Reflections on My Habits of Mind Journey

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Reflections on My Habits of Mind Journey

Student Motivation

The habits of mind have certainly helped my students be more focused in class. Since focusing on the habits of mind, my students have been substantially more likely to finish their assignments and give an honest effort than in years I did not teach the habits of mind. Prior to explicitly discussing the habits of mind, students lacked a specific language to articulate what mindsets and routines led to a successful academic and personal life (Costa and Kallick, 2009).  Initially, when I started to read about the habits of mind, I believed they could only be taught through explicit lessons similar to those in Vermont (Johnson, Rutledge, and Poppe, 2015). However, during my work at Johns Hopkins University, I realized that the habits of mind were organic components of good teaching that could be interwoven into everyday lessons (Heick, 2016).

Prior to teaching the habits of mind, many students resisted the good practices of the habits of mind in the context of school because they had little life experience to prove that they would pay off (Calarco, 2018). I first taught the habits of mind by using examples from students’ daily lives, as is recommended in the Vermont curriculum Vermont (Johnson, Rutledge, and Poppe, 2015), and then regularly integrating the habits of mind into lessons (Murray, n.d.). Conversations in class became more centered around praising the process of learning and the habits of mind used in that process over the outcome alone (Stewart, n.d.).

For example, a student by the pseudonym DB was still struggling to regularly finish his work in class because he would give up once he stopped being completely confident with completing the problems on his own. Through the work we have done together as a class around the habits of mind, he was able to finish a “tenacious task” (the term I use in class for complex mathematical tasks that take at least half of the class period) in its entirety for the first time. Many other students were also more successful in persevering through the entirety of a tenacious task when they had been mentally primed for the task. Costa and Kallick predict this phenomena as well, stating that students are far more successful with the habits of mind when they are actively thinking about when they are or are not exhibiting the habits of mind (2009).

My students are overall calmer and more ready for the class when they are thinking about the habits of mind as well. When we actively discuss metacognition or why we work through difficult problems in class, students feel less “tricked” and more that they are growing and learning.

The habits of mind lessons created during this year went well with my students, mostly because they still held my students to rigorous academic standards while integrating the habits of mind (Murray, n.d.). I did not deviate from still teaching the required course material in order to re-enforce habits of mind, and I consistently tied the habits of mind back into how students will be more successful because of the habits of mind (Costa and Kallick, 2009). As a result, the habits of mind felt like tangible, useful skills to my students.

Vision and Goalsetting

While my students have been vision and goalsetting in my classroom since I started teaching, but I did not previously use the habits of mind language until I learned about it in this program. I now regularly incorporate the habits of mind language into students’ vision and goalsetting, focusing on the process of how students are going to accomplish their goals more than the outcome (Stewart, n.d.). Students have taken note, with one student even telling me that the increased reflection in the classroom has helped him realize that it is okay for math to be hard. This is similar to how a student in the Just Listen video is able to get a clearer perspective of himself and a calmer mindset through writing regularly in the classroom (2011).


I predict that when I begin to introduce the habits of mind starting at the beginning of the year at my new school this fall, my students will quickly become fluent in the habits of mind language (Costa and Kallick, 2009). Similarly, if students are reflecting and goal setting from the beginning of the year using habits of mind language, then they should be more successful in achieving those goals and finding those goals achievable. Students have already noted that framing goalsetting in habits of mind language makes those goals more attainable. If students do this since the beginning of the year, they will probably find more success in their goals as well.


Brahier, D. (2013). Teaching secondary and middle school mathematics (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Calarco, J. (2018, June 01). Why rich kids are so good at the marshmallow test. The Atlantic. Retrieved from

Costa, A. L., & Kallick, B. (Eds.). (2009). Habits of Mind across the curriculum: Practical and creative strategies for teachers. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Heick, T. (2012, October 19). Integrating the 16 Habits of Mind [web log comment]. Retrieved from

Johnson, B., Rutledge, M., & Poppe, M. (2005). Habits of Mind: A curriculum for community high school of Vermont students. Montpelier, VT: Vermont Consultants for Language and Learning. Retrieved from

Just Listen 2011. (2011, August 28). Just listen: A new perspective on myself[Video file]. Retrieved from

Murray, J. (n.d.). Teaching strategies: The 16 Habits of Mind. Retrieved from

Stewart, C. (n.d.). Praising the process [Video file]. Retrieved from


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