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    An 'Essential' School

    As a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES), the teaching philosophy at Riverdale School District is guided by 10 Common Principles: 

    1. Learning to use one's mind well
    2. Less is more: Depth over coverage
    3. Goals apply to all students
    4. Personalization
    5. Student-as-worker, teacher-as-coach
    6. Demonstration of mastery
    7. A tone of decency and trust
    8. Commitment to the entire school
    9. Resources dedicated to teaching and learning
    10. Democracy and equity


    Read more about each principle.

Habits of Mind

  • We lean on the benchmarks of the Coalition of Essential Schools as we continue to improve our school culture and practices, including the Habits of Mind. Habits of Mind, Heart and Work are ways to articulate the type of thinking and emotional dispositions that help students develop their social-emotional intelligence and succeed in school and life. 

    As explained by expert Arthur L. Costa, "Educational outcomes in traditional settings focus on how many answers a student knows. When we teach for the Habits of Mind, we are interested also in how students behave when they don't know an answer."

    He asks: What behaviors indicate an efficient, effective thinker? What do human beings do when they behave intelligently? Vast research suggests that effective thinkers and peak performers have identifiable characteristics, referred to as the Habits of Mind, which can be taught, cultivated, observed and assessed. We want students to learn how to develop a critical stance with their work: inquiring, editing, thinking flexibly and learning from another person's perspective.

    The Habits of Mind are performed in response to questions and problems, the answers to which are not immediately known. Each Habit of Mind is a pattern of intellectual behaviors that leads to productive actions. In essence, a composite of many skills, attitudes, cues, past experiences and proclivities that help determine how best to react to a particular situation with which one is faced.

    To learn more about developing the Habits of Mind and a Growth Mindset, consider reading “Mindset” by Carol Dweck and “Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind” by Arthur L. Costa and Benna Kallick.