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New habit = finding time



habit Loop

habit Loop

I’ve joined etmooc with my PLT (principal learning team). Our learning goal this year is to better understand what 21st century skills are, why they are important and how we as administrators create and support learning environments where students need and practice these skills. As a first step we joined etmooc to become learners ourselves. My original thinking was I personally would learn about new technology available today and how to use it effectively. What I’ve learned is some much more than just new technology. My etmooc experiences so has helped me to touch on all our PLT goals and has inspired so many more ideas and even projects at my school. Unfortunately not all the members of the PLT have gotten involved in the course yet and the main reason they’ve sited is time. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and wondering how to answer their questions about how I have found time to think about the course. I think maybe I’ve just developed some new habits.

I recently finished Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, where he shares a framework to help understand how we develop or better yet can change our habits. His message about changing, controlling or altering our habits is to first notice the cues (the things that trigger our habits) and the rewards (the real reason we keep doing something or what we get from the habit). The next step is to identify the routine. The essence of Duhigg’s idea is to keep the cue and reward the same and to change the routine.
I’ve been thinking about when I spend time on this course or maybe better how I’ve added time in my day for this course. Last week I joined the etmchat on twitter and actually participated. Yes it was moving at light speed but I jumped in and contributed to the conversation. Every Wednesday I take my kids to their karate lesson and I sit and watch for an hour. Sometime I would do a Sudoku on my phone or read the paper if I remember to bring it. This week I used the hour to fit in the twitter chat. I realize there is lots of times when I am help captive like during the kids lessons (dance, music, karate, hockey etc) several time a week or when I am waiting for a meeting to start ( like school council once a month). I used the wait time as a new cue to work on etmooc. The reward is the rush of excitement from new learning and being able to engage with new ideas.

I learned too that I can be lazy in the evening. I turn on the TV after supper to relax and watch for an hour fully intending to do some school work or reading after a break. What usually happens is I get lazy and never turn off the TV and the evening slips away with none of my goals realized. I’ve tried to adjust my habit by watching TV with the ipad in hand. Now with the TV on, I start scanning etmooc blogs, then I end up exploring and downloading new apps and before long I’m in full learning mode and I don’t even know what is on TV.

I think my answer to my PLT’s questions about finding time is I’ve created some new habits.  I’ve used some of the old cues, changed the routine and the result or reward is added time for new learning.



  1. Clay Shirky wrote a book about this ability to find time. It is the same principal that wikipedia was founded on basically.

    I stick with the iPad during TV thing and do less of the iPad while kids are at karate thing.

    • dwilson856 says:

      Thanks for the link. I think if we can figure out how to tap into cognitive surplus or how to bring this idea into classrooms we could change the future of education.

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