Posts Tagged 8 keys of excellence
Here at Quantum Learning, the 8 Keys of Excellence are at the core of everything we do. Today, we are going to focus on Flexibility. What does flexibility mean to you? How can being flexible help in the classroom, with co-workers, and in your personal life? We had our own discussion on Flexibility last week, and wanted to share some thoughts with you.
How do you feel when you get a right answer? Do you feel excited? The answer is more than likely yes. This is due to the fact that when we are right, our brain sends out dopamine. This makes us feel happy, and a craving to feel that emotion again—so we want to be right as often as we can. The more dopamine your brain sends out, the more you want to feel the emotion again. In a sense, you get addicted. But can you get this “high” being flexible?
We define Flexibility as:
Be willing to do things diﬀerently. Recognize what’s not working and be willing to change what you’re doing to achieve your goal.
- Take a Step Back
Sometimes you just need to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation. Does the situation mean more to the person you are arguing with than yourself? Take a step back and ask yourself, “Do I have to get my way?” If on a scale of 1-10 (10 being extremely important) if this situation is a 3 to you, and the person you are talking to feels it is a 10, then maybe they should get their way.
We learn at a young age to play well with others. Are you doing this? We all know we can’t always get our own way, but this doesn’t mean you wouldn’t mind if you did. Compromising is a great way to practice flexibility, and help move everyone involved forward.
- Assessing the Situation
The definition many use for insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. For example, if you set your alarm clock for the same time every morning but you still don’t get up—how can you be more flexible? How about moving your alarm clock to the other side of the room. This will make you get up to turn the alarm off.
In the classroom, flexibility comes from both the teacher and students. As the teacher, it’s important to be viewed as the authority figure, but building flexibility into your teaching strategy can lead to greater student engagement, better overall communication, and, ultimately, more flexibility on your students’ part as you model this very important Key each day.
“Student achievement flows from great teaching,” states Vicki Phillips, Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
We believe great teachers know how to create meaningful, engaging learning environments that challenge students to do their best. Unfortunately, the majority of time that’s spent on developing teachers is too focused on the “what” and the “why” but not the “how” of creating successful learning environments.
Teachers know what they want their classrooms to look like and how they want their students to be, yet often they don’t know how to make it happen. Over our 20 years of experience working with schools on professional staff development, we’ve seen many good teachers become great — once they learn how to change the dynamics of their classroom.
Specifically, great teachers know how to:
- Connect with students
- Make content meaningful and relevant
- Orchestrate positive interactions
- Build a classroom environment of respect and high expectations
- Inspire students to do their best
- Stimulate positive student behavior
- Teach to all types of learners
- Engage students in learning from bell to bell
- Great teachers know how to create a community of learners who are engaged and excited to learn!
When teachers are empowered and know how to make this happen in the classroom — when they have practical, transferable skills and techniques to create a learning environment that works — the desired outcomes follow: improved behavior, attendance, grades, test scores and graduation rates.
Vicki Phillips continues to say, “Great teaching is advanced by great professional development.” Effective teacher training takes time and commitment. Success in the classroom is not achieved with drive-by workshops that lecture teachers on the what without the how. Effective programs put the “how” first and ensure that teachers can successfully apply it in their classrooms.
When teachers acquire the necessary “how” skills and practice and personalize them in their classrooms, the result is a highly effective learning environment that produces positive outcomes for their students.
Below you can see a video of Kelli Myers’ Quantum Learning 5th grade class doing a “power whoosh.” A “Power Whoosh” is when on cue, everyone claps their hands three times in unison, then sends all of their positive energy to a designated person. It is a part of Quantum Learning’s “If It’s Worth Learning, It’s Worth Celebrating.” Celebration builds the desire for success. So celebrate often!
Teachers need techniques. There is no shame in a new teacher adopting a great lesson plan from a generous master teacher. The sharing of “best practices” is a common activity at staff meetings. As so many veteran teachers will admit, some of their best ideas were “borrowed” from colleagues. It’s what teachers do – brag about a great unit they just taught, helpfully hint at a classroom management strategy that a colleague might need, and refresh their dwindling enthusiasm at the pool of shared experience and creativity.
In San Diego County, educators, schools, and students have the good fortune to be located near the home office of a dynamic education company that offers its own well of energetic, inspired ideas: Quantum Learning. This is not an advertisement; this is a testimony. Quantum Learning uses brain research to inform its instructional methodology. They also offer brain-based methods for learners via summer camps. But that sounds so dry. Really, the impact of what Quantum Learning delivers in its teacher workshops and camps can best be conveyed by a description of a Quantum Learning-infused classroom.
Imagine a classroom filled with color and light – a cozy lamp, a bright tablecloth – and posters displaying positive messages such as “Today became great when YOU arrived.” Listen – there is music playing, upbeat as you enter the room and soothing as you work. There’s a teacher who gets the class up and moving at frequent intervals, using body motions, choral response, and visual cues to engage kids and help them remember concepts. Notes are taken in color with picture drawing encouraged, and students whose brains don’t work in a linear mode are taught mind-mapping instead of traditional notes. Life skills are imparted along with academics – keys such as “Failure leads to success” encourage kids to see their efforts as building blocks towards success when they struggle. Kids start class charged up and ready for learning and leave class with concrete knowledge about what they know and don’t know and how to move forward.
It is difficult to share the techniques with a colleague who has never “been to the well” – to outsiders, it seems gimmicky, perhaps even cultish. But teachers who have attended a Quantum Learning workshop and tried the strategies in their own classroom know how powerful they can be. These days, with tight budgets limiting the acquisition of expensive toys like smart boards and individual student laptops, our schools are more in need than ever of good strategies that help kids learn, make school a positive, energetic, attractive place, and infuse joy back into the teachers’ efforts.
Congratulations to Bob Callahan for being chosen as Region 16 Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP). Mr. Callahan is in his 20th year as principal of Dumas High School and his 33rd year with Dumas ISD. His prior positions with the district include five years as a biology teacher and assistant coach and eight years as the assistant principal all at DHS. He had six years of teaching experience before coming to Dumas. Mr. Callahan will be recognized at the upcoming TASSP State Conference.
Bob will present with Quantum Learning at a session entitled “Light the Fire of Loving Learning in EVERY Student!” at the Texas School Improvement Conference in October in Austin.
“Quantum Learning is the most powerful program for improving teacher effectiveness, enthusiasm and excitement for teaching that we’ve ever had in this district. It has become contagious! I remember hearing one of the QL instructors who is also a teacher talk about a new teacher who would come by his class every day because every student in the grade level he taught in wanted to be in his class, and the new teacher wanted to know why. The same thing has happened at my school. Students want to be in classes where teachers are using Quantum Learning methods to teach. They want to come to school and can’t wait to get there. You know, new teachers who step into a classroom and suddenly have to get everything done are just overwhelmed at first. There is so much more that they are responsible for than they ever imagined. And then they have a diverse classroom and all kinds of situations to deal with. That is where Quantum Learning comes in. It equips teachers to be the best they could ever want to be. If they are a parent, it equips them to be the kind of teacher they’d want their own children to have. I can see it in how my teachers carry themselves. They’re confident and their excited to be at school every morning. It’s been a real transformation in our school since we began Quantum Learning.”
The Tenets are important concepts or guiding principles that are basic to the Quantum Learning system. These ideas are woven throughout the fabric of the system, and as a result will be rediscovered in many applications and strategies. The Tenets are specifically designed to improve our practice in the classroom by directing our focus. We recommend that you post them in a place where you will see them on a regular basis.
The first Tenet is “Everything Speaks.” This concept reminds us that everything we do in the classroom sends a message to students. The way we greet students first thing in the morning or at the beginning of a class sends a message. The way we handle an incorrect response from a student given in front of peers sends a message. Our Environment, the Atmosphere we create, the Design of our lesson delivery or educational tasks, how we dress, the way we listen, or the character traits we model all send messages to our students. By being constantly aware of this important principle we tend to be more deliberate and proactive in orchestrating the messages students receive. This helps us better manage the variables that contribute to an optimal classroom atmosphere and learning environment.
“Everything is on Purpose” is the second Tenet and it follows logically from the one before it, “Everything Speaks.” If everything speaks, then it follows that we want to be purposeful with everything we do in the classroom to get the desired outcome. A focus on the Tenet, “Everything is on Purpose”, encourages a greater awareness of all the variables that influence learning. It is this Tenet that helps us to begin to see our role in the classroom differently. We are not in the classroom to dispense knowledge – we are there to orchestrate learning. We are striving to get masterful in this orchestration, and even small variables and details become important to us.
“Experience Before Label” is an important principle that influences our lesson design and delivery. It means that we involve students in an experience or elicit an experience that they can relate to before we attempt to attach it to any symbolic language or label. From a scientific perspective we are creating schema or a new neural network in the brain before attaching the label. It can also mean that we move the students to inquiry where they are seeking the label or concept before we give it to them. For example, a math teacher may involve students in a real-life situation in which they are trying to solve a problem but having difficulty based on what they already know. They may begin to look for a new formula or principle to help them accomplish the solution. This state of inquiry or searching would be an ideal time for the teacher to introduce the new concept, and this process would be called “Experience Before Label.” In a literature class a teacher may have students experience writing from a talented author before introducing the literary concept of mood. A science teacher may have students experience or observe the laws of motion before actually labeling them.
Experience Before Label is about creating a teachable moment. It is about getting students emotionally involved and questioning with questions such as Why? When? Where? What? How? The word label in this principle refers to the information we want students to learn – the facts, the formulas, the new terms, the sequence, the reasons, etc. When we design our instruction using “Experience Before Label,” we are using a brain-considerate strategy that attaches the learning to previously established schema, evokes proper emotional learning states, maximizes the use of inquiry, and bridges the content to the students’ world.
The “Acknowledge Every Effort” Tenet places a strong emphasis on reinforcing effort in the classroom. By acknowledging effort the professional educator places a strong focus on effort. This focus on effort has many benefits in the educational arena. By acknowledging effort and creating a focus on effort we help our students to know that we consider good consistent effort the hallmark of a good student.
One very significant benefit with a focus on effort relates to our students’ self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is our students’ concept of what they are capable of accomplishing and relates to their views of their own abilities.When we define a student as one who gives good consistent effort we are asking the student to do something he or she can do. This is because effort is a choice. Even though some students may not be able to compete with the student sitting next to them in achievement scores, they can choose to give effort, and if effort is the sign of a good student then they can consider themselves good students. By asking students to give good consistent effort we are asking them to do something they know they can choose to do. How satisfied would you be as a professional educator if all your students did was give 100% effort? Most of us could live with that!
The last Tenet is “If It’s Worth Learning It’s Worth Celebrating.” These celebrations occur inside the student and are orchestrated by the professional educator. It is the good feeling students have about their own progress and their contributions to the learning of others. It includes the joy, excitement, and passion for learning that permeates the classroom atmosphere. It includes the positive acknowledgments the students receive for their effort and participation. It may be enhanced by such things as small as a comment by the teacher expressing appreciation for accomplishment or by an entire group joining together in a cheer, a special event or a rewarding activity. It should be an ongoing and consistent principle operating in the classroom. It reinforces motivation and the message, “This is important.
McPherson USD 418 district staff took time out of their day to speak with Washington Elementary School students about the 8 Keys of Excellence Tuesday.
The 8 Keys are part of the district’s new Citizenship, College and Career Ready initiative. Elementary students across the district will learn a new key each month, with the keys incorporated into other classroom lesson.
Eight district employees took turns explaining the 8 Keys to students as Washington. Many of the key have a corresponding action to help the students better remember the key and what it means.
As part of the district’s new initiative, students will also be rewarded for demonstrating the use of one of the 8 Keys while at school.