Content is a pathway.
This is especially frustrating because we know that the essence of good instruction is rooted in the idea that the content is simply a pathway to these underlying and necessary skills. Most of us, hopefully, came into education to make the world a better place through developing young minds that are thoughtful and self-actualized. Teaching literature and writing has always been for me, a vehicle to get to the broader skills of thinking and communicating effectively.
Unfortunately, in a climate of testing and questionable data collecting in a bid to appease problematic algorithms of success, we have defaulted to the content as king. Furthermore, as numbers continue to become the only sanctified form of data, we have to find a way to shift the focus from measurement to meaningful communication with our students. The language and priorities used in providing feedback to students often emphasizes linear growth at the expense of deepening, or even broadening students’ mindful habits– the most enduring skills that education should facilitate.
How do we get back to teaching students the fundamental skills they will need to succeed outside of a school setting, if there is no time (or freedom) for this type of instruction?
For the past 3 years, we have been developing and field testing a resource for teachers to begin having these deeper conversations in their classrooms. We have shown this document to countless students and teachers, parents and administrators, as well as educational designers and consultants.
The result is what we call the “Habits of Mind.”
The Habits can be used in a variety of ways. Teachers can use the document as a way to embed skills in their lessons, and have conversations with students about why they are included. The Habits can be used to create rubrics that measure these skills explicitly, and provide valuable feedback on a continuum over the course of the year. Students can use the document to assess their progress, or drive conversations and conferences with both their peers and teachers.
Much like the Socratic Oath we developed previously, the Habits of Mind are a living document. Dig into it, and ask questions. Challenge what we have prioritized. Add skills that you think are missing. Scrutinize the lines we drew between similar concepts. All of your feedback is welcomed.
There will always be free copies here on the site for you to print and share with other like-minded educators you know.
Additionally, if you do find a use for the document, let us know how you are using it on social media with the hashtag #APThabits . We’d love to see how the Habits are working in your classroom or school.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and we hope you will find some value in the APT Habits of Mind.