Monday, December 2, 2013

HATS, Goals, and Me


Let me explain.

What is HATS?
At our school this year the theme is "HATS off to Learning!" HATS is an acronym for Habits, Attitudes, Talents and Skills.  More specifically:

       strong Habits

     positive Attitudes
celebrating Talents
developing Skills

We have been exploring these concepts during our Morning Meetings, at our Whole School Meetings, and throughout our classroom discussions this year. We even have a bulletin board in the hallway where students and teachers can post pictures that they would like to share of examples of their habits, attitudes, talents, and skills. So, how does this apply to me? As lead learner, it is important that I model what I am asking of the students. I don’t know that I consciously did it, but when I look back on things now, the last 5 months have been a reflection of our school theme for me (actually it is more like 8 months). Once again, let me explain.

New Habits
On Super Bowl Sunday 2013 I made the decision to start eating healthier. I was probably the heaviest that
I have ever been in my life and completely out of shape. I let myself get comfortable in the mindset that I was too busy to worry about my health. So, I decided that night that I was going to eat healthier. I’ve made the mistake of jumping in to this type of thing too quickly in the past and I didn't want to fail, so I figured I would just give the eating thing a try. It worked. I lost some weight and was starting to feel a bit better about things. This was the first STRONG HABIT that I cultivated. I continued this until the school year came to an end and then it was time to really make a decision on how to move forward.

Several months before, I downloaded C25K onto my iPhone; that is a “Couch to 5K” app. It sat on my phone and I opened it from time to time when I was bored; however, I did not really have any intention of using it. However, my PLN (Professional Learning Network) changed that. I went to #edcampphilly in April and met up with a number of people from my twitterverse.  After the event, we went out to celebrate and @sirotiak5, @wkrakower, @misscas22, and @thomascmurray were talking about doing a 5k in the summer (If I missed anyone, my apologies). There was no way that I was in any shape to run a 5k by then, no matter how many times they said I should. BUT, that was the spark that I needed.  I still didn't start running right away, but the seed had been planted!

On July 1st, I decided that I was going to give it a try. I have always hated running and it was definitely something I had never tried before to get in shape. Enter STRONG HABIT number 2. The app says that you will be ready for a 5k in 8 weeks. I say, “Ha Ha Ha!” If I tried that I would have certainly quit early. Fortunately, one of the many runners with whom I work (its like an epidemic at Bear Tavern) said that if I did not feel ready to move on to the next week’s running schedule I should just do the week over again; and again if necessary. That was great advice. By the end of the summer, I would get upset if I missed my running workout at the gym.

Positive Attitude
Somewhere during those two months in the summer, I decided that I needed a goal to attain. Since I had the app and was using it, I guess it was natural to decide on running a 5k. Thanksgiving seemed like a reasonable time-frame and my town has a Turkey Trot every Thanksgiving. So, in August when the registration became available online, I registered. At this point it became real. I told everyone that I knew about it so that I couldn't back out. I genuinely believed that I was going to run a 5k on Thanksgiving. I think it is safe to call that POSITIVE ATTITUDE. Even when I injured my hip and basically could not run for much of October and November (except on the stationary bike or elliptical), I knew that I was going to reach the goal!

Celebrating Talents and Developing Skills
Since my running mantra had always been "I'm not running unless someone is chasing me," it was awkward for me to start celebrating accomplishments in something that I have generally disliked my entire life. However, I found that for some reason my dislike of running actually seemed to make the accomplishments more meaningful. I began to realize that I probably disliked it because I never felt that I was any good at it. The first time I ran for 20 minutes straight I texted my wife with, "I DID IT!" Similar texts ensued as I reached other goals. I don't really know if running is a talent, but I know that I sure began to CELEBRATE it! Additionally, by reaching these goals and increasing my stamina, I was DEVELOPING the SKILL.

The Point(s)
We all need goals, and I found one that helped to spur me on to a healthier lifestyle. I received texts the morning of Thanksgiving from numerous friends and colleagues offering support. Here are a couple texts that I received from teachers at Bear Tavern:
"It is a great morning to run. Enjoy the moment and celebrate the accomplishment. You may not know this, but you've inspired a lot of your teachers - including me. Have fun."
"Happy Thanksgiving. Happy run! Disregard the other runners and have fun - even in the cold - this is what you've trained for. I look forward to hearing about it all." 
I can't convey how amazing it was to receive those messages that morning. I truly work with amazing people who are always there for one another. That morning as the nerves built up and I started to wonder if I was crazy for doing this, these thoughtful notes meant a lot.

I know that running a 5k is not a big deal in the scheme of things, but for me it means a great deal. I proved to myself that I can do it. I truly feel that I acted as an example for my own children and those at Bear Tavern in getting healthier, setting a goal, and working to achieve it. It reminded me of the amazing and supportive people with whom I work everyday. It showed me that my PLN is more powerful than I thought and can foster all kinds of learning. If all of that is not enough, it also showed me that adhering to the ideals in our school theme can help us reach our goals.

So, what should be my next goal....?

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