Habits of Mind

Habits of Mind

Our Trust has engaged specifically with the work of Art Costa and Bena Kallick on the power of Habit and the strong implications this has on developing student behaviours and developing successful dispositions as they journey through school from 4-18 years old. The Habits of Mind are a set of 16 dispositions and behaviours, identified by Art Costa and Bena Kallick, that help students successfully approach problems and challenges they encounter in the classroom and in everyday life. The aim is to ensure that these dispositions are developed so that when students are faced with an answer that they do not immediately know, they display these characteristics in order to manage the situation ‘intelligently’.

We strongly believe that it is the symbiotic relationship between knowledge content, learning tools and dispositions that maximises student success at all levels. From the list of 16 Habits of Mind, each school selects and adapts what they feel is appropriate and then tracks staff and student progress along a bespoke Novice to Expert scale. Students and staff are encouraged to progressively understand each Habit, model each Habit and develop it an all aspects of their lives. Developing dispositions to become a ‘Habit Hero’ runs through all parts of each school, forming an integral thread through assemblies, lessons and also extra-curricular opportunities because our philosophy of the role of schooling is to ensure that each student can realise their own potential and achieve mastery of their own destiny. One of the Habits of Mind which is common in all of our schools is ‘metacognition’ because we strongly correlate the success of our learners to the active and committed drive to engage all stakeholders with an understanding of their own thinking and provide cognitive structures to support this.


At all levels of schooling the Habits have been adapted to appeal to the varying needs of the learners.

Here the Habit ‘taking responsible risks’ was focused on because children were reluctant to take the opportunity to attempt more difficult learning opportunities, often shying away because they felt they didn’t have the knowledge or resources to attempt it. The ‘wobble monster’ now represents a positive part of the learning journey – feeling outside of your comfort zone is a good thing and a good opportunity to develop the disposition of taking responsible risks. (must be next to Wobble monster picture)

Students of all ages are encouraged to approach Habit development in a developmentally appropriate manner – first understanding the meaning of each habit, becoming aware of opportunities to develop the Habit as they progress towards conscious competence of each disposition in specific situations.

Habit of Mind Meaning in our educational context
Persistence Students continue with a task and do not give up at the first hurdle, by using the tools available to them. They seek support from peers and use all resources to find alternative avenues to success if struggling.
Managing impulsivity Students think before acting and consider different courses of action through planning exercises which allow them to contemplate the consequences of actions.
Striving for accuracy Students aspire to be exact and master the demands of a task. They carefully use success criteria to self and peer assess.
Clarity and precision Students convey thoughts accurately when speaking, listening and writing. They consider appropriate use of vocabulary and gesture.
Empathy and understanding Students are aware that not everyone will have the same view as them and they consider alternative perspectives. They are encouraged to actively seek who certain perspectives have formed.
Skills of interdependence Students have opportunities to productively work with others to understand and apply content. They learn from others through discussing, supporting and challenging ideas.
Wonderment and awe Teachers are conscious to develop curiosity within their subjects. Actively linking content to relevant real life situations and sharing impressive findings within the subject.
Finding humour Opportunities are provided to be fun and playful with ideas.
Creating, imagining, innovating Students strive for enough subject knowledge to produce original ideas in a particular area.
Applying past knowledge to new situations Referring to previous knowledge and understanding past performance accomplishments to encourage students to consider how previous experiences could support understanding in a new setting.
Thinking Flexibly Sometimes drip feeding in information to encourage students to consider how viewpoints can change.
Remaining open to continuous learning Students enjoy learning and are keen to add to knowledge and skills. They are not fearful of not knowing an answer and trying new techniques.
Questioning and posing problems Students ask thoughtful high order questions. They trial their own strategies to solve problems.
Gathering data using all senses Providing students with a variety of learning opportunities that do not just focus on the auditory and visual forms of delivery. Students use all senses to source information to develop understandings.
Metacognition Students are aware of own thoughts, feelings and actions. They reflect on their strengths and areas for development independently.
Taking responsible risks Providing students with opportunities to take calculated risks. Students are prepared to answer questions and give opinions even if not 100% sure. They are confident to move outside of their comfort zones.

Research Basis

  • Koura, A. A., & Zahran, F. A. (2017). Using Habits of Mind to Develop EFL Writing Skills and Autonomy. Arab World English Journal, 8 (4)
  • Costa, A.L., & Kallick, B. (2014). Dispositions: Reframing teaching and learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin
  • Burgess, J. (2012). The impact of teaching thinking skills as habits of mind
    to young children with challenging behaviours. Emotional and Behavioural difficulties, 17 (1). 47-63