Book ‘review’: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

General, Theory

Book by Stephen Covey

Here are a few key sections/quotes/thoughts that I gathered from a very brief flick through the book. I read the first few chapters more carefully, but was well overdue in returning it and so skimmed through the last sections…

Overall image sourced from p.53. A helpful overview and worth pointing out one of my favourites (also brought out strongly in last Emerging Leaders course):

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood”


Interesting insights from Covey’s own experience with son…p.16f – struggling in school, socially, athletically etc. They had desire to help him. Realised significance of how they saw him and treated him, i.e. Actions were communicating that they thought he wasn’t capable. Focused attention on their own motives and perception of him. See his uniqueness potential…they needed to affirm, enjoy and value him.

p.54 discussion on P (production of desired results) versus PC (production capability, asset that produces). Need a balance in maintaining/preserving both. Particularly, Covey later says (p.58) with regards to employees. “The PC principle is to always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” Treat them as volunteers – indeed “they volunteer the best part – their hearts and minds”.

In ‘Habit 1’ discussion of proactivity, discusses value in being proactive, driven by well thought out values etc, rather than reactive, driven by feelings, circumstances etc (like the weather!) In responding to others influence/affect on you, Covey quotes Eleanor Roosevelt – “No one can hurt you without your consent”. Our consent hurts us more than what happens in the first place. Choose my response!


Table sourced from p.78 showing proactive versus reactive type responses.

IBM founder T.J. Watson quote on p.91:

“Success…is on the far side of failure”.

Ties in well with the growth mindset idea! Need to have a go, fail first, to reach success.


Maths/Math related stories

Resources, Theory

We know how much everybody loves a story. I was encouraged to pursue this through a number of talks/tweets/articles etc. I was also encouraged beginning this in 2016 with some attempts to incorporate stories into my maths class.

One of the best things I found was ‘crafting’ something that had happened in class into a story (eg. tale of someone who avoided something fearing they would get stuck, later worked it out etc, later revealing it was me!)

Aside from that though, here are some links to stories that I found I could weave into a maths lesson somehow:

Marking and Feedback

Resources, Theory

mark-804935__180Marking seems to take up a stack of my time (I feel slow) and I am passionate about making it a worthwhile learning experience for the students. And so, after considerable time consuming and being shaped by multitude of sources, I have decided to take the time and craft something of my own reflection on the topic of marking and feedback. This has been a journey covering more than a year so far and is one that I’m sure has more twists, turns and chapters to be written…

A key landmark for me was hearing from Dan Haesler at the 2014 3P Love Learning Conference. His seminar on ‘Growth v Fixed Mindset’ struck me and was perhaps the PL session that has led to the most significant changes in my teaching philosophy and practice to date. I went home from that session and almost immediately stopped providing grades – as recently as last month I took a copy of this article with me to parent-teacher interviews to ‘defend’ the approach I had taken. (EDIT: perhaps best/easiest summary is this site – summary of Dylan Williams work, includes link to his paper)

Although convinced of much of the discussion in these sources and recurring research since this time, I have recently been directed to change my approach to providing feedback to students. For almost a year I have not given marks back to students on their maths tests but have opted for a variety of different approaches to feedback (see more below). I have now been instructed that marks are to be given back –  I have managed to negotiate one condition though: students need to first provide their own reflective feedback on the task in order to ‘earn’ their mark back!

So… why am I recording all this? Well, I was keen for some critical reflection on the journey over the last year or so and to collate here a number of references to come back to with regards to marking and feedback. I am keen to review myself and see if I could have done things differently so that my current predicament didn’t occur (i.e.. now having to give marks back), and also to keep evolving more valuable feedback tools to help encourage growth in my students.

  1. At this point in time, I am convinced that the biggest error I made in implementing my ‘no marks’ policy was a lack of communication. This has become clear to me more recently as I reflecting on both my own implementation of the practice, as well as reading about some others approaches. Whilst I pretty much went and just stopped giving their marks (and then kind of enjoyed the debates that followed!), I read and nod my head at the sensibility of others (one in particular whom I unfortunately can’t put my finger on at the moment – argh!), who took the time to introduce the concept to students and explain its purpose, value and merits. I can see value in communicating some of that to parents in advance too.
  2. As part of that communication, I came across this lesson here (which I need to review further) that works through with kids a different grading strategy. I have also heard positive things about Fawn Nguyen, including her work on feedback with a highlighter.marking-pin-156032__180
  3. In terms of things that did work well for me… I tried various techniques of marking and feedback. It ‘felt’ worthwhile when I set out: writing two – three points of feedback per student, regardless of their score. This included a student who got 100% once but I was able to push them further on a question. Other times I have tried a range of methods, such as getting them to write their own feedback and crafting my marking as ‘prompts’ to find the answers themselves. One that I liked, perhaps more for its efficiency, was marking by ‘coding’ errors with a number, then uploading a google docs file the students needed to refer to for the feedback. For me it put some responsibility back on them, was measurable enough for me to see if they’d amended their work and also was efficient enough from a marking perspective.

The plan from here as flagged above is that students will now get papers back with markings on them (haven’t locked in a format) that they then need to take away, work on, and bring it back to me if they want their mark (students are often so fixed on getting a mark back!!). Meanwhile, I’ll keep reflecting, adjusting, researching, trialling approaches that work (ideally in terms of efficiency and effectiveness). As I keep journeying, I’ll add links below to further articles on marking/feedback etc. that I’ve found useful/stimulating along the way.

Failure… and growth

“Failure is success if we learn from it.” Malcolm Forbes
Some sites etc. that I’ve come across affirming failure as a road to learning/success, not just something to be avoided:

Here’s a link to a stimulating blog on growth mindset… lasting or passing philosophy?

And more on clearing up confusions about growth mindset…