Posts Tagged new teachers

Recharging classroom joy with techniques from Quantum Learning

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.

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The Quantum Learning Tenets

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.

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More Tips for a New School Year by Christian Rauch

A new school year is here! Below is a message sent out by Quantum Learning with helps for starting a new year with new students. There are some specific and easy ideas for each part of FADE, with links to terrific resources. Enjoy!

Dear Educator,

Wow! Another school year is already upon us. Where did the summer go? Well, school can be fun, too, because Quantum Learning has a ton of ideas for you on how to get things off to a great start and make it the best year ever for you and your students.

Remember, Quantum Learning is a SYSTEM for boosting student engagement and learning and it all begins with FADE:

FOUNDATION

The beginning of a new school year means “training” students in what’s expected in the classroom. With a strong Foundation, you can establish a shared vision and an understanding of expectations in your classroom. Download our document entitled How to Develop Rules and Consequences for a plan on how to establish ground rules that will support a successful year.

How would you like your students to enter/exit the classroom? Consider last year – what did you develop that worked? What would you change? What level of self-directed behavior do your students manifest? Each of these areas of consideration is defined and developed in the QL attachment on PAPR – Policies, Agreement, Procedures, and Rules. Download it here.

ATMOSPHERE

The start of the year is your opportunity to establish an empowering Atmosphere for learning. Here’s a link to a short video with tips on what you can say and do to create a climate in your classroom that promotes a sense of joy, safety, and support.

Also, get QL’s Top 5 Hot Tips for creating an empowering Atmosphere in your classroom this year and tips from QL teachers and facilitators on how to build rapport with your students from the first day of school.

DESIGN

Begin every lesson with a plan for how you will Enroll your students so that they are engaged; create Experiences and curiosity; Label what is learned AFTER the Experiences; allow students to Demonstrate what they have learned;Review and promote Reflection of new content learned; and Celebrate your students’ learning successes. The Quantum Learning Design Frame (E L L D R C) provides a proven process for promoting greater learning and long term memory. Click here for some great “Enrolling” ideas.

ENVIRONMENT

The start of the school year is your chance to establish a physical learning space that is inviting and supportive so that you can deliver your content in more engaging and interesting ways. As we say in QL, “Everything Speaks,” meaning everything in the environment sends a message that either enhances or detracts from learning. Download our document on How to Create a Supportive Environment in your classroom.

This is just the beginning of how you can begin to make it a GREAT YEAR for your students and boost learning! Also, be sure to check out our QL blog for valuable research and more great ideas.

Looking forward to hearing all about your successes the next time we see you!

Whooshhhhhh!

Your Quantum Learning Education Team

P.S. Ask about our additional programs to support you: Observation and Coaching Days, Tele-coaching sessions, Reinforcement and Renewal Workshops, and our new QL Topic Specific one day workshops! Visit our website at http://www.qln.com and find out what’s new at Quantum Learning! Or, contact your QL Education Senior Consultant at www.qln.com/learning_education_contact.html

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Put Downs Go Up In Flames by The McPherson Sentinel

Eisenhower Elementary School students saw their negative thoughts, comments and actions go up in flames Friday.   Eisenhower third through fifth-graders wrote put downs on paper to be burned during the ceremony. The school’s head custodian, Al Ortego, then burned, and extinguished the put downs in a brief but powerful ceremony.
Put downs are negatives comments students say to one another or about one another.  Burning the put downs is part of the school’s bullying philosophy that if a student does not have anything nice to day, they don’t need to say anything at all said Eisenhower third grade teacher Kari Moddelmog.
The lesson also goes along with the district’s new 8 Keys of Excellence, which is part of the Citizenship, College and Career Ready initiative.  The second key, speak with good purpose, teaches students to make positive comments to one another.   By burning the put downs, the negative thoughts and comments student have heard or said “will be gone forever, never to be said or thought about again,” Moddelmog said.

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Online Meets In-Person… A Beautiful Partnership!

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Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is the largest virtual school in terms of enrollments in the country. It acts as a course provider for districts in Florida and other states. With more than 700 full-time instructional employees and over 10,000 students on a wait list to enroll, they are the only public school with funding tied directly to student performance. How does this school reach out for staff development? FLVS, it’s great to meet you. Our training is dynamic in-person staff development training specializing in engaging how the brain learns to get results. At first glance it might seem as though these two educational institutions are worlds apart, however, they are closer than you might think.

For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of training hundreds of FLVS teachers in our Quantum Learning methodologies, which have increased online results. So, how do in-person group dynamics meet online learning? It is a question I constantly ask myself as I get on the plane to head to Orlando for the training. I know it is my job to facilitate this partnership.

The willingness of the professional educators to match a strategy that produces extraordinary results in a typical “brick and mortar” classroom to the online environment is the first ingredient to this success. For example, Quantum Learning has a design and presentation method that orchestrates student’s being more willing to take risk with new content. These risks can include something as simple as raising a hand to ask a question or as high gradient as standing in front of a group of peers for a presentation in the “brick and mortar.” Translated to the online environment; calling or instant messaging the teacher or another student to ask for help or a discussion-based assessment at the end of a module. The Quantum Learning instructor models the innovative practices and debriefs why these strategies work and produce results. The FLVS teacher takes the purpose and translates the strategy into one that produces results in the online environment. I am constantly impressed by the teachers’ dedication to their students’ success.

This transfer happens in team collaboration sessions. These trainings give teachers, who are typically on a solo mission of working from home, an opportunity to be in the same space with their partner teacher and other educators from their department. It’s a time for a meeting of the minds with the focus being on student success. Often times the collaboration outside of staff development training happens via phone, email, instant message, or conference calls. We have all been here, trying to focus, and our son, daughter, or dog comes in demanding our immediate attention. The in-person Quantum Learning training focuses on utilizing the time together to both implement strategies as well as strengthen the relationship between colleagues so virtual collaboration continues to run smoothly. There is so much beauty in spending time being together and working as an organic unit with outcomes in mind. Staff that have great relationships produce high-quality work and are more willing to go the extra mile when they feel valued and supported.

The bottom line, whether we teach in a “brick and mortar” school, online, or in another country: great teaching is great teaching. Educators who are committed to spending time working on mastering the craft of teaching and building strong foundational relationships between staff members are high performance human beings.

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Put Me In, Coach!

I recently attended a 2-day training in San Diego City Schools called “Put Me In, Coach.” This is a program for master teachers who have or will have a student teacher. The program was developed by Mark Reardon and is an exciting new offering of Quantum Learning Education.

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The opening statement, “All habits we have as teachers are just habits and patterns and those patterns — they are either useful or not useful patterns” led to a great connection on the “supreme goal” of all teachers being focused on Quality of Student Learning.


 

There were dozens of powerful moments for me in the workshop as I made connections to Central Elementary School in Lake Bluff, IL where Tom Brown, my master teacher (who trained at the University of Chicago Lab School) coached me, grilled me, got me to stop saying “okay” at the end of a sentence, modeled greatness, shared and had me think about my practice. He inspired me on a daily basis and shaped much of how I educate today.

 

Mark shared 5 simple expectations he has of a student teacher. I share them with you because they are simple, up-front and useful:

  1. Teach from a place of passion and enthusiasm
  2. I expect you will fall in love with my students as I have
  3. Do not call me after 7pm, that’s family time
  4. On-time means on time 7:28 is on time for a 7:30 meeting
  5. At the end of this experience I want to say to your supervisor – you love kids, you care, you dress professionally, you speak with good purpose and what your strengths are as a teacher.

 

I saw this quote by John Dewey, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” What a great idea for all of us to remember, because every single day a new or veteran teacher thrusts themselves into new territory, is asked to perform, think and process how they can better impact the lives in front of them, understands their content, knows outcomes, heads-off discipline issues, give clear instructions…ah, this is the education. And what a great one when you have an outstanding coach to guide and mentor.

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