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Development of Skills, Habits, and Mindsets

Schools and classrooms that simultaneously emphasize academic growth and the development of the valued skills, habits, and mindsets that propel it are necessary for student learning and well-being, as well as for educational equity. These key skills—including executive function, growth mindset, social awareness, resilience and perseverance, metacognition, and self-direction—can and should be taught, modeled, and practiced just like traditional academic skills. Certain key structures and approaches can support the integrated and progressive nature of skill development and can be incorporated into the daily experience and work of school.

What Can Schools Do to Develop Skills, Habits, and Mindsets?

Support structures that integrate cognitive, social, and emotional development into learning, which include:

  • Curricula and dedicated time that enable students to explicitly learn and practice valued skills, habits, and mindsets (e.g., social and emotional learning or conflict resolution curricula);
  • Opportunities and routines that reinforce skills, habits, and mindsets during everyday instruction and school activities;
  • Scaffolds that support executive functions like planning, organizing, implementing, and reflecting on tasks; and
  • Collaboration protocols and rubrics that support interpersonal skill development in the context of subject matter classes.

Support practices that make learning and skill development visible and supported, which include:

  • Strategies that reinforce skill, habit, and mindset development; affirm students’ abilities and assets; and provide appropriate scaffolds (e.g., using growth-oriented language and practices);
  • Strategies that help students describe their thinking and feelings; build self-awareness; and develop strategies for calming, self-management, and problem-solving; and
  • Practices such as educator modeling, think-alouds, and metacognitive activities that make the development of cognitive, social, and emotional skills visible while conveying what is possible.