Building Habits of Mind in the Classroom

Habits of mind are repetitive thinking patterns that intelligent people use to solve problems they encounter. They also develop heuristic shortcuts that can help them solve tricky situations.

Infusing habits of mind into your classroom can help your students develop a sense of inquiry, exactness, and flexible thinking from new perspectives. They can also learn to take responsibility for their learning.

1. Asking lots of questions

Asking lots of questions is one of the most important habits of mind for leaders and followers alike. It helps you gather the information you need to do your job effectively and improves how you communicate with others.

It also shows you’re eager to learn and improve yourself. That’s a valuable trait that employers and coworkers look for when hiring people.

In studies, researchers found that people who asked a lot of questions were better liked by their conversation partners and learned more about them than those who didn’t. They were also more willing to go on a second date with their conversation partner.

2. Taking time to think

Carving out a time to think can open your mind and do a lot for your personal and professional development. It can also help you focus and improve your performance at work.

You can schedule thinking times throughout the day or week. Try finding gaps in your calendar that are pretty consistent from week to week, and make it a priority to fill those.

Taking time to think will allow you to clear your head and come up with alternatives for difficult situations. It will also teach you to be more creative.

3. Listening with empathy

Listening with empathy is one of the most important habits of mind that you can adopt to be an effective communicator. It involves putting yourself in the shoes of another person and acknowledging their emotions so you can better understand what they are feeling.

In business, empathetic listening can help you build strong relationships with your team members, customers and clients. It also allows you to understand what they might need from you so you can be more helpful in the future.

Empathic listening requires patience because the speaker may need time to express their feelings and thoughts. It’s important to avoid offering advice during this process unless the speaker asks for it.

4. Using information that you already know

One of the more difficult habits to build is this one, and it takes practice and repetition to get there. The trick is to get students to see the big picture and not just see the text box in front of them. In the classroom, this can be achieved by introducing them to new concepts in the context of a meaningful assignment. The more complex the task, the more likely it is that they will learn to think critically and creatively to solve problems in a way that benefits their learning and the learning of others. The resulting lessons will be the most valuable ones they can carry with them when they leave your classroom. To get started, check out our Habits of Mind e-book for some tips and tricks that will have your students ready to tackle their next big brain teaser.

5. Getting feedback

Getting feedback is one of the most effective ways to help students develop their habits of mind. You should always encourage your students to get feedback from others and to listen to it carefully.

You can give feedback by talking directly to your student or pointing them to an example that you’ve seen. It’s important to make sure that the feedback is relevant to their goals and that they can see how it will help them succeed.

Getting feedback also helps you to spot problems in your students’ work. For example, if you notice that someone has a lot of errors in their paper, it’s a good idea to point them to something else they can do to fix it.

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