The Romsey School ‘Habits of Mind’
The whole school community has been through extensive consultation and reached an agreement to delineate what we believe to be effective Learning skills at The Romsey School. These skills (or ‘Habits of Mind’) are now written into our own bespoke ‘Language for Learning’. This language involves seven capacities: resilience, empathy, reflection, self-management, collaboration, curiosity and creativity. The key for our Habits of Mind is that all of these skills are learnable, and that all staff have a duty to teach all of our children how to further improve each of their Habits of Mind.
Having established this whole school agreement through extensive consultation from January 2014 onwards, we have then actively used this ‘Language for Learning’ with our pupils within three main areas of school life:
During 2015-16, our tutors spent at least one tutor time a week reflecting on pupils’ Habits of Mind through the medium of current issues and British Values with their tutees. The resources were provided by a senior member of staff to give consistency across the school.
Our rewards system has also been overhauled to include the Habits of Mind. When a credit is issued, staff refer to a Habit of Mind and give feedback as to which ‘Habit’ the student was using particularly well in order to ‘earn’ that credit. Similarly, students can now achieve Star Learner Awards during termly Achievement Assemblies . These are the most outstanding pupils who have really 'shone' and demonstrated excellence in their learning using any of our 'Habits of Mind' (collaboration, self-management, creativity, curiosity, resilience, reflection and empathy). They are given a 'Star Learner' award, having been nominated by their teachers.
The ‘Language of Learning’ is used frequently by all staff who lead assemblies and students have had individual assemblies on the Habits of Mind, explaining what they are and why they are important. For example, there was one assembly on the importance of making mistakes and learning from them using role models such as Michael Jordan to ‘tell the story’. The second Year Seven Primary Working Day is also devised around the Habits of Mind. Students are given a half hour workshop on each one so that they can gain a first-hand experience of that habit and thus gain an understanding of our school before they arrive in September.
Where appropriate, all our staff use the same Language for Learning with the pupils in their teaching, when giving feedback, during 1:1 mentoring/coaching conversations and when liaising with parents. The teaching side of this includes use of ‘split screen objectives’ so that the teacher explains not only the subject content that will be gained that lesson, but also the Habit(s) which will be developed. Teachers plan lessons to enhance specific capacities in the pupils and individual subjects have devised numerous systems to overtly refer to these habits during lessons (see examples below).
· Geography - KS3 homework portfolios link to the ‘Habits of Mind’ and student are given specific feedback on each
· Food Technology- Students are encouraged to work in teams during their practical lessons and after each one, year 7, 8 and 9 reflect on their practical process
· Textiles- Pupils are set creative homework tasks throughout each SOW. The SOW for all year groups builds on the creativity of each pupil when tackling a design brief
· Maths & Music– Teachers use the split screen objectives very effectively at the start of these lessons
Staff have been encouraged to use these techniques in their teaching, there have been several INSET days and departmental meetings dedicated to how to encourage the development of these capacities. Numerous support materials have been developed for (and by) staff on our ‘Virtual Learning Network’.
Our Habits of Mind are visible all over our school environment; from the front page of the planners, to the banners which greet students on their way into school. Every classroom displays the Habits of Mind in subject specific and sometimes very creative ways. The majority of handouts and resources given to pupils include the ‘Habits of Mind’ graphics in some way or other. From September 2016, there is a frieze running down the main corridor designed by pupils which reflects our seven habits of mind. These visuals are all designed to underline the importance of the Habits and show that we are all aiming for the same skills set, regardless of subject.
During 2016-17 academic year we are also having ‘Theme Days’ each half term where we leave the curriculum and (where possible) have a total focus on that Habit of Mind in creative and original ways during lessons, tutor time and at lunchtime/after school.
There is a lot that parents can do to enhance their children’s Habits of Mind, and we hope to work with you to seek practical strategies which will help with this. We invite all parents to school during the evening of March 1st to discuss the question ‘How can I improve my child’s learnability’ and in the meantime, please use our evolving links below for tips to help at home.
Our common understanding of the Habits of Mind are detailed further below.