School Solutions

What’s Working, and What’s Not
By BOBBI DEPORTER/School Administrator, April 2017

As leaders in education, we all have awe-inspiring outcomes as well as disappointments when things don’t turn out the way we visualized. When the school year wraps up, are we celebrating or wondering what happened?

We poured ourselves into this year — we knew what we wanted yet the reality may be different. Though we had positive outcomes, there may have been more challenges than we anticipated.

Learn From Mistakes
After more than 35 years in education, including 30 years as president of Quantum Learning Network, I’ve come to recognize what’s important about setbacks is what we can learn from them. Did we do our best? Could we have done more or done things differently? What did we learn? How will we apply what we learned?

One of QLN’s Eight Keys of Excellence, the principles to live by that we teach our students and practice throughout our organization, is failure leads to success. Analyzing failures clarifies our desired outcome and defines what we can do differently next time. If we view failures as feedback, learn from them and apply what we learn, it invariably leads us to success.

It’s important we spend time and focus on our results because far too many of our students are not engaging to the level that brings about a sustainable, ongoing love of learning. We see far too many are not gaining the knowledge, skills and motivation they need to excel as students and become successful, productive citizens.

Gems and Opps
Part of our organization’s culture is a tradition we call gems and opps — gems for successes and opps for opportunities for improvement. At the end of our busy season and throughout the year following projects that affect our overall outcomes, we look at our gems and opps. We analyze each gem. What did we do right to get that positive result so that we know what worked, why it worked and how we can get that result again.

Then we do the same for our opportunities, as they provide the information we need to improve our outcomes. The key to learning from our failures is to ask ourselves these three questions:

» What happened?

» What did we learn?

» What will we do differently next time?

These gems and opps reviews can be done individually or in departments or smaller groups, as well as used for staff review sessions. They become part of the culture where people look forward to both the gems and the opps. Staff members have told me, “Yes gems are nice, but what I really value are the opps, as they give me something to work on and improve.”

As we approach the end of the school year, are we celebrating or wondering what happened? Now is a great time for in-depth review and reflection that results in a clear direction for our future.

Bobbi DePorter is president of Quantum Learning Network and co-author with Barbara K. Given of Excellence in Teaching and Learning: The Quantum Learning System. E-mail: Twitter: @BobbiDePorter