Each of these six categories of behavioral skills are essential to success in school, college, career and life. Do we prioritize, model, teach, and nurture these skills within our teaching and learning experiences?
Precognitive self-regulation: Students can attain, maintain, regulate, and change their level of arousal for a task or situation. Educators may observe that students have difficulty coping emotionally and may determine that these difficulties are impacted by poor health, nutrition, and sleep; or lack of exercise; or sensitive to sensory inputs; or an ability to process inputs. These abilities are dependent on, and related to, physiological and safety needs as defined within five-tiered theory of motivation.
Mindsets: Students feel a sense of belonging, belief, and engagement. Affirmative responses to the following statements represent a positive, growth mindset:
- “I belong in this academic community.” Educators know that students are connected to someone and something within the school.
- “My ability and competence grow with my effort.” Educators observe that students believe that they can improve with effort; that smart is something that you become, not something that you are.
- “I can succeed at this.” Educators know that success breeds success and that meeting students where they are and nudging them toward greater levels of proficiency is key; students draw on a sense of self-efficacy to persist in learning.
- “This work has value for me.” Educators know that motivation is dependent on the relevance that students see in classrooms; students have opportunities to explore passions, they see the purpose in learning, and they experience personalized supports and opportunities for personalized paths.
Social skills: Student have respectful interactions with others and demonstrate respect for themselves. Educators observe students cooperating and collaboratively in socially appropriate ways and behaving with empathy for others in both academic and social circumstances.
Learning strategies: Students can regulate, monitor, and reflect on their learning. Educators see students employing effective study and organizational skills, behaving metacognitively, tracking their own progress, and responding appropriately when faced with a task, whether the task is completing an in-class assignment, completing a long-term project, or preparing for a test. Learning strategies can be thought of as cognitive self-regulation; students regulate the level of their learning frequently and make the necessary adjustments.
Perseverance: Students maintain effort and adapt to set-backs; they exercise self-discipline and self-control; they delay gratification; and they advocate for one’s needs. Educators observe that students stick-with-it, typically because they are drawing on positive mindsets, social skills, and learning strategies.
Academic behaviors: Students are physically, emotionally, and cognitively present and attentive within learning and learning environments. Educators note that students consistently complete tasks of high-quality; that they actively participate in learning; and that they appear motivation to learn, succeed, and grow. Again, educators’ observations of academic behaviors typically draw on, and depend on positive mindsets, social skills, learning strategies, and perseverance, the companion behavioral skills in the diagram above.
Defining behavioral skills within the context these categories framework is helpful because the framework then becomes an action plan. We can operationalize the research, putting the best thinking of these experts into action and actively supporting students in developing skills and proactively supports students when difficulties exist.