How Habits of Mind Helped Keep Me A Little More Balanced


By Tyler Muth, Personalized Learning Facilitator

It’s been two weeks since we closed school because of the COVID-19 virus and like most educators, we self-reflect. So naturally, I felt the need to step back and reflect on how I’m managing this as a professional. Upon reflection of this past week and thinking about the aspect of not being in school for an extended amount of time, I feel lucky that for the past four years at Freedom School we have focused on using the Habits of Mind. I’ve never had to use so many habits of mind than this past week.

  • Taking Responsible Risks, Creating, Imagining, Innovating, and Thinking Flexibly: Having to take our content and reconfiguring it all so that it is accessible to all learners at home and creating learning boards that make sense to learners and parents.
  • Managing Impulsivity: I think back to what I tell my football players, “take care of the little things.” Start small then work out from there, don’t try and do too much or overwhelm yourself with things that are out of your control.
  • Listen & Understand with Empathy: In times like these you need to shift your focus to what is most important: faith, family, friends, learners. Most people around me are missing the structure, routines, and opportunities that make up their daily lives.
  • Thinking about Thinking: Coming up with a plan that makes sense and is accessible for all learners while they are learning at home. I find myself looking at problems and solutions from several angles to make sure that all needs are covered. And because I never see everything, my wife points out what I’ve missed as well. Now more than ever, learners’ needs are magnified and we as educators need to look at multiple and flexible solutions.
  • Questioning & Posing Problems: Generating questions, looking at a range of perspectives and circumstances to imagine what will work or not work as we continue to develop our district distance learning plan.
  • Responding with Wonderment & Awe: I am floored at the work of the educators, classified, staff, and administrators in the Harrisburg School District. The leadership, resilience, and grace that they have shown is awe-inspiring. I feel lucky to be a part of this district.
  • Thinking Interdependently: Working with grade level facilitators putting together our learning boards to ensure that our distance learning is organized to make sure our learners are successful during this.
  • Finding Humor: Because you have to in times like these….

As educators, we continue to demonstrate an unwavering GRIT. Life is TEN percent what happens to you, and NINETY percent how you respond…I’m focusing on the NINETY percent.


Tyler Muth has been an educator for thirteen years at Freedom School in Harrisburg, South Dakota. He spends much of his professional time focusing on how to reach learners that is best for THEIR learning with students spanning second through fifth grades. He also is an assistant varsity football and middle school track coach

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