Habits of mind refers to ways of approaching learning that are both intellectual and practical and that will support students’ success in a variety of fields and disciplines.”

Kathleen Blake Yancy, “Attempting the Impossible: Designing a First- Year Composition Course”
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Kathleen Blake Yancey, author of the article, “Attempting the Impossible: Designing a First-Year Composition Course“, makes a very valid claim when she discusses habits of learning in the classroom. Students, in order to learn properly, need to have a solid foundation and support system in the classroom. As teachers, we need to promote a healthy, structured learning environment that keeps students interested and engaged (at least students that want to learn in these spaces). To facilitate success and support, Yancey points out eight habits she feels are imperative to have in the classroom. These eight habits are:

  • Curiosity—the desire to know more about the world.
  • Openness—the willingness to consider new ways of being and thinking in the world. Engagement—a sense of investment and involvement in learning.
  • Creativity—the ability to use novel approaches for generating, investigating, and representing ideas.
  • Persistence—the ability to sustain interest in and attention to short- and long-term projects. Responsibility—the ability to take ownership of one’s actions and understand the consequences of those actions for oneself and others.
  • Flexibility—the ability to adapt to situations, expectations, or demands.
  • Metacognition—the ability to reflect on one’s own thinking as well as on the individual

Key Terms and Language

courtesy of Giphy.com

“The language mattered” according to Yancey when discuss how adolescents learned. She points out that the use of key terms and the repetitive usage of those key terms, helped build their vocabulary enough to understand/comprehend and use/reenact these terms when necessary. The same can be said in the writing classroom. For example, students know the term essay from the many usages and examples in classrooms beyond their first college composition course. However, the term “rhetorical analysis” is a term and assignment they are unfamiliar with. In other words, that key term is unknown until entering a FYC classroom. As FYC teachers, it’s up to us to teach them that term and the key terms used in the assignment in order for them to be successful and understand how it works and how it can be applied outside of the classroom.

(Here are some sample Key terms!)

Putting it all Together

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In the FYC classrooms, it’s our jobs as future instructors to facilitate a space that produces solid and valuable learning. We must provide the space for them to learn how to do proper research and fact gathering, teach them concepts that help put these facts together, practice using these skills and the terms, then focus on revising the information and content in order to successfully write in the classroom and prepare for the next lesson on improving writing (Yancey). This is made possible by allowing students time, space, and safety within the classroom. In other words, and Yancey puts this in a very useful context, we can’t overload students with assignments and readings. We must provide work that holds value and weight that gives them time to digest and reflect on what’s happening in order to contextualize it for themselves. As for us as instructors, we must show students that we are learning with them and that we are in this with them. Therefore, allowing for a union and mutual understanding, hopefully, between us and our students when interacting in the classroom.


  1. How can we, and do we, establish a classroom that teaches students the skills of writing?
  2. Do you plan on including supplemental work and, if so, how do you plan on implementing supplement work?


“Creating a Welcoming Learning Environment.” Creating a Welcoming Learning Environment | College STAR, www.collegestar.org/modules/creating-a-welcoming-learning-environment.

First-Year Composition (Lauer Series in Rhetoric and Composition) . Parlor Press, LLC. Kindle Edition.

Key Terms & Concepts, global.oup.com/us/companion.websites/0195178793/studentresources/chapters/ch04/glossary/.