Alicia’s Teaching Philosophy

Alicia Carroll was one of the founding teachers of the Mission Hill School in Boston with Deborah Meier. As a result, her teaching philosophy is influenced by the Habits of Mind and Work  that she helped develop at the Mission Hill School.


Deborah Meier with a student. You can learn more about this education pioneer on her website.

Habits of Mind

The Habits of Mind is a pedagogical framework that is used by the Mission Hill School to define what it means to be a well-educated person. These Habits of Mind help students to seek knowledge through good inquiry skills (key questions) and by addressing both the academic and non-academics realms (tools/methods). The important thing to remember is that none of the habits are independent from each other.

  1. Evidence: How do we know what’s true and false? What evidence counts? How sure can we be? What makes it credible to us? Methods: Scientific Method, Design Cycle
  2. Viewpoint: How else might this look like if we stepped into other shoes? If we were looking at it from a different direction? If we had a different history or expectation? Methods: empathy and imagination
  3. Cause and Effect: Is there a pattern? Have we seen something like this before? What are the possible consequences? Methods: research, historical knowledge, Scientific Method
  4. ConjectureWhat if…? Could it have been otherwise? Methods:  imagination; knowledge of alternative possibilities; other Habits of Mind 
  5. Relevance: Does it matter? Who cares?


Habits of Work

Along with the Habits of Mind are Habits of Work. These are concerned with “doing” than “ability” (just like with physics, converting from potential energy to kinetic). The best way to evaluate students’ knowledge is to see if they use the habits correctly in their work.

  1. Forethought: Thinking ahead and planning. What will the work look like? How might this affect others? How will I complete this task with the resources available to me.
  2. Perseverance: Sticking to the task, even when it is challenging. When is my work due? What do I need to complete my task? What models, tools, or strategies will help me complete my work? Who will I work with?
  3. Production: Creating something that demonstrates what you know or have learned. What can I create with my hands, my body or my voice that shows my application or learning through practice of a skill or concept? What can I create with my hands, my body or my voice that shows what I can accomplish? Who will I work with?
  4. Reflection: Thinking about the work; pondering. What did I learn? What skill did I practice or improve? What am I proud of? What will change about my work next time? What will I seek help in for improvement? Who will I ask for feedback?