Habits of Mind – Focusing on the “How” of Learning

Do you have students who get stuck in their learning?

I’m not talking about being stuck on a particular problem. I’m talking about students being stuck in their learning. These students “try hard” but constantly struggle, finding it difficult to grow and reach new standards each year.

Often, these students slowly fall further and further behind.

These are also the students who take up more of a teacher’s time. At first, we need to scaffold their learning. Then, we need to give them extra support and “hold their hand” as we guide their learning. Eventually, it may seem as though we’re dragging them through the entire learning process – spending more and more of our energy helping them as they achieve less and less.

As a result, teachers feel exhausted.

At some point, these students may simply give up. Having struggled and failed for so long, they stop trying. There is a learnt sense of helplessness. Rather than face the struggle and failure they’ve experienced before, they become non-learners by opting out of learning altogether.

The real issue is that many of these students focus on what they are trying to learn, not how they are learning. As a result, they adopt the same behaviours and approach to learning year after year. And these behaviours become less effective as the tasks become more challenging.

In short, these students lack an understanding of how to apply and develop their Habits of Mind – something more skilful learners understand.

Skilful learners and the Habits of Mind
Professor Art Costa and Dr Bena Kallick describe the dispositions or “Habits of Mind” of the most efficacious learners. The Habits are patterns of behaviours that skilful learners constantly upgrade. They are described in the table below.

The most skilful learners don’t simply use their Habits of Mind; they improve and develop them. They constantly seek opportunities to cultivate their Habits. These learners understand that to continue to succeed at increasingly complex tasks, they need to continually develop their Habits of Mind.

Skilful learners prioritise the development of their Habits of Mind. They recognise that any problem they are working on is an opportunity to develop their Habits. After all, once solved, a problem is finished. But the Habits of Mind they develop in the process can be applied to new problems!

It’s this focus on how they are learning and the development of increasingly effective Habits of Mind that allow skilful learners to succeed at progressively difficult tasks.
Would you like to know more about how you can help your students become skilful learners? To embrace challenges and develop Learnership?

To find out more about how I can help you develop Learnership, simply email me, visit my website or schedule a time in my calendar for a conversation. 

Best Wishes,

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