Dr Robert Brooks
Dr. Robert Brooks’ delivered a key note address to the QSD staff entitled, The Power of Mindsets: Creating a Positive School Climate. He asked us to “connect the dots backwards” in order to recall the events that have impacted our present lives and he reminded us that even the most successful adults have had at least one “charismatic adult” in their lives without whom they may not have achieved success. We watched a YouTube video of Pharrell Williams explaining that without the support of his band teacher, he would not be where he is today. Through his humorous and touching stories, Bob Brooks helped us understand that a basic feature of a positive mindset is “To believe that all children from birth want to learn and be successful.” Instead of believing that students are unmotivated, Bob described how students are often dominated by “avoidance motivation” in order to protect themselves from feeling embarrassed and humiliated. He suggested that: If we believe all students are motivated to learn and if we understand and that students practice “avoidance motivation,” it will empower us to create “motivating environments” where students can thrive and achieve at high levels. When students are failing we have to ask ourselves what we can do differently rather than expecting the students to change first. Finally, Dr. Brooks discussed three basic needs that must be met for students to be motivated to learn.
- The need to belong and feel connected (and let’s add the word welcome): When any member of the school environment feels alienated, learning and achievement will be compromised and anger and resentment will become dominant features
- The need for self-determination and autonomy, which are significant features of a sense of ownership and resilience: What input and choices do all members of a school community feel they have? Do they feel their voice is being heard and respected?
- The need to feel competent: To identify and reinforce each child’s “islands of competence”
I would like to ask that we begin to challenge ourselves by eliminating the words lazy and unmotivated from our vocabulary and to empower each other by asking what we can do differently to help student learn. I will be looking to highlight examples of staff creating “motivating environments” at different times throughout the school year so please email me if you or your colleagues have examples to share and we will highlight these in on our website and in publications. I will email these examples to Dr. Brooks and who knows, we just might find our way into Dr. Brooks’ next keynote address.
John L. Boyd
Quincy School District