Habits of Mind

Dear EVCS family,

There’s a lot about our school that makes me so proud, but one of my favorite things is the dedication our teachers have to ongoing professional learning. We meet as a team every Monday afternoon after the kids have all gone home, and we plan, collaborate and hone our practice together. These days the thing that we are all fired up about is called The Habits of Mind. This framework identifies 16 universal skills or characteristics that promote reasoning, insightfulness, perseverance, creativity and craftsmanship. The idea is that if we consider our academic curriculum to be a vehicle for learning these transferable qualities, our kids will learn to become agile thinkers and problem solvers, prepared to respond effectively to a very wide range of challenges and tasks in the classroom and in everyday life. The Habits of Mind are:

1. Persisting
2. Managing impulsivity
3. Listening with understanding and empathy
4. Thinking flexibly
5. Thinking about thinking
6. Striving for accuracy
7. Questioning and posing problems
8. Applying past knowledge to new situations
9. Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision
10. Gathering data through all senses
11. Creating, imagining, innovating
12. Responding with wonderment and awe
13. Taking responsible risks
14. Finding humor
15. Thinking interdependently
16. Remaining open to continuous learning

Our teachers have begun integrating tools to support learning these Habits of Mind in their classrooms so you may start to hear your children make reference to them. Our teachers have also recently started a large scale lesson study, looking at Operations and Algebraic Thinking from kindergarten through fifth grade, using the lens of thinking and communicating with clarity and precision and responding with wonderment and awe. Very exciting and inspiring stuff!

I also wanted to share a moment I had today with the 2nd through 5th grade classes in the auditorium at recess. It’s been challenging having so many days of indoor recess this winter due to the ice and punishing temperatures, but the kids have been flexible and persevered, and hopefully we’re through the worst of it. Today the older kids finished an excellent movie called The Iron Giant, which they all seemed to really enjoy. When it was finished I asked the kids what they thought the theme of the movie was, and dozens of hands shot up in the air. I was so impressed with the discussion that followed — the thoughtfulness of their responses and the way all 150+ kids in the auditorium listened to each other. Some highlights: Maurice (2nd grade) said, “You don’t have to be what other people expect you to be or tell you to be. You can be yourself.” Hale (3rd grade) said, “Stand by your friends.” And Sadie (3rd grade) picked up on a very poignant line from the film and said, “You are who you choose to be.” There were many Habits of Mind on display in this small moment.

I can’t help but respond with wonderment and awe every day that I get to work with the amazing kids and teachers at the East Village Community School. Thanks for all you do, and have a terrific weekend.


Bradley Goodman