Last week I outlined a mechanism for developing and maintaining habit change called the “small steps” approach. Today I’d like to walk through exactly how I would “small step” a new habit in my own teaching.
Example: Using a Step List to Improve Punctuality
One problem I want to address in my teaching is punctuality. Respecting the parents and students in my studio is of utmost importance to me, and I want that to be reflected in the way I start and finish on time.
A challenge to staying prompt is that it is very easy to run a few minutes late (transition time, a student breaks down and has a tantrum, I get caught up teaching something very important, the parent asks an important question), but I feel it is unfair to end a lesson early. Like a ratchet — or public transportation — it is impossible to get ahead and all too easy to fall behind.
Since I can’t anticipate when delays occur, it seems the solution to this problem is planning for every lesson to finish 10 minutes early. Unfortunately, I’ve trained myself to be comfortable with 35 minute long lessons instead of 20. But efficient, intelligent, and practiced teaching would help me finish on time. So let’s analyze how I will make this change.
The first thing to note is that the ONLY change I’m making in my teaching right now is my ability to teach 20 minute, compact lessons. Every other habit is established and on maintenance (see the listed articles in Small Steps), or waiting on my habit wishlist. [Read more…]