Letter to Colleagues by Marlen

July 30, 2022


Letter to Colleagues

Dear Ms. De Los Santos:

Last month, I participated in a professional learning experience with LUTE-STEM at Lehman College. I learned a lot about Multimodal Literacy, Habits of Mind, the Descriptive Review of a Child Protocol, and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. 

There was a lot to think about and consider about how to apply in the classroom, and in this letter, I’d like to focus on Habits of Mind because this approach helps me to learn and develop thinking skills that I need to apply in unfamiliar situations. According to Art Costa, Bena Kallick, and Allison Zmuda, Habits of Mind are dispositions people use when confronted with problems and situations to which the answers are not immediately apparent. While completing different activities and applying the Habits of Mind, I learned to consider other people’s points of view, listen with understanding and empathy, think flexibly, communicate with clarity and precision, and apply previous knowledge and thinking about my thinking. Habits of Minds are skills that apply to teachers and students. We must teach students how to be more flexible, consider and respect classmates’ ideas and reflect on their thoughts. It will be effective because we will create a learning environment where all students feel valued and respected. All classrooms should develop an inclusive environment where all students feel welcome. 

I would like to propose that we can implement in the annual curriculum restorative circles that will be conducted on Mondays or Fridays. During the circles, students will be able to speak their minds and heart out, share personal and academic stories, and give feedback and comment to each other. During the activity, students will be applying the Habits of Mind as they will be flexible, reflecting, listening, and communicating with empathy, questioning and posing problems, etc.

To do this, we will need the participation, collaboration, and willingness of all the students. We will need to set a community agreement and create a space for the students to feel safe and comfortable. We will need to ensure confidentiality and respect. Our activity will give a social-emotional approach. We will need weekly materials to read, such as the Habits of Mind article, and maybe a voice recording as an option for those students who might feel uncomfortable taking turns to speak aloud.

The students will be making a connection with each other stories and feelings. They will choose the topics of their preference to discuss during the circle and they will compose the community agreement. Also, I propose that during the academic year, we take the students outside the classroom to develop the restorative circle in different places.

When the students complete this activity they will have made progress on these three standards from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL); the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages.

  • Connections: Connect with other disciplines and acquire information and diverse perspectives to use the language to function in academic and career-related situations.
    • Making Connections: Learners build, reinforce, and expand their knowledge of other disciplines while using the language to develop critical thinking and solve problems creatively.
    • Acquiring Information and Diverse Perspectives: Learners access and evaluate information and diverse perspectives that are available through the language and its cultures.
  • Communication: Communicate effectively in more than one language to function in a variety of situations and for multiple purposes.
    • Interpersonal Communication: Learners interact and negotiate meaning in spoken, signed, or written conversations to share information, reactions, feelings, and opinions.
    • Interpretive Communication: Learners understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, or viewed on a variety of topics.
    • Presentational Communication: Learners present information, concepts, and ideas to inform, explain, persuade, and narrate on a variety of topics using appropriate media and adapting to various audiences of listeners, readers, or viewers.
  • Communities: Communicate and interact with cultural competence to participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world.
    • School and Global Communities: Learners use the language both within and beyond the classroom to interact and collaborate in their community and the globalized world.
    • Lifelong Learning: Learners set goals and reflect on their progress in using languages for enjoyment, enrichment, and advancement.

Here’s how I think we might introduce this activity. We could give these directions to the students:


  • The student will be able to connect and feel empathy
  • The student will be able to analyze life situations

Do Now / Anticipatory Set

  • Share a personal story with the class
  • Define/explain the cultural significance 

Benchmark Lesson

  •  “Persisting” (Habits of Mind) 

Guided Practice (in a class circle):

  • Read paragraph (students annotate)
  • Review with class (teacher asks probing questions as students summarize)
  • Answer the following question by completing the task in verbal form. 

   -Why persistence is important? 

Independent Practice: Each student will independently complete the guided practice activity.

Closure:  Share your biggest learning of the day. 

I would also propose that the students give each other feedback on their work. They could use this checklist to self-assess and give each other feedback:

  • I can listen with understanding 
  • I can be flexible 
  • I can think about my thinking 
  • I can think and communicate with clarity
  • I can be creative, imaginary, and innovating

This activity should take at least 45 to complete, which should allow time for productive struggle. To encourage persistence, I think we might save time at the end of each section for the students to express the biggest learning of the day. 

When they have finished this activity, it would be great if we could ask the students to write and talk about how they used one of these two Habits of Mind.

  • Finding Humor
  • Responding with wonderment and awe 

I will also use these Habits of Mind to give the students both written and oral feedback while they are working and once they finish their work!

Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. I hope you see how valuable this activity could be for our students. Please let me know if you have any revisions that I might consider for this activity. I look forward to working with you on this.