Habits of Lifelong Learners

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Research shows that exceptional professionals in the field of education are those with the habit of developing and refining their craft (Darling-Ham­mond, 2017). Educators know that the field is a liv­ing, changing, vibrant place, and in order to serve all students, they must continue to strengthen their practice throughout their career through learning. To create lifelong learners in students, educators must model the habit of learning for them by dis­cussing professional books, activities, or courses they are participating in. By doing so, educators create a channel of communication around the importance of ongoing development and learning, demonstrate important social and academic com­petencies such as perseverance, and create the con­ditions that lead to increased student achievement.

Sharing What We’re Learning

One of the guiding principles of the Responsive Classroom approach is that great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction. Having students share their learning in structured formats is critical to increasing students’ success in connecting with and retaining the acquired information. Another way that we can build in opportunities for students to learn through social interaction is by leading dis­cussions about our own learning.

When choosing to share some of your information with students that is pertinent to what you are working on, you model for students that you too are continuing to develop and that you are also working on some­thing. There may be instances when you can even enlist students to provide you feedback: “In a course I am taking, the importance of pausing before taking an answer was shared with me. This is something I want to work on, so I am going to ask a question and then pause for 10 seconds before taking a volunteer to share a response.” Then, at the end of the lesson you might ask, “Give me a thumbs up, sideways, or down—how did I do at remem­bering to pause after asking a question?”

Modeling Social Competencies

Students believe that their teachers are naturally good at everything they demon­strate during the day. Bringing in a book related to a content area or topic or dis­cussing with students a course or book you are reading for learning purposes can model for students how you are tap­ping into your growth mindset and build­ing competencies, such as perseverance. These discussions can encompass both professional and personal development, as is relatable and appropriate for your stu­dents. For example, explaining to students that you have been working on a new cake decorating technique that took you four times to get right highlights the impor­tance of perseverance. Sharing what you did between tries to learn and practice provides a model for students to try when they experience a challenge and must en­gage problem-solving skills. Similarly, in telling students about how you researched, took a class, and practiced the technique (like writing multiple drafts), you are teaching students how you implemented learning strategies that they can imme­diately apply to their own experiences.

Creating Conditions for Increased Student Achievement

When applying your newly learned prac­tices and strategies to the classroom or school setting, you are also creating con­ditions for increased student achievement by emphasizing the importance of ongoing learning. Students observe you learning about areas of interest in your personal life and honing your craft in your professional life, and that exposure illustrates for stu­dents that a career requires work and focus. In addition, you are modeling for students other important skills that they will need in school and in their own careers—speaking to others, answering questions, learning strategies, growth mindset, reflecting on progress, and persevering, and the list can continue on past those highlighted here.

To become contributing community mem­bers, it is critical that students understand that learning is essential to success. Taking time to nurture your own learning through professional development, and sharing it with the students you work with, will cultivate lifelong learners who will seek opportunities to expand their knowledge, skills, and mindsets for the better.


  • Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M., & Gardner, M. (2017). Effective teacher professional development. Retrieved from https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/effective-teacher-professional-development-report