The twelve behaviors of self-directed learning as presented in Habits of Mind by Arthur Costa and Bena Kallick (2000) are applicable and practical. The behaviors represent a utopian classroom and home environment for a growing learner.
The first habit of mind that was instantly applied in the classroom was managing impulsivity (Costa & Kallick, 2000). The second grader, as a subject, tends to lack the ability to manage themselves and their impulsiveness. The topic was introduced to the teaching team, and an explanation of the goal for managing impulsivity was shared amongst the organization.
The day after managing impulsivity was discussed, it was introduced using a mini-lesson. The vocabulary was broken down into kid friendly terms, and there was a discussion about what it looks like and sounds like. In order to help manage their impulsivity the students are no longer aloud to raise their hands. Each of their names are on note cards, and they are given proper wait time and pair sharing before their names are drawn. Students are only allowed to raise their hands for questions (Laureate Education, 1996).
Managing impulsivity has become a large part of the class, and has been shared with others throughout the organization. It is advocated as a habit of mind that should not be overlooked.
The next outcome that was particularly beneficial was metacognition. Although the word was familiar, the definition was known, and the assessment was routine, the explicit teaching of metacognition was lacking. With the help of prior knowledge, Pat Cunningham (Laureate Education, 2001), and metacognition as a habit of mind, many new activities have stemmed to increase students’ ability to monitor their learning. The strategy for teaching was instantly implemented as illustrated by this example. The mini-lesson evolved into a learning center with made up words such as “blanderationchank” (good phonetic structural make-up) to create wonderment. As a whole group the students try to read the word. After proper wait time (to manage impulsivity) the students were allowed to share their thinking with a partner. The group discussion was about the many strategies used to formulate the spoken word. These strategies included variations of analogy, syllabic analysis, and/or phonetic analysis (Tompkins, 2003). It has now been introduced as the Nonsense Workstation. The students’ were just as shocked as their teacher when they found out only half or a two thirds of adults could do what they were doing—expressing metacognitive strategies (Laureate Education, 1996).
The habits of mind have been individually introduced into the classroom as the content was learned. It worked concurrently with the pace of the class, and the assessment for learning of the students. Habits of mind are flexible in their ability to be easily integrated into the current curriculum. It was difficult to father in the beginning, but it has become second nature. The students have become more responsive, more inquisitive, and more managed. This has taken a load from their teacher resulting in more positive and affective instructional engagement.
Costa, A. L., & Kallick, B. (Eds.). (2000). Activating & engaging habits of mind. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (1996). Helping students become self-directed learners. [Video recording]. Los Angeles: Author.
Laureate Education (Executive Producer). (2001). Strategies for literacy instruction, part 1 [Educational video]. Los Angeles: Author.
Tompkins, G. E. (2003). Literacy for the 21st century (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.