Modeling Habits of Mind


Imitation and emulation are the most basic forms of learning. Teachers, parents, and administrators realize the importance of their own display of desirable Habits of Mind in the presence of learners. In the day-to-day events and when problems arise in schools, classrooms, and homes, children must see the significant adults employing the Habits of mind.  Without this consistency, there is likely to be a credibility gap.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson is often quoted as saying:

 “What you do speaks so loudly, they can’t hear what you say.”



“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Mahatma Ghandi


“You can’t talk your way out of what you’ve behaved yourself into.”

Steven Covey


“To teach is to learn twice.”

Joseph Joubert


“Let the beauty you love be what you do.”

Jelaluddin Rumi


“Learning though imitation is fundamental to many species, including  humans.

As we become adults, we have a unique advantage: we can choose whom to imitate.

We can also choose new models to replace the ones we outgrow.”

Michael J. Gelb


“A loving person lives in a loving world.

A hostile person lives in a hostile world.

Everyone you meet is your mirror.”

Ken Keyes Jr., author


“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”

Robert Fulghum


“If your walking isn’t your preaching, there is no point in walking anywhere to preach.”

St. Francis of Assisi


“I have never heard anything about the resolutions of the apostles but a good deal about their acts.”

Horace Mann


“Live as if you like yourself, and it may happen.”

Marge Piercy


“Act so as to elicit the best in others and thereby in thyself.”

Felix Adler


“It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.”

Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity


“If . . . you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.”

Catherine Aird


“The way you behave is the way you’ll be judged.”



“Keep in mind always the present you are constructing. It should be the future you want.”

Alice Walker


“Our worth is determined by the good deeds we do, rather than by the fine emotions we feel.”

Elias L. Magoon


“…. If real success is to attend the effort to bring a man to a definite position,

one must first of all take the pains to find him where he is and begin there.

This is the secret of the heart of helping others.

Anyone who has not mastered this is himself deluded when he proposes to help others.

In order to help another effectively, I must understand what he understands.

If I do not know that, my greater understanding will be of no help to him.

If, however, I am disposed to plume myself on my greater understanding, it is because I am vain or proud, so that at bottom, instead of benefiting him, I want to be admired.

But all true effort to help does not mean to be a sovereign but to be a servant, that to help does not mean to be ambitious but to be patient, that to help means to endure for the time being the imputation that one is in the wrong and does not understand what the other understands…  For to be a teacher does not mean simply to affirm that such a thing is so, or to deliver a lecture, etc.

No, to be a teacher in the right sense is to be a learner.  Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner, put yourself in his place so that you may understand what he understands and in the way he understands it….”

Soren Kierkegaard


“See the good…  BE the good.”

Peggy Moretti


“If you cannot mould yourself as you would wish, how can you expect other people to be entirely to your liking?”

Thomas Kempis


“Live your life so that your children can tell their children that you not only stood for something wonderful—you acted on it.”

Dan Zadra, CEO Compendium, Inc.


“People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.”

Lewis Cass


“Children have more need of models than of critics.”

Carolyn Coats, author


“To think is easy. To act is hard.

But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.”

Johann von Goethe


“The smartest thing that a person can do is to persistently think the thoughts that are consistent with the kind of person he or she would like to be.”

Brian Tracy, author


“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

Andrew Carnegie


“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.”

Carl Jung


“Parents who use good communication skills are, at the same time, teaching their children to use good skills.

When parents use angry or hostile words, their children do too.

Often parents cause the very behaviors they don’t want in their children.

In short, they reap what they sow.”

Joe Hasenstab, President of Performance Learning Systems


“To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while.”

Josh Billings


“I talk and talk and talk, and I haven’t taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week.”

Mario Cuomo


“Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.”

Edmund Burke


“Doing what we were meant to do creates fun, excitement and contentment in our lives, and invariably, in the lives of the people around us. When you’re excited about something it’s contagious.”

Mark Victor Hansen, author and speaker


“Parents can tell but never teach, unless they practice what they preach.”

Arnold Glasow


“I never perceive of myself as a hero of any kind.  I’m just a baseball player.

But if you are in a position to influence people’s lives, why not do all you can to cast it in a positive light.”

Cal Ripken Jr.


“Peace is not achieved by controlling nations, but mastering our thoughts.”

John Harricharan, author


“Be big: Think big. Act big. Dream big.”

Conrad Hilton


“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Mahatma Gandhi


“Example has more followers than reason.”

Christian Nevell Bovee,  author and lawyer


“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.”

Albert Einstein


“I want to be a good person and live my life the right way, keeping in mind that there might be a little kid who’s watching what I do.”

Rebecca Lobo, U.S. Olympic basketball player


“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

James Baldwin


“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”

John Cotton Dana, Librarian and museum director


“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Dalai Lama


“We write our own destiny; we become what we do.”

Soong May-ling, Chinese political leader


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