By ANGELA MILLER
Principal, Mentone Elementary School
In the past century, the three Rs, (reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic), have turned into the four Cs, (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, creativity and innovation, and collaboration), (NEA, 2012). Of these four skills, collaboration plays an important part in supporting the other three.
Collaboration is not a luxury, but a crucial skill needed to prepare students for the challenges that they will face in becoming lifelong learners and productive members of the work force. The skill to collaborate has become as foundational as the ability to read and to compute.
Teachers at Mentone Elementary are providing lessons on collaboration through the work of Angela Maiers. Her book, Classroom Habitudes, has become a guiding force behind preparing well rounded 21st century learners at Mentone.
A teacher leadership group read the book last school year and then wrote and received a grant to purchase a book for each Mentone teacher. This school year all teachers are reading the book. Each month we focus on one Habitude and teachers meet to share ideas about classroom Habitude activities.
The traits that constitute the habitudes are both habit and attitude: daily disciplined decisions that successful learners choose to make and a specific attitude that determines a new mindset and way of thinking about the world and one’s place in it. (Maiers, 2012). Maiers has defined the seven Habitudes as: Imagination, curiosity, self-awareness, courage, adaptability, perseverance and passion. Learning these seven mindsets helps students be critical, be creative and be strategic and to have the endurance, fortitude, and courage to brave each new challenge with confidence and competence, (Maiers, 2012).
Through the Habitudes the teachers are nurturing genius. Every student has an area that can be defined as his or her genius. Through activities, discussion, and reflection the class recognizes the unique attributes of each member in the classroom community and forms a collaborative group in which students learn and discuss the Habitudes. Students also learn how these skills impact their own learning and choices.
There is evidence of the Habitude mindset displayed in every Mentone Elementary School hallway. Teachers have found that these skills are easily integrated into the regular curriculum. The dividends are huge. Students are reflective. Students are talking differently to teachers and to each other. Teachers have commented about the impact these lessons have made on the students:
“Teaching Habitudes allows my students to understand that they are special in their own way. It’s about teaching children that we all have our own unique talents that create individuality.”
“At a time when high-stakes testing occupies so much of our time and energy, teaching the Habitudes has given us a chance to engage the inner child and to teach the “whole child” complete with feelings, dreams, fears, goals and giving them the mindset that if they persevere; they will achieve.”
Mentone Elementary students are learning that in first understanding ourselves we can then collaborate to achieve more. Students and teachers at Mentone are on a Habitudes Journey that provides a common language and a safe environment in which they can take risks and grow. Providing the tools and the atmosphere for students to work together is an investment in the future.
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”—Ryunosuke Satoro