was also imparted daily in the day-to-day activities and duties in school.

“As far as the costing is concerned, monetary expenditure to implement the programme is minimal … the biggest investment is time.

“But there is no loss in that investment. The time used to develop our staff continuously leads to every one working together to make life at school a truly worthwhile experience,” she said.

Kaheel Ari Venga, a Form Two student at the school said that before the school received the Leader in Me accreditation, the teachers had already exposed them to the seven habits through the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens written by Dr Covey’s son, Sean Covey.

“The teachers were already upbeat about it and taught us what they knew through the book for about 35 minutes each week.

“We had to go through lots of role-playing and other related activities to get a clearer picture of how the seven habits worked,” said Kaheel.

He added that even though he did not have the opportunity to learn the habits in primary school, he still managed to glean a lot from the habits and it had helped him become a more patient and understanding individual.

“I think habit number four which seeks one to understand and then be understood, has been such a valuable lesson to all of us. It definitely helps me to be patient with others and work better as a team player.

Jaswinder Kaur says that the programme adds value to every facet of life. “I wish I had learnt all this earlier, it would have been so helpful at different instances. My younger schoolmates, will certainly have an edge as they would have learnt these habits by the time they reach secondary school,” he added.Ekankar Kaur, said that she also found the habits extremely helpful especially when it came to homework.

“I used to procrastinate a lot, but after learning how to set goals and how to prioritise, I managed to balance my time for work and play more efficiently.

“Now I am able to complete my homework and still have some time for fun,” she said.

Sarjit Kaur who has two children in Sri Dasmesh said that the programme was helpful even for parents.

“There are some stumbling blocks to understanding the change in mindset and perspectives of the children, but once you catch on to the seven habits, it’s easy.

“It is enlightening and eye-opening for me as I am learning them from my child,” she added.

She said that the habits were truly applicable in daily life and gave grown-ups a dose of humility and tolerance, so needed in modern society.

“With all the problems we are facing in society today, it isn’t hard to see the wisdom behind teaching our children these seven habits,” Sarjit shared.

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