Data can be used to measure the effectiveness of our instruction and assessment practices. Recently, I decided to apply the same concept to my personal wellness. The results have been amazing!
I wanted to change some of my wellness habits, such as the number of hours I slept a night, the amount of water I was drinking each day, my alcohol consumption. I also wanted to build yoga into my morning routine. It was a struggle.
I struggled to remember all the changes I wanted to make.
I struggled to start making the changes.
And, I struggled to do them on a regular basis.
To help keep these new habits top-of-mind, I decided to borrow a concept from an elementary school colleague: the behavior chart. Elementary teachers use these charts to track and motivate students. My son is particularly influenced by the gold stars his teacher uses to recognize (and encourage) particular habits.
I created a chart that listed my desired behaviors/habits down one side and then the number of days I achieved them along the other.
Immediately the chart made a difference. I instantly became addicted to adding checks every day and in each category. One of the best parts was looking back and seeing a week or a month’s worth of accomplishments. Even more amazing was how, after a few months, certain behaviors became part of who I was. Morning yoga, for instance, used to be a struggle – something I had to really make an effort to complete. Now? It’s as much a part of my mornings as showering or brushing my teeth.
The chart data, like assessment data, provided some insights into my behaviors. For instance, morning yoga suffered on weekends and holidays. Conversely, alcohol consumption grew heavier near weekends and holidays. The lead up to Christmas break was a real alcohol free-for-all. This inspired a complete boycott the following January.
The visual evidence provided by my tracking charts was really helpful in developing new, healthier habits. If you enjoy seeing daily, steady progress then maybe behavior charts will work for you too. Even if your habits don’t change, the information you gain about yourself is of significant value.
The bottom line is teachers need to really start looking after our wellness. Teachers are always thinking of others. But who looks after us? The short answer: no one. The longer answer: seriously, no one. Take charge of your health and happiness – get crackin’ with behavior trackin’!