How Did You Figure That Out?
Developing Habits of Mind in Our Students
Ann Gillinger, Head of School

What behaviors are indicative of the efficient, effective problem solver? Just what do we do whenwe behave intelligently? Research in effective thinking and intelligent behavior indicates that there aresome identifiable characteristics of effective thinkers. Your teachers explored this intriguing topic during their in-service day in January as they looked at effective Habits of Mind that lead to successful problem solving in their students.

Habits of Mind are described as approaches that are intentionally employed when you are confronted with a problem whose solution is not immediately apparent. To understand the intent of the Habits of Mind, we shift emphasis from just having right answers or information, to knowing how to act on that information. With Habits of Mind, we focus on how students behave when they don’t know the answer!

Substantial research indicates that students prosper intellectually, socially, and emotionally as they learn and utilize the Habits of Mind. The School develops a culture of “mindfulness” that raises the level of dialogue for everyone.

The Habits of Mind as identified by Costa and Kallick are:
  • Persisting
  • Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision
  • Managing Impulsivity
  • Gathering Data Through all Senses
  • Listening with Understanding and Empathy
  • Creating, Imaging and Innovation
  • Thinking Flexibly
  • Responding with Wonderment and Awe
  • Thinking about Thinking (Metacognition)
  • Taking Responsible Risks
  • Striving for Accuracy
  • Finding Humor
  • Questioning and Posing Problems
  • Thinking Interdependently
  • Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations
  • Remaining Open to Continuous Learning

Watch for examples of your child’s teacher utilizing these strategies as we support and nurture the whole child as a thinker and problem solver. You will definitely see us striving for accuracy during the Spelling Bee; finding humor at each month’s Spirit Assembly; creating, imaging, and innovating during theme related buddy sessions; and countless more. These habits are as good for adults as they are for students. All of us can get better at the Habits of Mind.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle

Habit is a cable;we weave it each day, and at last we cannot break it. Horace Mann

When we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work and
when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey. Wendell Barry

The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Habits of Mind: #6 Striving for Accuracy
Striving for Accuracy and Precision

People who do this:
Take time to check their work to get the best possible results.
They are very aware of the expectations on them and the standards they need to meet.
Confirm that their work exactly meets the criteria they were given.
Take pride in their work.
Rework projects they decide do not meet the required standard.
Don’t go for the quickest answer but instead go for the best.

Embodied in the stamina, grace and elegance of a ballerina or a shoemaker, is the desirefor craftsmanship, mastery, flawlessness and economy of energy to produce exceptionalresults. People who value accuracy, precision and craftsmanship take time to check overtheir products. They review the rules by which they are to abide; they review the modelsand visions they are to follow; and they review the criteria they are to employ and confirmthat their finish product matches the criteria exactly.

To be craftsmanlike means knowingthat one can continually perfect one's craft by working to attain the highest possible standards, and pursueongoing learning in order to bring a laser like focus of energies to task accomplishment. These people takepride in their work and have a desire for accuracy as they take time to check over their work. Craftsmanshipincludes exactness, precision, accuracy, correctness, faithfulness, and fidelity.

For some people,craftsmanship requires continuous reworking. Mario Cuomo, a great speechwriter and politician, once saidthat his speeches were never done—it was only a deadline that made him stop working on them!Some students may turn in sloppy, incomplete or uncorrected work. They are more anxious to get rid of theassignment than to check it over for accuracy and precision. They are willing to suffice with minimum effortrather than investing their maximum. They may be more interested in expedience rather than excellence.

“People who value accuracy, precision, and craftsmanship take time to check
over their products. They review the rules by which they are to abide, they
review the models and visions they are to follow, and they review the criteria
they are to use to confirm that their finished product matches the criteria

Webster’s II New College Dictionary defines accuracy as conforming closely to a standard or a fact. Precision is strict adherence to rules, forms, or standards.

Ask students to think of types of activities that require accuracy.
Then compare to dictionary definitions.

Scientists, engineers, mathematicians, health-care providers, and
factory workers are all examples of people that we may easily recognize
as using accuracy in their work. Craftsmen also value accuracy and
precision in their art. A craftsman can be a musician, a dancer, a
shoemaker, or carpenter, to name a few.

When a carpenter measures the length of a 2x4 before cutting it, he or
she may check the measurement to be sure that it is accurate.

A dancer whose movements are synchronized to music may stop moving
at the precise instant that the music ends.

What can you do to improve your accuracy?

When I use this habit I am setting high standards for myself, and always doing my best. I am checking that I'm reaching my goals and always looking for ways to improve.

A man who has committed a mistake and doesn't correct itis committing another mistake.