The "Habits of mind" refers to the phenomenon by Arthur L. Costa in the 1966 book by the same name. In the book, he outlines different habits which can help create life success and how to make a positive impact on the world around you.


Teachers can incorporate these habits to improve student outcomes, classroom management, and develop learning strategies. By simply instilling these habits onto students, as well as themselves, teachers can improve the quality of learning dramatically. 


1. Listening with understanding and empathy

Incorporating empathy as an ongoing practice can help you better understand your students needs and adjust your teaching style to suit them. By placing yourself in their shoes, you will improve the way in which you deliver content and drive greater learning outcomes. 


2. Thinking about thinking

Teachers can install better student thinking by asking challenging questions. As teachers, we must ask things such as, 'What's going on in my head?' and 'Why do I think that?'. Thinking about the thinking process itself, allows for clarity and helps nurture the academic voice within all students.


3. Striving for accuracy

As educators, teachers benefit when they encourage targeted thinking, recognize errors, and make personal improvements. This does not mean striving for 100% effort in everything, but aiming to achieve better results than before. Over time, your accuracy, and the habit of accuracy, will have a net positive effect on your teaching method as well as students. 


4. Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision

It's not hard for a great thought to fall apart when it's communicated in the wrong way. Teachers should strive to communicate their points to students with as much clarity and precision as possible. In return, this will promote a similar style of communication from students. 


5. Gathering data through all senses

In modern classrooms, the pressure to rely on technology can cloud judgement. Relying on technology can push you away from trusting your gut. Teachers should utilize their full range of senses to best assess and adjust to the changing classroom environment. 


6. Responding with wonderment and awe

Younger students will always respond to learning when information is presented with excitement. By creating more exciting content, teachers can encourage greater amounts of student engagement and even connection. We should encourage students to seek that connection out.


7. Taking responsible risks

Playing it safe doesn’t get you anywhere. Unnecessary risk-taking doesn’t either. There is a science to balanced risk-taking that leads to improvement. As teachers, you must take responsible risks to drive engagement among your students.


8. Finding humor

One of the greatest tricks in the classroom is to recognize the twists, quirks, and ironies of life, even if laughter is not our first reaction. Your students might be better at this than you... But, students tend to form greater connections to teachers who embrace some humor in their teaching.


9. Remaining open to continuous learning

Learning is an ongoing process for both student and teacher. Creating an environment which fosters ongoing learning and development is supported by an open mind from teachers.


What now?

Once you know the habits, it can be daunting to find a way to implement these into your teaching habits. Arthur L. Costa knew this and encourages specific steps and tips in helping you out. The book recommends four different ideas:


  1. Discuss the habits openly
  2. Actively Encourage the Habits
  3. Facilitate Reflection
  4. Offer Opportunities to Demonstrate


As an educator, it is crucial to understand how our teaching habits effect student achievement and classroom management. Although this is just a basic overview, we hope that these 10 mind habits give you inspiration for your next lesson.

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