Wow! What a way to end a week.
On Friday we taught them a memory strategy that uses location memory to anchor their learning. Once the students realized that they had just learned the elements of the periodic table, their atomic number and symbol, many of them were so excited about their learning experience they jumped on top of their chairs and were cheering.
On Saturday morning we did an activity called the Maze. It is a team activity done in silence. I was moved by watching your students work together with people they normally would not ‘hang out’ with. Many of the more quiet and reserved students stepped up as leaders and gained respect in the eyes of their peers. They were a team, working together – regardless of race, gender or social status.
One staff member shared with me that needed to approach small groups of students to get them to stop talking on many occasions. As they reached the students who were talking they noticed the students were actually talking about how they were going to apply the things they learned back in their classrooms and on the TAKS.
At one point, we were eliciting positive words and phrases people have said to us at some point in our lives. As the students were sharing their responses, one young man quietly mentioned to me that no one had ever said those kind of things to him. After about a minute of more student responses, this young man came to a profound realization. He shifted his body language as he looked at me and said with sheer commitment, “I need to get me some new friends.”
As you know, many of your students work at least part-time jobs. I was so impressed that many of them had worked a late night shift on Friday night (some of them working up till 2 am), and still showed up early Saturday morning eager to learn more.
At the end of the last day, we gave the students the opportunity to share their thoughts and learnings about the program. One freshman girl hesitantly walked to the front of the room and sat in front of 60 of her peers. With tears streaming down her face she shared how impactful the past 3 days had been on her – not just in helping her do better in school, but mostly just for life. Her peers listened with respect as she shared her gratitude for being able to attend this program and excitement to use it in her life.
On Thursday morning before the students arrived, we were talking amongst ourselves about some of the more memorable student programs we have done over the years. One of your teachers overheard us talking about a specific program I worked at where the students were so engaged and excited about the experience they were having that they told their friends, who did not even attend the school. The next day of the program, we had multiple students show up and ask if they could participate. The teacher who overheard us recounting this story made a comment to the effect of “That would never happen at Wagner.” The teacher then shared with us a story of what happened recently at Wagner when a presenter left earlier than planned because of their unpleasant experience working with your students. The teacher’s intentions were pure. It was actually helpful information in our final preparations for the students’ arrival. And it made our last day there at Wagner all the more memorable when a few unfamiliar faces showed up early on a Saturday morning asking if they could join the program, at least for just an hour or two.
We feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to work with your students at Wagner. They are an incredible group of youth, with tremendous potential. Thank you for reminded us why we love to wake up many mornings in a hotel room in cities far from home.
Sending lots of positive thoughts to you and your students on TAKS test day,
Liesl (and the rest of the Quantum Learning staff)
Thank you so much for the kind words. They meant a bunch! I know the students had a great time and are still talking about their experiences. You all have such a GIFT to do what you do. It’s wonderful you all have the ability to share so much positive energy with kids around the nation! We hope to send a dozen teachers to the QL workshop in the summer so hopefully I’ll squeeze myself in there to learn more of the strategies.
Thanks again for everything!!! Best of luck, success, peace and love in all your endeavors.
Wagner High School