Habits of Mind School Certification

Since the 1980’s it is a well-established fact that knowledge and skills that lead to social power, networks, and rewards have been advantaged to some social classes and not others. We must include opportunities for our students to develop their social power through developing a voice for interaction with people in power positions. They must learn how to create and use networks to leverage their position for employment. Their curriculum must include communication and presentation skills. They must learn how to develop their innovative ideas, become problem solvers and use the Habits of Mind to become effective thinkers.

Furr High School is an invitational school where people are trusting, inclusive, respectful, intentional, and caring. Programs provide a system of care that addresses the academic, social, physical and emotional needs of students. Our places of learning have no boundaries. Our processes are collaborative, current, and dedicated to preparing our students for the 21st century and beyond.

The Habits of Mind are deeply embedded in our practices. Some examples are:

Signs and signals in the environment
An artist designed graphics on the walls of the school representing each of the Habits. As you walk up the stairs, down the hallways, and in the classrooms, you are reminded of the Habits. Many bulletin boards and show cases focus on examples of student work with associated recognition of the Habits.

Emphasizing Habits for new hires

Every person who is applying for a job with Furr High School is asked a set of questions that are reflective of the Habits of Mind. In addition to being asked what they know about HOM, they are given some problem statements and asked what they might do to reconcile the problem. Each problem has, at the heart of it, recognition of a Habit. For example, the person is asked to give an example of when they use humor. They are asked, if a student were not willing to stay with a task, what would they do? The interview focuses on the individual’s ability to problem solve and build relationships with students.

Using the Habits as a part of restorative justice
The school designed a Thinkery in which students are either sent or volunteer to go to a special room where a guidance counselor is available. All people who are involved with the problem are present (for example, a student might be having a problem with a teacher and both student and teacher are there. A student might have been fighting with another student over a girlfriend—all parties involved are there). The Habits of Mind are prominently displayed and the counselor starts the mediated conversation with listening with understanding and empathy as their ground rule. They then proceed to listen to one another and attend to the various perspectives, thinking flexibly. At the end, they are all asked to look at the Habits and see which might be most helpful for them to work on to avoid the same problem occurring in the future. The concept of restorative justice is to restore the offending party back into the learning community through a process of reasoning and commitment to change. The Habits are a critical part of this process.

Parental Meetings
Parents are invited to attend meetings with members of the faculty during the school day. The meetings are bi-lingual and the Habits are provided in both English and Spanish. As the meeting progresses, the Habits are referred to in relation to issues and concerns.

Principal’s Court
The principal holds a court in which students appear based on behavior that must be addressed. The principal always uses the language of the Habits and students are reminded, as appropriate, about the need to develop the Habits.

Infused into classrooms
Classroom teachers all have the Habits posted in their classrooms. The AVID program uses the Habits extensively as does the PE program.

Disciplinary Actions with the Assistant Principal
The Assistant Principal, formerly the PE instructor and AVID coordinator, is immersed in the Habits and uses them regularly as a part of any disciplinary actions.


Three Year Plan

The Habits of Mind have been deeply embedded in the Furr High School culture. In 2017, there will be a new high school building called Furr Institute for Innovative Thinking. Our design includes personalizing learning with the Habits of Mind at the core of students becoming self-directed learners. Over the next three years we intend to:
• Increase our attention to professional development around the Habits
• Find ways to embed the Habits in our unit and pathway plans
• Continue to improve our work with restorative justice
• Continue to communicate and make presentations about our work with the Habits as we are invited to speak nationally
• Make certain that our new school has a strong graphic representation of the Habits throughout
• We will use our community groups as well as our school based groups, including students, to regularly monitor our commitment to the Habits.

A Process
Committing to a Process
of Continuous Growth
The Habits of Mind School is a commitment to a journey of continuous growth, not a status to be achieved.


The aim of becoming a Habits of Mind Learning Community of Excellence is to encourage greater thoughtfulness in schools and educational institutions around the world by offering an Institute for Habits of Mind Award to schools that embrace the Habits of Mind throughout their community and have made a deep commitment to continuous learning and growth.
A Habits of Mind Learning Community is a place where all inhabitants value, display and seek to deepen the Habits of Mind. Evidence may be found in classroom instruction, curriculum design and throughout the school’s physical environment and culture. Parents, care givers, teachers, students, school leaders, learning assistants, library staff and everybody involved in the school community will use the language of the habits, be committed to the deepening, advocating and sustaining Habits of Mind over the long term. In a Habits of Mind Learning Community practitioners would undertake monitoring strategies and action research to gather evidence, to study and learn from the effects of their efforts. School leadership personnel would make a clear commitment to model the habits in their own work and facilitate the Habits of Mind to become the norms of the organization.
The purpose of this resource is to guide the commitment building process among a school staff and its community to the growth that leads to certification as an International Habits of Mind Learning Community of Excellence by the Institute for Habits of Mind. Working with a representative of the Institute for Habits of Mind, it provides suggestions for mileposts along the journey, criteria and indicators for making judgments about progress, examples of what other schools have done, suggestions for self-assessment, and invitations to plan growth strategies for continual improvement.

This award is not intended for those new to the HOM. Rather, each aspiring school will be expected to have developed, embedded and sustained the Habits of Mind for a sufficient period of time to realize the benefits of the Habits of Mind and to make a commitment to expand, deepen, and learn more about the power of the Habits of Mind.
If you are interested in having your school become an IHOM Learning Community, you are invited to contact [email protected]
IHOM Certification fees: Prior to certification, an on site visit by an IHOM representative/Affiliate Director to guide, support and assist. The cost will not exceed USD$2500.00 plus travel expenses. This fee and visit can be waived if the school has actively been engaged with the IHOM, including an on site visit with the year prior to certification.
IHOM Certification fees: USD$1000.00 good for 3 years and renewable with review.

Envisioning a Habits of Mind Learning Community
Staff and school community reviews the vision of the Habits of Mind Learning Community in Appendix C of the book, Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind. It is included below as a resource in developing and creating a three year plan to mark progress and most importantly envision the future growth and development in HOM.

The staff self-assesses where they are now in the journey toward their vision and what the staff hopes to accomplish over the next three years in achieving their vision. A short and long-range continuous growth plan of action including benchmarks and timelines would be developed to move the staff and community toward that vision. The document should be endorsed by staff members and the extended school community. The outcome of this step is a 3-year action plan. The school is encouraged to capture the history with HOM and map out the three year continuous growth in a way that represents the spirit of the school. IHOM encourages creating, imagining and innovating during this process.


We are often asked, “How would you know when and if the Habits of Mind have been infused?” We usually respond by saying that we’d know it when there is a “harmony of heart and mind”: when it is mindfully infused throughout the curriculum, instructional practices, assessment strategies, the people in and the culture of the schools– not just a Habits of Mind school but truly a “mindful school” dedicated to improving society. There is implementation fidelity in evidence. Furthermore, we believe this is never-ending journey towards infusion rather than a status to be achieved. It becomes a “way of being” rather than a “thing to do.” Those are pretty general statements.

As you answer these questions, you will be thinking at two levels:
1. What are we already doing?
2. What would we like to do over the next 3 years to strengthen our school’s commitment to the Habits of Mind?

Answering those two questions will form your proposal for certification. If you like, the Institute can provide coaching, consultation, and support throughout the process. We have many skillful educators who can work with you.

The following are categories we defined to help with your thinking. You may come up with some new categories. Please feel free to be innovative with this form.

1. All the inhabitants of the school
• In what ways are the staff, students, and parents:
• Using the Habits of Mind language in their communications?
• Finding new ways to expand the Habits of Mind in a variety of settings?
• Valuing the Habits of Mind for all of the members of the learning community?

2. Classroom Instruction
• In what ways are the classrooms:
• Teaching the Habits of Mind intentionally?
• Focusing on being alert to situation in which the Habits of Mind can be practiced, valued, illuminated, and reflected upon?
• Use tools and resources to deepen understanding of the Habits of Mind?

3. Curriculum Design
• In what ways is curriculum designed to:
• Weave Habits of Mind into units and lessons?
• Build a thorough line of how Habits of Mind develop over multiple years?
• Include the Habits of Mind as stated goals and outcomes for students?

4. School Culture
• In what ways are the Habits of Mind:
• Recognized when they are performed?
• Recognized in the environment with signs and signals such as posters, slogans, etc.?

5. Parents and Community
• In what ways are parents and community:
• Continuously informed about their student’s progress with HOM?
• Oriented to the vision of the school and the meaning and commitment to HOM?

6. Action Research
• In what ways does the school:
• Inform their practices with HOM?
• Collect evidence of longitudinal growth?
• Continue their study of the Habits of Mind?
• Communicate with others as they learn more about the HOM?

7. Leading Learning
• In what ways does the school:
• Distribute leadership among staff members so that they are supporting and championing the HOM?
• Provide resources such as time, opportunities for collaboration, and finances to support their vision?
• Expect all leaders to model the HOM?

Based on (Appendix C, in Costa, A and Kallick, B. (2009) Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind 16 Characteristics of Success. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Year 2016

Year 2017

Year 2018


  1. Teacher training for each HOM and lesson delivery is conducted over 3 separate days.
  2. Parent involvement kit is an activity based kit to get parents to work alongside their children in a task designed to explore meaning and build capacity of that habit. For example in Gathering Data Using All Senses, the kit might ask the parent to get their child to help prepare a meal together and to describe the process in all sensorial aspects. In persisting, the kit might include an origami piece that the child has to practice with persistence.
  3. The HOM affirmation system is a coloured ball system where students are encouraged to vote for their friends in their class for a HOM they observe is being practiced. Classes will see the coloured balls build up over a period of time.

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