The Helix Monthly: Growth

Welcome to the Helix Monthly, a monthly (obviously!) blog about the goings on at The Helix School.  

Over the summer our faculty and staff read “The Power of Habit: What We Do In Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg.  For those of you who have not read it, and we strongly suggest that you do, Duhigg explores the science of habit formation. He takes an in-depth look at both the habits of individuals as well as organizations.  Habits in an organization are actually the precursors to processes and routines.  Duhigg uses examples from his own life to show how he changed some of his habits, but perhaps most interesting were the examples of large, well-known companies that changed their organization’s culture for the better by focusing on what Duhigg calls “Keystone Habits.”  

Keystone Habits are habits that start a momentum of change, like a domino effect. Within an organization, keystone habits alter routines to produce a positive impact on a multitude of levels.  This got us thinking:  Could THS benefit from having a keystone habit, and if so, what would it be? 

We decided the answer was yes, as an organization, Helix could benefit from focusing on one big thing this year, something that would impact many other processes and have a reverberating positive impact throughout the school.  We determined that our keystone habit would be Growth.  Growth across the organization will serve as an indicator that the different parts of our school, from admissions to fundraising to teacher trainings, are working together.  We realized that if we can increase our growth across all functions of the school, then it will be because the Helix team pulled together to strive for excellence.  Growth will be an indicator that we are making progress in changing our habits across the entire institution.  

A key to focusing on growth this year is first to acknowledge the small wins and build on each one of them.  “Small wins are exactly what they sound like, and are part of how keystone habits create widespread changes,” says Duhigg. Secondly, it is important that we have everyone involved in asking themselves, “Is what I am currently doing contributing to the growth of The Helix School? Am I stretching myself? Am I going out of my way to make things better than they were the day before?” Finally, it is essential that every person - from teacher to admissions director to board member - understand that they each hold the key to being a significant contributor to our overall growth.

As a school for children with autism, celebrating the milestones of their progress - both big and small - is what we do every day.  By noticing and acknowledging the small wins in our students as well as in ourselves, we build a culture that honors a path towards growth.  And of course, these small successes collectively lead to bigger and more significant changes. 

The famous NFL coach Vince Lombardi said, “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” Well then, with our team of teachers and administrators focusing on growth within themselves as well as for their students and the school as a whole, there leaves no doubt that The Helix School is already on it’s way.