Reflections from Katie: October 5, 2018

At Cambridgeport we have two guiding documents that we bring into our work with children throughout the school – the Cambridgeport Core Values and the Cambridgeport Habits of Mind. The Core Values are: Be Kind, Be Responsible, Be Reflective, and Aim High. These core values were brought to life by a group of families, teachers and administrators in 2008, and continue to guide us today. The Habits of Mind are: Think Flexibly, Persevere to Understanding, Analyze and Interpret, Construct and Critique Arguments, and Seek Out Challenge. These Habits of Mind were generated by the Instructional Leadership Team and Cambridgeport school staff during the 2014-2015 school year.  

Our core values and our habits of mind are both critical in the work we do with children, but  what is the difference between them? A simple way to put the difference is this: core values are ways of being while habits of mind are ways of thinking. Core values represent the ways we want our children to be both within the school community and beyond. Be kind—this is not just something we teach as a concept, but rather something we hope to embody as a staff and a community. We strive to model this core value by enacting it, pointing it out, lifting it up and celebrating it. Be responsible—this is not just about picking up after oneself, or putting the crayons away. We strive to model the notion that we take responsibility for our actions and we see that our actions have impact beyond the immediate. This is a big idea that, again, we can point out when children are doing it, share our own moments of living it, and celebrate when our community takes responsibility. These core values, along with ‘be reflective’ and ‘aim high’ represent the kinds of people we are always striving to be.

Habits of mind are the ways of thinking that we bring into the classroom on a daily basis. We use these 5 habits of mind across the day so we can help students see the connections between what they are doing in science and in math or connections between writing and science. The habits of mind are ways of thinking that we may need to be more explicit about teaching rather than just pointing out or celebrating. While it may be enough to celebrate being kind (a core value) and thus have it live in our community, celebrating thinking flexibly (a habit of mind) is probably not enough on its own. We also need to teach children how to think flexibly and give them opportunities to practice thinking flexibly.

Are there connections and overlap between the core values and the habits of mind? Absolutely! And while we may take moments in time to highlight or teach one particular habit of mind or core value this doesn’t mean that others aren’t also at play in that very moment.  

Both the habits of mind and the core values are most at play when you talk with your children about them on a regular basis at home. This helps them see that these are important beyond the walls of school. We invite you to explore this language with your children as a way of building a bridge between home and school.  
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