For almost twenty years now, I have focused exclusively on developing young leaders—in schools, athletic teams, clubs, churches and organizations. In 2003, I launched Growing Leaders, an organization that would be about this single mission. Since that time, we’ve created a system to develop young leaders called Habitudes: Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes. It’s been a rewarding journey.
After working with more than 8,000 schools and organizations since 2003, we now have some results to unveil. Thousands of the students, athletes, staff and young professionals we’ve equipped recently completed an assessment about the changes they experienced through Habitudes. Students tell us they’ve become:
- More focused with their time and energy.
- More disciplined in their planning.
- More effective students in class.
- Better teammates and leaders.
When we’ve heard back from educators, we’ve been… well, inspired. Let me share the areas where the greatest gains have been made.
The Ups and Downs of Using Habitudes
- Detention Goes Down.
Disciplinary incidents drop. In just one year, Duluth High School reported disciplinary action was reduced by almost 50% across the board, including referrals and total number of students involved in rules violations. Only 3% of freshman had one or more discipline referrals, which was a huge drop from the prior year. Another school reported a 60% decrease in fights and a 40% decrease in thefts.
- Retention Goes Up.
Kids stay in school, and more graduate. At several high schools, ninth grade retention rates increased measurably in just one year, going from 20% of students dropping out of school to 10%. Further, students not only stay in class, they succeed: Principal Jason Lane said, “After the first semester, we had the lowest failure rates for many of our courses in recent history.”
- Attention Goes Up.
Student engagement increases. Although adolescent attention spans linger at about seven seconds, Habitudes helped capture and engage students. Several principals said, “Habitudes contributed to a 45-50% increase in community service hours per student.” Additionally, a Cobb County high school reported, “ a 400% increase in student-initiated clubs. Even some of our homeless kids now volunteer to support our special education programs.”
- Pretension Goes Down.
Pretension is the unpleasant quality of people who think of themselves as more impressive or important than they really are. Habitudes discussions foster humility and perspective among students. The result is courtesy in the classes and hallways, according to high school principals. Fayette County schools reported measurable improvement in student attitudes.
- Intention Goes Up.
Students begin living life on purpose. As a result, the culture is healthier. One Gwinnett County principal reported the rate of his students making straight A’s climbed measurably, while students making all A’s and B’s increased to almost half the student body. Another principal Billy Richardson said, “Ultimately, we are seeing students from all demographics engage in the Habitudes conversations and prepare for their life ahead of them.”
- Extension Goes Up.
Success doesn’t end with high school. Students graduate college and career ready. They think like leaders. Mill Creek High School reported, “Last year, we had 35 students in our leadership club. This year, we have 370 members who receive monthly leadership training and opportunities to serve and lead, with another 70+ on a waiting list.” Additionally, they said, “We had almost 260 junior and seniors volunteer part of their lunch twice per week to mentor 9th graders.”
One of the best success stories we’ve seen comes from Mill Creek High School. Dr. Jason Lane, principal at Mill Creek (which happens to be the largest public high school in Georgia), had this to say:
After hearing about Habitudes and learning how it benefited other schools, we decided to implement the program. Within a short amount of time, I began to notice a difference. Conversations that happened in the classroom and in the hallways literally went from students displaying disrespectful behavior to seeing them open doors for each other and their teachers, as well as saying “thank-you” and “please”. It was a light switch that flipped on for them. Habitudes has been an invaluable tool to help reframe the conversations we have with our students on leading themselves, leading in school, and what is expected from them.
This is just one of many stories we’ve received from our Habitudes partners. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our webpage dedicated to Secondary Schools. You will find the large variety of Habitudes resources we offer and how schools are using them. We’d love for you to join us in this story.
Looking to develop leadership skills in students next year?