Habits of the Mind
Developed by longtime educators Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick, Habits of Mind are 16 characteristics that intelligent people use to approach challenges they can’t immediately solve. They are learned tendencies that when practiced until they become habits can make the difference between struggle and success.
- Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision
- Managing impulsivity
- Gathering data through all senses
- Listening with understanding and empathy
- Creating, imagining, innovating
- Thinking flexibly
- Responding with wonderment and awe
- Thinking about thinking (metacognition)
- Taking responsible risks
- Striving for accuracy
- Finding humor
- Questioning and posing problems
- Thinking interdependently
- Applying past knowledge to new situations
- Remaining open to continuous learning
Where Habits Go Right
When they are formed, habits tend to be linked to certain places or times, like having a snack or posting on Facebook after school. At Howard, Habits of Mind are posted in every classroom. The more visible they are, the more students remember to put them into practice throughout the day across all subjects and activities.
Every learner is innately strong at some of the Habits, while others require more practice. At the beginning of the school year, students perform a self-assessment to identify their strengths and challenges, and teachers give detailed feedback to help students play to their strengths, focus on areas for improvement and set mini-goals to achieve them, all in the context of Habits of Mind.
Managing impulsivity – and the related skill of maintaining focus and attention – is a critically important Habit of Mind. Students who are easily distracted or lack problem-solving strategies may give up when a problem is difficult to solve. “Attention is the gateway to all of the other Habits of Mind,” Hamilton notes. “The first step in helping students improve their attention is for them to develop self-awareness of how their attentional difficulties impact their learning."