Archive | Uncategorized RSS for this section

Learning Quotient

The skills, attitudes, attributes and behaviours you need to take control of your own learning environment.

LQ round

There is a truth in education, we believe in “ability“, the abilities of the students we teach. The common belief is that students have an ability in a “subject”, good at science or maths, yet subjects are an artificial construct. I would argue that a truth based on an artificial construct, purely designed to make teaching more manageable, is fundamentally flawed.

Labels good at

What then if this truth is wrong, a form of reflection of something we don’t directly see but that determines our ability to learn?

baby reflection

I believe we are born to learn. However before developing a spoken language we are not aware of what we can or cannot learn, we only experience learning. We do not have these experiences in isolation, we are bound to our environment and those we share it with. It is impossible our learning experiences are without influence from our environment and those within it. Our behaviours are moderated by the social norm we live in. Our attitudes are influenced by how those around us approach their challenges. We develop attributes that are encouraged by our peers and mentors. The skills we acquire help us to navigate this environment and in part adopt a role within it.

We may be blind to the influences of our environment through our learning experiences and that of others too. We could just be accepting “ability”  as a simple truth because it is far less complicated and easier to accept.

My own learning experiences and those of teaching others suggest an alternative truth, one that takes into account the influences of our environment. I suggest that there is such a thing as Learning Intelligence, “LQ” and that it can be developed.

I define LQ as: the ability of the learner to manage their learning environment to meet their learning needs.learning to walk

There are parallels to this theory that we exhibit in our early learning years.

Learning to walk we use props to steady us and to help raise ourselves up, we show resilience when we fall over.

Learning a language involves mimicking others and responding to feedback. It involves trial and error and risk.

These are just some of the strategies we use to manage our early learning environment. Those we need for later learning are the result of the subtle and often unrecognised influences of our environment. We begin to build these influences into what I call our learning map,  a representation of what we believe we can and cannot learn. They take the tangible form of skills, attributes, attitudes and behaviours and are the tools by which we navigate our learning map and hence our learning environment.

Those learners that are successful in schools are often those whose learning map and LQ profile match the school environment. They have the skills, attributes, attitudes and behaviours that allow them to access the learning and they feel comfortable within that particular environment. Whilst many go on to achieve within life there are some who find learning outside of the school environment difficult perhaps because they have through the lack of challenge, of being compliant, failed to develop their LQ.  I have asked the question “Is compliance a learning disability?” and you can find the article here.

There are many who don’t do well in learning at school too. These pupils are either seen as being “unable” to learn (less able), or who have emotional or other behavioral challenges that cause them to respond poorly to the school environment. Once again I claim this can be dealt with successfully if we look at the symptoms rather than the outcome (often the behaviour) and develop their LQ.

My belief is that we desperately and urgently need to address the issue of this false truth. 

We need to develop in learners the skills, attitudes, attributes and behaviours so that they can manage their own learning environment to meet their learning needs and in doing so take control of their learning. When we do learners will be able to demonstrate their true abilities. 


Do you plan lessons the way you learnt them?

Lesson Plan

Do you try to learn what you are teaching the way you are presenting it to your students?

To put it another way.

When you begin to plan lessons do you see it through the eyes of your students or do you rely on the way you learnt it to plan your teaching?

This is an important question not only for those starting their teaching career but for those who have been at it some time. I believe learning is a personal thing. What motivates, engages, enthuses, or frustrates one learner is not always the same as another. We can feign enthusiasm, hide our lack of engagement, or explain a lack of motivation but hiding frustration is difficult. This is why the first step in teaching has to be building relationships with learners. Frustrated learners with whom you have a relationship tend in my experience to be a little more ‘forgiving’ than those with which you do not. I am not talking about the ‘compliant learner’ who will feign engagement but those who can be more disruptive when not engaged.

To build relationships we need to understand something about the other person, as a teacher we need to understand our students. One aspect of building this relationship is to see the learning experience through their eyes as if we too are encountering it for the first time. Do you do that when planning lessons?

Take a moment to consider the conditions under which you learnt what you are now planning to teach.

  • How long ago was it?
  • How were you feeling at the time?
  • How successful had your prior learning been?
  • What relationship did you have with the teacher?
  • What relationship did you have with your peers?
  • What resources were available to you to help you learn?

Now think about how you plan to teach the particular topic. Will you make any changes as a result of this reflection?

Perhaps you will take a moment to judge how confident your students feel at this moment. Perhaps you will consider your own feelings when you approach something new or challenging. Lesson planning is more than just about content.

You can see much more about lesson planning at:

If you are finding it hard to remember what it feels like to be a learner, to learn something new, to face new challenges for the first time then may I recommend John’s rule # 12 which says:

“Always have a project on the go.”

 This is translated as ‘always be a learner. More of John’s rules at:


The Great Learning Gap

Further examples that support the concept of Learning Intelligence.

Love Learning by Debra Kidd

Sugata Mitra’s controversial new study summarised in the TES here suggests that self study on the internet can boost a child’s performance by seven years. Basically, 8 and 9 year olds studied GCSE content online before being examined three months later in examination conditions. They were successful. It sounds astounding, but it’s true, at least for the small number of children involved. And actually I don’t think it’s that surprising. To me, this is not a study about the power of the internet. It’s a study about the power of children.

Despite what the traditionalists may tell you, kids teach themselves stuff all the time. And they retain it too. The problem for us as teachers is that too often we don’t find out what it is they know because we have already decided we’ll tell them when we’re ready. And the other is that often the stuff they’ve learned…

View original post 811 more words

Meeting Learning Needs

Just had to post this link. Watch it and then consider the “lesson planning” that went in to including this aspect of our learning needs, that of “fun”. And if you were there you would have a common bond you share with the other who also saw it, hence we have the second need addressed, that of “belonging”. He also starts of by purporting to offer “choice”, our third learning need. How did he account for the final learning need, that of voice? Very clever indeed.

World-Class Teaching Consultation

DfE logo

The DfE are consulting on the vision for a world-class teaching profession. The launch date was the 9th January and responses have to be in by 3rd February.

Link: DfE_cons_overview_document_template_for_World_Class_Teachers_Consultation_voo3BR (1)

They are wishing to use Twitter too using the hashtag #worldclassteachers.

“We would also like to stimulate a debate through social media channels, and would encourage use of the Twitter hashtag #worldclassteachers. This hashtag will be monitored, and a digest of relevant posts will be included in the evidence summary.”

There is a feedback meeting leading on from the consultation taking place in Nottingham on the 7th of February.

Details here:

Advocating Creativity has made a response and I thought you may like to see it. You can download it here: A_World-Class_Teaching_Profession_download_response_form Kevin Hewitson Advocating Creativity Ltd


2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,300 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

What if there was a simple way of enabling learners to be the best they could be?


It’s the Holy Grail in teaching, to ensure all learners reach their potential, and we have tried all manner of ways to find it.

E-learning concept

What if the answer was staring us in the face all along? Would we recognise it and would we grasp the opportunity with both hands? My experience as a teacher and consultant suggests not. Along with my solution, that of developing Learning Intelligence, here is why we have not taken the opportunity so far.

arrow-with-the-words-hit-your-target-is-pulled-back-on-the-bow-and-is-aimed-at-a-red-bulls-eye-taPoliticians consider it too risky to leave education to what they perceive as chance and imagine they can dictate and control it through inspection and the setting of targets. The trouble with this is we only see the things we are looking for and only hit the things we aim for.  This limits creativity, innovation, and risk taking. It also sets a limit on what can be achieved, if you are required to hit a target at 100m why try to hit it at 1000m? There is no point in making the extra effort. The target has got to be constantly revised otherwise there is no challenge and “moving the goal posts” hardly appears fair when you were so close to achieving it. Targets may do more to de-motivate than to motivate.

Responsibility diagram upadated

Leadership misunderstand their responsibilities. It is often interpreted as the imposing  of policies sent down by politicians, even if it does not foster a learning relationship between the teacher and learner. This behaviour can inhibit them from reacting to local needs and conditions.  The true role of leadership is to ensure only those initiatives and ideas that actually promote the learning relationship are supported.

Teacher and Class 3

I find that teachers are inclined to teach the way they learn and were taught. Perhaps it is difficult to even imagine another way when the way you learnt was so successful for you.  The drive to be a teacher is often to help give the opportunities that became available to you as a result of your education to others, so why do it any differently. Teachers are the instruments by which policy is applied and targets achieved so they have little freedom to explore alternatives or little inclination to take risks.

parents and children

Parents have bought into the passive learning model. Their children go to school to be taught and that model is one they themselves experienced. In this model the responsibility for a lack of achievement is easily directed at the teacher and certainly away from them as parents or their children as learners. They insist the school tries harder, sets more homework, and makes their children learn so long as it does not take up too much of their time.


Employers are not sure what they want an education system to do to prepare young people for the world of work.  We hear that many of the jobs our students will be doing when they leave school don’t exist yet so I suppose this makes it difficult. In the absence of a clear picture of what is required we hear the common call for “the basics”, but often that is left vaguely defined and what is the basics for one employer may not be for another.  Many call for “soft skills”*,  skills that complement the job related or “hard skills”.  Schools are not measured or given targets for these skills so they do not form part of the directed curriculum and therefore are not given a high priority.

diagram of LQ and SAAB

The solution, the one that is staring us in the face. There is a simple way of enabling learners and we can find fragments of it scattered through current and past research, writings, and practices. Some call for better feedback in the learning cycle, building learning power, some for a more mindful approach to learning and others of requiring grit from the learner.


Each has a piece of the jigsaw but no one person or concept has it all.  No one, until now that is, has brought what we know about teaching and learning together under one unifying approach or concept. So we move from one initiative or idea to another. Each time hoping that each will help find the Holy Grail. What we should be doing is unifying our efforts into working with learners to develop their ability to manage their learning environment to meet their learning needs. Just take a moment to  reflect on this statement before I go on to explain what this means.

I claim that successful learners are those who are able to interact with their learning environment and that their environment meets their learning needs. This explains why some learners do well at school but not as well as adults and why some learners who struggled in school do well in the real world. Where there is a match between  the school environment and the needs of a particular learner they will do well, where there is not any learner will struggle to reach their true potential in that environment. Other factors must come into play for an individual who is mismatched with their learning environment to achieve their potential.

An analysis of this reality suggests that there are a set of skills, attributes, attitudes, and behaviours that learners who are successful in any environment have or display. They are able to adapt their environment to meet their needs and overcome environmental limiting factors. I call this “Learning Intelligence” or LQ for short and it represents the way we can help all learners to reach their true potential.

The evidence that supports the concept of LQ is there for us to see if we adopt an open mind to the issues of learning. Perhaps the first glimpses we have seen of LQ in action has been as a result of the changing of the learning environment through technology.  For example the Khan Academy and YouTube have shown that learners can respond successfully to a different learning environment to that of the school. What these new learning environments provide is a better match to the learner’s needs.  We hear also of the “gamification” of learning as we see the effort people are willing to put into these type of environments.  It seems obvious then that if we develop the learner’s ability to manage different learning environments to meet their learning needs by developing their LQ that they will be in better position to reach their potential.

There are numerous benefits to the LQ approach to learning too.

  • We do not have to worry about what new initiatives or ideas that may come along for the learner will be equipped to deal with them.
  • The concept of life-long learning becomes a reality because the learner will be able to cope with any change in learning environment.
  • Teachers are not asked to plan and deliver lessons to accommodate numerous learning styles and can focus on what matters – building relationships and turning knowledge into understanding.
  • Parents can be helped to understand how the environment they create at home also impacts learning.
  • Politicians can relax a little knowing that they have a society of learners that can adapt to changes in the skills, knowledge or understanding required of them during their working life.
  • Employers will get the employees they are looking for.

boy 2

So we have a simpler and better way to approach learning if we want it.

Any takers?

For an introduction to LQ go to:

To access over 30 articles on LQ explore: or download the leaflet on  LQ 

Kev Profile Pic

For workshops, keynote speeches or for more about how developing LQ can release the potential of learners you can contact me at

Graphic from:


Five Steps in Developing Learning Intelligence (LQ)

diagram of LQ and SAAB

For over a year now I have been publishing articles that describe the concept I call Learning Intelligence or “LQ” for short. You can see a list of the articles here: About LQ and articles

My “elevator” speech is that “LQ is the ability of the learner to manage their learning environment to  meet their learning needs.”  This is proving to be a simple yet powerful approach to teaching and learning.

As you can see from the graphic above LQ consists of a set of Skills, Attitudes, Attributes and Behaviors but how do you go about developing your LQ?

Here are five steps you could try.

1) Understand the impact of your learning environment on your learning and develop a feeling of being “safe” through taking responsibility for your own learning.

2) Determine the best learning strategy in any learning situation, this may involve delaying in depth learning so be patient.

3) Manage those around you or those directing your learning in a way that supports your learning and builds relationships

4) Be confident and willing to collaborate and to share what you have learnt or finding difficult to learn in order to seek support or guidance.

5) Be willing to change what you believe you can and cannot learn.

For more about how LQ can help you as a parent, teacher or as a learner then you can contact me at

The Need for Learning Intelligence as a Concept

There are difficulties and disagreements in not only deciding what an education should consist of but also how people should be taught and how we should assess the learning that takes place.

Fundamental Questions

These are three fundamental questions on which it is difficult to find any agreement. Do we follow the ideas of “experts,” politicians, teachers or learners and who do we choose and how do we choose them? Is there one right approach and solution to the education equation and can we afford the answer?

There is no doubt that collectively we are trying to find a way forward in education and that many individuals and groups have their ideas as how best to proceed. There is no one way, no one right way for everyone yet we still seek this “golden token” that will unite us all. It was the dream of Victorian engineering that everything could be broken down, improved, mass produced and re assembled to make a better product all of which behave in exactly the same way. In terms of education this idea has proven to be a false compass and we are, dare I say it, lost!

education compass

Finding your way

If we become lost in any landscape running around in circles is not the way forward or the intelligent thing to do. The clever thing to do is to look for indicators for the “best” direction to go in and plan how to get there. Again we face the dilemma of choice. Assuming we are not alone and not the sole decision maker I am sure there would be a host of “best” directions to go in and each person would have their view and ideas. Some may form into groups in order to strengthen their argument and secure the direction based on what they thought best. Whatever direction people set off in there would be a constant challenge and pressure to go another way when things looked hopeless. I would argue it is this lack of consensus that seriously affects education in the same way as it affects people who are lost and cannot agree which way to go.

If you are alone and lost then you only have yourself to argue with! You are responsible for surviving or not. Having the right skills, attitude, and attributes and making decisions based on objective reasoning may greatly enhance your chance of survival.  

Whilst there is something to be said about being part of a group, “There is safety in numbers” but there are also compromises to make. Where these compromises impact on your chance of survival then you have to make arrangements not to be “caught out” by them. For example if your calculations, based on what you know about your needs,  suggest that you will require 20 litres of water but the group consensus is 15 litres do you “follow the herd” or do you carry the extra you know you need?

You can be part of a group but you can also take responsibility for your own survival and make your own arrangements. The caveat is if you do things in the “right” way of course and this needs certain skills, attributes and attitudes too, often referred to as “diplomacy “and “Emotional Intelligence (EQ)”.  Get it wrong and you will most definitely be on your own. You can contribute to a group, change groups, form your own groups and seek to influence groups according to what you need. Throughout your chosen involvement with others though you need to understand and recognise your own needs. You need to know which of your needs you can do without, need most, can modify and how to satisfy or manage your needs in whatever situation you find yourself.

Are we lost in the educational landscape?

If we think of our education as part of our learning landscape then we can see how we could do with our own compass instead of relying on somebody else’s. A learning compass that will help us navigate the environment in which we find ourselves in order to meet our learning needs.  Being equipped with our own compass we will not need to rely on others for direction although we may ask for assistance. We will have to understand our own needs though if we are going to try to navigate the learning landscape and use our learning compass effectively. We will have to recognise when our learning needs are being met and when they are not as well as having strategies we can deploy to manage whatever learning situation we are in. We will need to understand the effect of the learning environment has upon us as individuals, how we are motivated or hindered in our learning, how we find energy or become bored, what makes us confident, and what undermines us. In short we will have to develop our Learning Intelligence.

For more on LQ please look back over the 20 articles on this blog covering many of the skills, attitudes and aptitudes involved in LQ.

The link to the original article is here : LINK TO LQ

Comments always welcome.


Knowing and Learning – Is there a Difference?

I am working through the process of writing my book on Learning Intelligence, LQ, at the moment. A number of fundamental question have arisen from this work including this one.

Is there a difference between knowing and learning?

I see learning being the bridge between knowledge and understanding and that once across this bridge understanding facilitates creativity. Let me give you an example of my thinking on this question and how I arrived at this conclusion.

CAT symbol quan

Why 12 x 12?

It’s a simple question, why do we learn our times table up to 12?

By exploring something we all are taught at a very young age, the “times tables”, or “multiplication tables” I hope to show my thinking. The question may not be relevant to understanding knowledge and learning but why up to 12? I know my times table, I know that 1 x 1 is 1 all the way up to 12 x 12 is 144. Why did I stop at 12 x 12? Why not go all the way up to 19 x 19 or further? If 12 were decided upon as the upper limit because of imperial measurements, 12 inches in a foot and 12 eggs in a dozen etc, then why when we went decimal in the UK did we not decide to only go as far as 10 x 10? Continental and ‘metric’ Europe may only teach up to 10 x 10 but what about America and Canada? There must be a rational explanation why knowing our times table up to 12 is necessary. No one ever told me as a learner why.

If we take the “You will need it in everyday life” consequences of knowing something  then there has been countless times when my times table has been immensely useful and I can only think of a few situations where more than 12 x 12 would have been needed. Perhaps there is something in it and if you know the reason behind this please let me know.

Does knowing help?

Accepting then that there is some rationale behind the range of the times table, does knowing this help me in some way or is there something more to it? I have already said there are everyday life examples where it does help but knowing 12 x 12 is 144 is one thing, understanding why, I would claim, is another.

This is where it got interesting, well to me anyway! Let me explain and I think this is the route to the difference between knowing and learning.

Learning by rote, often by chanting or repetition, may help build up neural pathways. Each pathway forming a sort of highway with a fixed destination for each starting point. As soon as I see 6 x 6 or verbalise 6 x 6 my highway connects me to 36 and I retrieve the answer.  The answer can be retrieved as fast as any reflex and in schools this was often the basis of competition in learning my tables. Now whenever I encounter a number between 1 and 12 and need to multiply it by another number between 1 and 12 I have the answer almost instantly because I know it. Where does this leave me though if I want to know 13 x 13? I argue that I need to understand something, I need to understand the basis of the times table in order to advance it beyond knowing.

What about learning?

If I know the times table not only by chanting it over and over but the principles on which it is based then I would claim I have a chance of applying that to working out what 13 x 13 is. If I only “know” my tables then as soon as I progress beyond 12 x 12 I am at a loss.

In understanding the principles I would have “learnt” about the times table and I would claim this is a step up from knowing it. Having the tools through learning about the times table and learning the relationship with having “X”  lots of  “Y” being the same as X times Y allows me to apply an element of logic taking the process a little further again. I am in effect being “creative,” I am solving problems with what I have learnt and what I know. 13 x 13 may now present itself to me as 10 x 13 = 130 and 3 x 13 = 39 giving me the answer of 169. I know 3 x 3 is 9 so I can work out that the final digit should be 9 too. If encouraged or perhaps out of interest born from understanding and wanting to learn further I can go on then and explore other relationships within the table. For example recognising 8 x 9 is the same as two lots of 4 x 9 or that 12 x 6 x 2 is the same as 12 x 12. I am now into number patterns and relationships and building my own knowledge.

The Key

This to me is the key, with the process of learning as opposed to just knowing you can build your own knowledge beyond that of what you are given.  You can solve problems, well at least attempt to solve them, using principles which you understand rather than just know.

When knowing something is not enough

One final example from my own experience of learning and knowing. During the early phases of learning German in school and in an effort to make us comfortable with the language (my claim at the time it was to keep us in order I think!) the teacher had us learn a German play. Each member of the class had a part and lines to “learn”. We learnt them and could make a fair attempt to perform the play. Outside of this narrow knowledge of German though we could not engage anyone or attempt to communicate. To this day I can remember some lines from my part but unless somebody approaches me offering me chocolate I am stumped as this was my prompt to speak my lines.

There are times when knowing something is enough and it can be really helpful (quiz nights perhaps) and at other times learning is far more important. Learning and through this process developing understanding allows the individual to apply, to be creative in using what they have learnt. It opens up the creative process and helps in solving problems.

It would be fair to say that in any education there are times when knowing is important. For example knowing what sounds letter make is one step towards reading and verbalising the code that is writing. Many people who would drive education policy suggest a “back to basics” approach focused on knowing. Those who call for back to basics never actually say how far back they want to go though and there may have been a time when this meant clubbing mammoths and lighting fires! Since we all have our own ideas what the basics are they tend to receive sweeping support from those who find failings in the education system but this does not move us forward.

Looking for a balance

I would suggest a need for a balance between knowing and learning but where should this balance lie and over what time frame? Should we start off with more knowing in the early years of education and then more learning towards the end of formal education or should there be a seesaw effect with a shifting emphasis? A lot more questions but I have this nagging feeling that if we could come up with the right questions, the one that would provide us with the answer we are looking for, we could identify those policies and practices that would take education forward and out of this loop we appear to be in.

Comments always welcome and so if I have stirred up your thinking let me know.

The School Staffroom



The value of the staffroom in schools (FREE CPD!)

There may be two polarised views about the staffroom in schools. On the one hand a place for gossip and rumour and possibly dissent to thrive and on the other hand a rich source of informal professional development, somewhere to unwind, and a communication centre. Of course it can be many things to many people but where does the balance sit in your school?

[There is now a shorter version of this post available on TeacherToolkit website. The link is ]

I was once told by a wise bursar that you can tell a lot about a school by the staff toilets. I think the same is true of the staffroom. In my experience you can make an initial guess at what the staffroom is to a school and what it provides by seeing who is there are key times of the day. If it is like the Mary Celeste for most of the day and you only find people there at time required by SLT and certainly not after the bell has gone at the end of the day you may decide that the staffroom is a waste of space. On the other hand if as soon as you open the door to the staffroom you are hit with a wall of chatter, people meeting and greeting each other and the smell of coffee you may regard it as one of the most important rooms in the school.

In my experience any school that abandons the staffroom does so at the risk of losing a great deal both in terms of staff cohesion and informal CPD. I know that in large schools travel to and from the staffroom may take some time and with short breaks and almost none existent lunch periods it is much easier for staff to ‘stay local’ as it were. Easier is not always better though and I would urge that arrangements are made to make the opportunity available for staff to get together in the staffroom once a day or at least a couple of times a week.  Of course with social media, texting and e-mails available people may argue the staffroom has had its day but where else can you inadvertently pick up what can be valuable information about what is going on, student issues and offer your help or advice to those staff facing challenges that may be new to them.

Staffroom dynamics have always been an interesting reflection of the attitudes and values of a school too. At one school I worked in each member of staff had ‘their seat’, and subjects ‘their corner’ of the staff room. Crossing these invisible boundaries was unheard of and on one occasion where I ‘mixed it up’ it caused some concern for a little while. I some schools it was seen as a sanctuary away from the leadership of the school and went strangely quiet if they entered and in others a collegiate melting pot where position or rank was regarded only after experience and value of advice or comment.

Fun, the lubricant of the teaching and learning engine.

One great advantage the staffroom has is that it can allow people to let their hair down a little and have some fun. Here are two examples from my own hands of using the staffroom for a little fun.

Training day


Imagine the summer term and the end of the academic year. Students started their holiday on Wednesday and teachers returned on Thursday for two days of training. Imagine how staff must have felt coming back to school on that first training day. L

Now imagine turning up to the staffroom to find a beach scene with palm plants (Blue Peter style), paddling pool, a crazy golf course, tunes of the Beach Boys playing and a certain member of staff in ‘wild’ Bermuda shorts and shirt with a drink in hand sitting under an umbrella. Well the look on staff faces as they came up to the staffroom was priceless, from a frown into a smile in an instant. The mood was set for the two days. I really should have told somebody though because the Head was a little nervous about what our guests would think when they saw it. We need not have worried, one rolled up his trousers and went paddling, and the other had a game of golf. Both said what a great way to inject a little fun and admitted they had been a little concerned about how staff would receive them with it being the end of busy term and staff tired.  Result J

Monthly Celebration

At a particularly stressful time for all during the opening of a new school with unfinished buildings and temporary accommodation resulting in a split site, the staffroom was a very important place. However on any given day there is always something to celebrate if you look hard enough (a ‘on this day’ search). For one day each month I found something to celebrate and turned this into a one lunch period celebration event. The event and its requirements need to be published ahead of time to give people time to plan and to have something to look forward to.

One example was the forming of the Bank of England 1694. With only a little money spent on cakes and a few photocopies little preparation was required.  The entry fee was by showing a pre decimal coin. This lead to some ingenuity by staff and forgeries were accepted!


So if you think your staffroom could play a much needed part in the life of your school perhaps you could start by celebrating something one lunch period each month and see how it goes.

If you want a few more ideas on how to make the most of the staffroom or want to share one of your own you can reach me at

For more details about my LQ concept and any of my other ideas and strategies for school improvement, training, and teacher coaching then drop me an e-mail and I will contact you to arrange a time to discuss your needs.

10 Ways to Explore Learning.

“Question. What are the 10 ways to explore learning?

Answer. As a teacher and as a student.”

This is a Tweet I posted a little while ago. I had seen that blogs that start with offering ten ways of doing something were popular, and since we all want to be popular I thought I would give it a go.

My twist was to take a sideways step in thinking, just what we sometimes need to do when teaching, and use “10” in binary notation instead of decimal. “10” in binary has a value of two and hence we get our answer – we can explore learning as 1) a teacher or 2) as a learner.


Well it was not re-tweeted, the sure sign that somebody else is not on the same wavelength. It must have fallen on deaf ears, gone over their heads or people just did not get it. I based my idea on the T shirt slogan which sells in the thousands so there must be a few people out there who get it you would think. (Picture acknowledgement:

I was sure it would attract the attention I was looking for and get the message across that teaching and learning often involves thinking outside of the box, looking at what is around you in a different way and seeing new meaning (in learning) or opportunities (for teaching). In other words: being creative

What is does show perhaps is the problem of disconnect, of not knowing your audience or where they are in their thinking. This for a teacher is a fundamental problem, getting to know who you are teaching is critical in forming the learning partnership. If you get it wrong then the outcome is often one which involves coerced learning rather than engaged learning. The classroom takes on the character of being teacher centred, (pushing the learning and the teacher taking responsibility for learning), rather than student centred (discovery and ownership of the learning).

So where does this leave me? It means I need to work harder and smarter at sharing my learning journey and understanding why what makes sense to me in my context may not work for others within their context. It means finding the right words and examples etc. to share my ideas in a way that others will see what it is I am driving at. This is very important to me in my attempt to bring to people the ideas behind the concept of LQ (Learning Intelligence). In teaching we use examples and metaphors to help explain, describe, or involve others in the learning all the time.

Something to think on.

What does it mean to us as teachers if we do not share the same contextual map that makes our explanations, descriptions, and metaphors relevant to those we are trying to teach?

Learning Intelligence (LQ) and Lesson Planning

The start of a new term or semester often means the start of a new module, new project, or chapter in learning for the student. It has also meant a lot of lesson planning for the teacher has already taken place and it is time to test out the material. There is a lot riding on how well this has been done, the resources collected together and how it will be introduced.  Get it right and you have engaged, interested, and enthusiastic learners. Get it wrong and the consequences range from disinterest to conflict and behaviour issues.

How can LQ play a part in lesson planning?

LQ round

 This question came about because of my current research and thinking for the LQ book I am presently working on.  Although I said I would not be posting anything new on LQ I wanted to “air” my ideas on this particular aspect of Teaching and Learning and see if there was any “feedforward.

We know that the successful teacher models learning behaviours. They often have a “project” in which they are involved, they are engaged in learning and remember what it feels like to learn something for the first time. These feelings often find their way into the planning cycle because the teacher will reflect on the experiences that will be faced by the students.

The teacher/learner is not merely presenting stuff to learn they understand they must guide the student through the learning experience too and their planning will reflect this. If you have read the earlier articles on LQ you will understand why I believe LQ thinking to be important when lesson planning.

Here is an LQ take on the lesson planning process.

(Heading in blue suggest LQ and those in red traditional planning considerations)

What do I need to teach is often the starting point.

What is the unit about, what will it cover and what do I want the students to learn? We can see aims and objectives being written in response to this question. No departure from normal lesson planning.

Where are my students?

What do they know and what “anchors” can I use to help “fix” the new learning? In other words prior learning, what do they know and how do I know what they know? A teacher should always start at this point, however, some assume rather than find out and this can mean bored learners or learners who are unable to access the learning. We are planning on poor foundations. No departure from good practice so far.

How do my students feel about what they have learnt already?

How confident are they in taking on a new challenge or applying what they know already? Will they be able to find the courage to try, to face possible struggles and in some cases failure at the first, second or even third attempt? Here we are beginning to open the LQ box of questions. To include this aspect in lesson planning is not too difficult and there are strategies that can be employed to help learners overcome confidence issues, to become learning heroes and understand the challenges faced in the quest to conquer the unknown or new.

How do I begin by sharing the learning challenges ahead?

In planning terms we may refer to this as the “Introduction” but only if we focus on the content and not the process. Sharing the challenges and involving the learner in planning to meet them is part of the LQ approach in planning and it is sometimes referred to as learner centred teaching.  New topics can be approached in a number of ways and asking the learners to identify the most appropriate (even if this involves an element of guiding) helps share the ownership and responsibility for learning.  It also develops LQ since lessons can be learnt from the how of learning as well as the knowledge or understanding itself. Sharing this aspect of planning is a little like offering a choice at meal time, it is difficult to push the plate away and say, “I don’t like this” when you have chosen it!

Here are some more LQ planning questions and requirements for you to consider:

  • How do I share my enthusiasm for this topic?
  • How do I elicit and include the ideas of the learners in my planning, preparation and resourcing?
  • How do I describe achievement and how will the students recognise it?
  • How do we work together to achieve and in doing so share the challenges?
  • What will my role be in the learning process be and how do I signal this to the students?
  • How will we celebrate achievement together and as individuals?
  • How does the student go about reviewing their achievement against their learning map (what they believe they can and cannot learn) in order to re draw it to include new information about themselves (LQ)?
  • What resources will be required to support them emotionally through the learning challenges?

LQ involves considering emotions and feeling about learning and coming to terms with them as a natural part of the learning environment.

One emotion that features a great deal at the start of something new is fear. Fear is often associated with rejection, of no longer being part of a group with which we want to be identified. If you have ever experienced rejection you will see why failure is so feared.

Having a sense of belonging* is one of our four basic needs as learners without it we find learning much harder. We need to recognise that this emotional state is often the starting point for many learners when faced with a new challenge. If we fail to consider it in our planning then we are being rather cruel and possibly limiting the success of learners.

I firmly believe LQ is an antidote to the fear of failure and leads to the sense of inclusion that builds belonging and leads to successful learning experiences.

If you want to find out more about LQ then follow this blog and Tweets from @4c3d. Please also remember if you would like to provide a workshop or organise a talk about LQ then your organisation can contact me by e-mail to make the necessary arrangements.

*Belonging is part of the “Please Be Child Friendly” approach developed by ace-d and stands for the 4 learning needs:

Power – Belonging – Choice and Fun.




How Can a Specialist Teaching Coach Help You? Signpost

A key part of being a teacher is being a learner yourself but what happens when you stop being a learner? As a teacher one use of coaching is to regain your view on the world as a learner. Another is to become a better teacher. This article looks at the “awkward” side of coaching, that of not being at your best, and shows how you can regain control and be the teacher you know you can be.

Let us explore some of the symptoms of what happens when, as a teacher, you stop being a learner.

Teaching is a “full on” job and can leave you tired, if not exhausted at times, meaning you can find yourself on the treadmill that is preparation, teaching, assessment, and reporting all too easily if you do not take time for yourself. You may feel that there is no option but to work harder and longer in order to get it all done. Instead of going out with friends and family do you find yourself staying in to mark work or plan lessons? Things get sacrificed as more and more of your time is taken up with the job of teaching and before you know it there is little room for anything else. Holidays and weekends become “catch up days” rather than a chance to recharge the batteries. At some point the pressure begins to invade your sleep and you may even lay awake planning lessons or reviewing the day you had and how to do it better next time.

You may come to realise that you are no longer a learner and just a teacher! There is no doubt that your teaching will suffer as a result of this.

Once you get into this position it is difficult to get out. The quality of your teaching and relationships with students suffers, as does the learning of the students. You may begin to experience behaviour problems from students in your lessons perhaps because you have lost your sense of fun. More and more things trigger your escalating need to be in control as you struggle to cope. Your capacity to deal with change becomes limited and you can find yourself doing more of what you are comfortable and familiar with rather than what needs to be done or try anything new. You rely more and more on routine and have less and less capacity for innovation. Simple questions can become challenges and interpreted as criticism as your confidence fades.

You may recognise yourself exhibiting these symptoms (or even colleagues) occasionally but what if it gets to be too much?

Once in this state lesson observation may not go as well as they used to adding to your growing frustration. Pressure can grow from the leadership of the school to maintain standards that were once easily within you reach as a teacher but which now form an almost impossible target. Achieving the standards required is increasingly difficult as you struggle to find the time and the energy you need. As your performance falls the number of lesson observations and the number of occasions your work is scrutinised increases causing further pressure. Offers of help are seen as threats and an effort to undermine your position even further. Ultimately there will be a price to be paid and this normally means your health and relationships suffer as you struggle more and more to do what once was well within your reach.

Where do you look for help?

There is a balance to be achieved if you are to be an effective teacher and continue to learn yourself. Achieving this balance is much easier when you work with somebody, somebody who can help you regain your perspective and help you to start being a learner and therefore an effective teacher once again. Finding a way out of the cycle is easier than you think, you just have to make the first step, that of realising the position you are in.

Arranging for help is not a sign of weakness, it is actually a sign of strength, of wanting to fight back and regain your perspective, life, and health and once again enjoy your teaching. The alternative is to accept that you cannot do anything about your position and let the consequences lead where they may.

Working with a specialist teaching coach can be the best way for you to regain the balance you need.

Here is a genuine review written by a teacher when they looked back having received coaching from ace-d. It demonstrates the challenges they faced and how they successfully found a way to regain their perspective and once again enjoy their teaching.

“When my Deputy Head announced that I was to work with Kevin, I was sceptical to say the least. What he had to say was great, in theory, but I never imagined that it would work in practice. I guess, that not believing that my current situation could be resolved by anything, other than me resigning from my post, made it more difficult for me to try out the strategies. Initially, they didn’t work. And they won’t, unless you change attitude. ‘It is not what you do, but how you do it that makes the difference.’

 Thanks to Kevin’s coaching, ten months down the line, I have a different approach to teaching. I work smarter, and when I started to believe in the strategies, and wanted them to work, they did, to my surprise. It felt good. All of a sudden, I got respect. I learnt that it was ok to say no; that I had a right to be heard and that not everything requires 100% effort. Most importantly, I started to respect myself, and my own time. It is about balance. It is about ‘What’s best for me?’ I have begun to change my work/life ratio, and am still working on it.  More to the point, I have discovered that I like it when I am not working; as in itself, it isn’t the only thing that defines who I am.

I am thrilled that I gave the coaching a chance, and am grateful for the new perspective that I now have of teaching.”

As you can see there is an alternative, you do not have to put up with decreasing amounts of “me” time or time with family and friends. Nor do you have to face mounting pressure alone. You can once more become the learner and the teacher you once were by taking control.

Is the time right for you to explore being coached?

However you go about making this transformation it is much better to work with somebody who has the strategies and experience to guide you successfully through the challenges you will undoubtedly face. As you saw in the example from a teacher who went through this process there comes a time when you want to take back control, when you change your attitude to your situation. A time when you want to be with family and friends without feeling guilty about the work waiting for you when you get back.  A time when you don’t want to get that sinking feeling on Sunday evening because of the week ahead anymore.

Are you there yet or do things have to get worse before you do something about it?

You may think that only you know the answer to this question but my advice is to ask those around you, your friends, and your family what they think.

How do you find the right coach and how do you arrange the sessions?

Successful coaching does not have to involve a direct meeting with the coach nor does it mean an added burden to cope with or fit in. Arranged correctly coaching is a supportive process. Coaching can be arranged across the internet at a time to suit you and in an environment you prefer. Of course the key aspects are finding a coach who understands you and your situation and who you feel comfortable working with and can develop confidence in.  Reputable coaching services will always provide an initial discussion for free during which you and your coach can make a decision about the partnership. It is important it is the right partnership for both parties if it is to be a successful experience.

Whatever you decide ace-d will be there for you when the time is right for you. For more details of the ace-d coaching arrangements please get in touch or explore coaching on the website

The sixth LQ review: What LQ means for the teacher.

Can we face up to and meet the challenge that LQ lays down when so many education systems are under pressure to perform and achieve results?

learning targets

In the article “The LQ Rich Environment” ( I said the following:

“My belief is also that if you make the learner aware of the challenges presented by their learning environment and help them develop the tools and skills to manage it in a way that meets their learning needs they will develop strengths or abilities in many more areas. The challenge to the teacher then is not to teach in a manner that seeks to meet significant strengths or preferences that have been developed (thereby further promoting them) but to provide the conditions whereby the learner is guided and given permission to go exploring their learning needs and how to meet them.”

In most education systems, especially those that are target/grade focused, this is a significant challenge. I believe we are beginning to see creative ways this can be accomplished. The ‘flipped lesson’ is one example of where the teacher is creating an opportunity for the learner to explore the learning in a way that meets their own needs. Where in the past we may have used the term ‘differentiation’ and gone about trying to achieve this by attempting to meet everyone’s learning needs in the space of a single lesson, technology is now allowing us to have a lesson of almost infinite length. More than this though it allows for ‘anytime anywhere learning’, a concept which is very much in line with LQ since it is the simplest definition of the term Learning Intelligence we can have. Being able to learn when it suits us best is when there is a need established. This ‘need’ can happen at any time and can be part of the strategy of the teaching and learning or naturally occurring through the learner’s curiosity being piqued.

Although the strength and power of the LQ concept relies on a personal responsibility to manage the learning environment yourself we cannot ignore the teacher’s role in developing the confidence in the learner to explore and begin to understand LQ. The term that has been used to describe this role for the teacher is “The guide at your side” and the flipped lesson embodies this approach. The challenge is providing the resources necessary to support the teaching in such a way. It will be interesting to see how these resources develop. One concern I have is the lack of ‘personalisation’ that may occur as this approach moves out of the hands of the individual teacher and into the commercial industry that supports education. My example would be the use of interactive whiteboards in classrooms. Early adopters of this technology developed their own resources to support their lessons, their teaching styles, and the needs of the learners they were teaching. Early adopters are normally characterised by their enthusiasm and energy for new developments and will put in the time required to explore and learn what can be done. Others who follow are not as adept at the technology and want something ‘off the shelf’. In my experience this does not always work out well for the teacher, they have not fully embraced or understood the needs of the new approach and it falls flat. The approach is derided and a return to the old ways is ‘proven’ to be the best way in their eyes.    We have to ask where this will leave the learner. A teacher who sees requests, questions, and enquiries about how they are being taught from learners as a personal challenge will do nothing to develop LQ in their students. Unless we develop in learners an understanding of LQ I believe they will be confused, a confusion that could bring about more harm than good.

I therefore argue that we cannot successfully change the learning environment and therefore learning without equipping the learner at the same time with an understanding of LQ.  LQ will help them make sense of new learning opportunities both through managed lessons and those made available through technology (anytime anywhere learning) in a way that helps them re draw their learning map (what they believe they can and cannot learn).

Developing LQ in learners can range from little more than a discussion about how they feel when learning something and bringing out into the open the anxiety, stress, lack of confidence and impact on self-esteem that forms part of the emotional landscape at this time. It needs to include a discussion and exploration of learning needs and understanding of how these come. Developing LQ can go as far as the learner preparing their own learning resource both for themselves and, if we extend this process, for others who share the same learning needs.

What developing LQ in learners means for the teacher is having the confidence to first research and explore for themselves their own LQ and relate it to how they learn and manage their learning environment. It is worth exploring a learning styles analysis along with a teaching styles analysis. Both are available on line from a number of sources. The one I use is available from  Creative Learning.

The next step is to find creative ways of starting a discussion about learning needs and the emotions involved in learning. Few teachers actually explore this as part of the teaching and learning which strikes me as odd. We take our time to teach so many aspects and provide encouraging comments as we do so each time failure is encountered in everyday life yet when it comes to teaching we appear to forget to teach about learning and instead focus on subject matter.

Moving on from this point will involve changes in the approach to teaching and learning and this may face challenges from within an organisation and even from those learners who have not understood the advantages and application of LQ to their learning. It may be seen as a waste of time or being off task but actually it is neither. I think of it as putting in place base camps as if I were climbing a mountain such as Everest. Each camp is strategically placed and resourced in order to support a successful attempt on the mountain in the most efficient and safe way possible. Time taken to establish these base camps is far from wasted and ultimately secures the success looked for.

 The next LQ review and what to look forward to

I have published an article each week since the beginning of August and there are now 20 of them to discover. I am now focusing on putting together the LQ guide and will spend the next 4 months organising my thoughts and researching. This means I will have to suspend the weekly article for now. This is not to say there will be nothing new posted on my blog, it is hard to ignore and not make comment on some of the things happening in the world of education.  I will be able to answer any comments or questions about LQ so if you have them e-mail me or leave a comment on the blog and I will answer them.

Please also remember if you would like to provide a workshop or organise a talk about LQ then your organisation can contact me by e-mail to make the necessary arrangements.

The fifth LQ Review: A little more about the learning environment.

personalised learning environment

We instinctively know that tour learning environment is important to us because we try to create that which is comfortable and avoid that which is uncomfortable. This leads us to a question about our learning environment, just what is it? Take a moment to answer the following question.

What makes up or is part of your learning environment?

a)      The “landscape” (buildings, rooms, outdoor spaces, light, sound, temperature, furniture)

b)      The people (teachers, parents, other learners)

c)       Your  learning map (what you believe you can and cannot learn)

d)      Your emotions (those we recognise as influencing our learning. For example feeling confident.)

e)      Other  (please let me know if you believe there is another element to our learning environment)

What decision did you reach? My belief is that it is a) through to d) but I am not ruling out anything else that comes along. For example the presence of technology, now such a large part of our lives, has made a significant impact on our learning environment. We can have “anytime, anywhere learning” through appropriate use of technology.

lQ graphic 6

In this review of LQ I want to look at a slightly different aspect of the learning environment, one where people are the focus. People can cause a number of issues in the learning equation in the same way as our physical environment can. For example a chair may be uncomfortable and cause us to fidget or lose concentration in the same way as the actions or behaviours of others can achieve the same effect. People can make us feel insecure or embarrassed one the one hand and on the other confident and brave.

In the possible answers to the question of “What makes up or is part of your learning environment?” only one element is the physical aspects of the environment. In the remaining three options two are accounted for by your interaction with people. It is safe then to consider the need to have some understanding of people and specifically your emotions when interacting with people when seeking to manage your learning environment.

The concept of emotional intelligence as defined by Daniel Goleman [i] is now recognised as a key aspect of understanding a child’s success in the classroom. When we are stressed, placing our emotional centres in turmoil, we do not learn easily or well. Here is a question and answer from the website [ii]

“Q: Is EI (emotional Intelligence) also crucial to a student’s success in the classroom? And if so, why?

A: EI is crucial for all life success, including for students in the classroom, because of the basic design of the brain.  Our emotions evolved as a tool for survival, and today emotions have a privileged position in the brain.  When we are upset the emotional centers can hijack the thinking centers, rendering us unable to think clearly, focus on the task at hand, perceive in an undistorted manner, and even make it harder to remember what’s relevant to what we’re doing (instead we remember easily anything about what’s upsetting us). So whether in the workplace or the classroom, managing our emotions is the prerequisite to learning and focus.”

EQ or “EI” is well documented and to ignore its impact on learning and the learning environment would be to ignore a key element in managing the learning environment and in understanding LQ. Being aware of your own emotions is only part of the LQ equation; you need to be aware of the emotions of others too. In short you need to be able to “read” other people, to recognise the behaviours and signals that give away how they are feeling and perhaps why they are behaving as they are. When we get this wrong our world can turn upside down in an instant. Further it can have long lasting effects on how we interact with our learning environment, sometimes making us withdraw altogether. Have you ever mis-read the signals from a parent, teacher or boss and “gone too far” before you realised it?

Earlier I wrote about how the learner needs to find ways of approaching the teacher that can help them acquire the support they need and avoid possible conflict. Some approaches made by inexperienced learners can be interpreted as a challenge. I also reminded teachers to be ready to listen and not to judge or jump to conclusions.  Both are important aspects of the learning environment and both underline how important emotions are in that landscape.

I also mentioned how subtle the clues in individuals can be, especially at the early stages of display.  For example we are all well aware of body language and can recognise displays of anger, fear, surprise, or love. What if these displays, however subtle, leave a “fingerprint“?  What if there are clues we all carry which indicate traits we are prone to demonstrate? Being able to recognise the subtle markers of likely behaviours can help us navigate around those that have a negative impact on our learning and head for those that support us.

I have also commented on how we use our senses and how we interpret and diagnose by using them. In an earlier LQ article I also made the point that “Being aware of those around us, their behaviours, and emotions is part of our general survival toolkit. Not recognising when those around us sense danger could result in us being left behind so we are wired to respond in some way to others around us.”

A discussion with Alan Stevens [iii] who is described as a “face reader” and a recognised authority in his field came about as I was preparing this review of LQ learning environment article. His work is inspiring, especially for those who are working closely and collaboratively with people. As we talked a number of questions came to mind about things such as:

  • nature and nurture influences
  • when and if we get “hard wired” in our emotional responses
  • is the face the window to the soul, do those facial muscles we use most often become more highly developed and change our appearance as a body builder attempts to do with their body
  • what do you do when you recognise something in someone when they do not recognise it in themselves
  • what about the issues surrounding prediction by reading somebody?

You can see my talk with Alan got my grey cells working. I would say I was using my LQ to explore a new learning landscape that was opening up to me.  I am now faced with questions about such things as “micro expressions” and their impact in the learning environment (both for the learner and the teacher).

A key area for me to explore in relation to LQ is what happens if the teacher is not expressing or displaying the micro expressions expected by the learner and as a result sets up an emotional imbalance in the learner. Can this inhibit learning? We know anything that negatively impacts our emotions inhibits learning so the answer would be yes, but what to do about it.  What can the learner do and what can the teacher do to address this imbalance and stabilise the learning environment? The first step must be to explore and understand these expressions and which ones match which situations. We know teaching is an art involving acting and acting involves duplicating emotions and expressions at will to suit a character or role. The better we are at acting the more believable our character is.  The next question is what the teacher can do with the “intelligence” or information they receive as a result of accurately reading people. It would in effect cut the “getting to know you time” at the start of a course or term by many weeks and help establish working learning partnerships much earlier.  Exciting times and I would recommend you check out Alan’s work.

A word about the courses and presentations I have developed around the LQ concept.

Having recently used the principles of LQ in coaching learners in literacy and numeracy I know LQ “works” and  it brings about improvements in learning. Two presentations which can be part of a morning course if required are available. One is aimed at teachers and will develop the insight and tools necessary to promote LQ in learners and the second focuses on developing an understanding of LQ and the implications for learning in pupils/students (this can be customised for learners from the age of 9 up to adults). If you are interested in finding out more about the LQ presentations or courses then please contact me at ace-d. My e-mail is:

Link to the original LQ article

Developing Learning Intelligence

[i] Emotional Intelligence       Daniel Goleman Random House Publishing Group, 2012

The fourth LQ review: The learning environment & flipped learning

flipped learning

It was inevitable that LQ should at some point discuss the flipped class or flipped learning because it focuses on changing the learning environment and LQ is all about the learning environment. If you have followed the earlier articles on LQ  ( you will know that the definition of LQ is the ability of the learner to manage the learning environment to meet their learning needs. With the flipped class we are seeing a change in the learning environment, possibly a leaking of learning from within the school into the world. A world that through technology and as a result of technology is now more accessible to many learners. A world where they can decide when and where to learn, the pace of learning, explore questions they may have as a result of what they have learnt and if necessary pause, fast forward or rewind and even re-order the learning. A world where they do not have to stop and start thinking on the ringing of a bell as well as navigate the structures, rituals and customs that are such an inherent part of our school systems.

The success of the flipped class is in part due to this change and the technology that allows teachers to find, create, and use online materials to reach and enable learners.

The two people credited with being pioneers in this concept of “turning learning on its head”  are Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams (Jon’s website site[i] ). There is a useful article written by Jon and others which states what flipped learning is and is not[ii].

This article starts amusingly with a statement of the “traditional definition of a flipped class”; to consider using the term “traditional” so soon in its evolution perhaps shows the pace of development in this form of learning.

Flipped learning

What is it is NOT:

  • A synonym for online videos. When most people hear about the flipped class all they think about are the videos. It is the interaction and the meaningful learning activities that occur during the face-to-face time that is most important
  • About replacing teachers with videos
  • An online course
  • Students working without structure
  • Students spending the entire class staring at a computer screen
  • Students working in isolation

What it IS:

  • A means to INCREASE interaction and personalized contact time between students and teachers
  • An environment where students take responsibility for their own learning
  • A classroom where the teacher is not the “sage on the stage,” but the “guide on the side.”
  • A blending of direct instruction with constructivist learning
  • A classroom where students who are absent due to illness or extra-curricular activities such as athletics or field-trips, don’t get left behind
  • A class where content is permanently archived  for review or remediation
  • A class where all students are engaged in their learning
  • A place where all students can get a personalized education

To me this emphasises and describes the landscape of the learning environment created by flipped learning.  It does however also demonstrate the need to develop LQ in learners. In an article in which Jon presents 10 questions to ask before flipping the learning[iii] he asks the following questions.

How will you teach your students how to watch your video content for comprehension?”

“How will you communicate to your students about how Flipped Learning will change their experience at school?”

Both of these questions are directly linked to the idea of developing LQ in learners. Both show the importance of LQ in adapting to new learning landscape. Here is an extract from “The biggest hurdle to flipping your class” [iv]where Jon describes the response of a student to this new challenge.

I was relieved to see students taking ownership for their learning. For example, I had one student who during the first semester was not really taking class seriously. She struggled to learn in our Flipped-Mastery Model because it required her to actually learn the content. She wanted to just get by instead of engage in the content. I insisted that she learn the material before she moved on. Sometime in January, I noticed a change in her. She was learning! In fact she was learning how to learn. During one conversation with her, I commented on the positive change I saw in her and told her how I was proud of her newfound success. To that she remarked, “You know what, Mr. Bergmann, I found it was actually easier if I learned it right the first time.” I chuckled, but also saw great growth in this student as she was really learning how to learn.”

I would say the learner became aware of their ability to manage their own learning and in doing so found in themselves the skills, attitudes and attributes of LQ. Perhaps Jon’s realisation that he “..  needed to get away from being a teacher who disseminates content, and instead become a learning facilitator and coach” is the underlining and highlighting of the importance of LQ in today’s learning environment which is not any longer a walled garden there to protect and nurture young learners and instead is a wide landscape where a learning compass, map and guide are more useful and important.

So if we flip the learning – then what? We are in part left with a question also raised in the previous article “What is the best use of class time?” So what do you use class time for?

a)      dissemination (imparting knowledge or skill)
b)      checking on learning (assessment for learning)
c)       motivating (encouraging, improving self-esteem etc.)
d)      removing barriers to learning (providing resources, differentiation, supporting access)
e)      helping learners become better learners (learning to learn)
f)       other – (please let me know)

The traditional model of education which uses class time for subject based learning is in many cases “crowded” because it is trying to involve or include all of the above. The strain on the teacher is immense not only because they are trying to do all of the above but also because they are planning and delivering. I liken this to a sort of symphony of teaching and learning with the teacher as the conductor and player of nearly all the instruments. The beat of the lesson cannot be interrupted or messed with without disharmony and certainly  without the desire to do it again or to go back to the start until everyone is in time. The single chime of the triangle at the wrong moment can ruin everything.  Traditionally (there is that word again!) homework has been the tool used to overcome some of the difficulties in creating and maintaining the learning environment with everyone in step and on the same page. Our next question must then be “What do you use homework for?” Is it for any of the following?

a)      to add to the learning (depth or range)
b)      to reinforce the learning (practice)
c)       extending the school day (more time)
d)      to make up for a lack of effort in class time (punishment!)
e)      to challenge the learner to show what they know and understand
f)       an opportunity to engage with adults and share learning (reinforcement)
g)      repetition of mindless tasks best done at home
h)      to demonstrate the importance of a subject (the more homework is set the higher the status)
i)        to show how good the school is (the more homework the better the school)
j)        other – (once again – please let me know)

Traditional homework is often patchy, some do it, some do it well, and some get others to do it. Then there are those who don’t do it at all! To the teacher this is another member of the orchestra they need to manage, to plan for and to check up on. Often the learner does not see the value in this type of extended learning environment and perhaps because a lack of LQ development does not have the skills, or attributes to make good use of the learning opportunity. As a teacher and as a parent I can attest to all of these uses of homework and the difficulties homework causes.

I think the roots of flipped lessons and flipped learning can be traced to the conflicts and difficulties of traditional lessons and the traditional homework model. It is a solution, aided and supported by technology, to overcoming the pressure on class time and the resulting learning environment and the need to effectively support the opportunities for learners to use non class time to personalise their learning. What is missing from this equation of 21st century learning is the need to develop LQ, to support learners in developing the skills, attitudes and attributes to manage their learning environment effectively to meet their own learning needs and then to demonstrate their understanding.

LQ round

Developing LQ will assist the flipped class or flipped learning becoming more than it is because it will help learners take real ownership of not only the learning but how it is presented, managed, planned, and created. In doing so it will create the opportunity in class time for the teacher to focus on those four very important learning needs, the other “basics” that often get forgotten but  which are fundamental and based around building learning relationships with learners. For more on “Understanding Learning Needs” see my e-book by the same title

More about LQ

I am available for conferences, workshops, plenaries, online training, course design, webinars, and consulting. Your organisation can reach me at to discuss arrangements.

The third LQ Review: A little more about “Self”

What happens when you are not yourself?

A good question and one that takes us back to the link between LQ and “self”. This time I explore how our “self” may be more a reflection of others than a reflection of our passions and drives.

In the article about “Self” and LQ published earlier I referred to Bruce Hood’s comments on the concept of self.

  • The concept of ‘self’ is not associated with any organ in the body other than the brain
  • There is no ‘self’ centre in the brain
  • We have an image of ‘self’ that we develop
  • ‘Self’ is a reflection and can change according to your social environment
  • ‘Self’ is a set of behaviours others are accustomed to
  • ‘Self’ appears to provide some behavioural control function

I was challenged as to how this fitted in with the work of Boyatzis[i] and his model of Intentional Change (no, I had not heard of his work before either and so thank you principledlearning !). I have not fully explored his work yet, and perhaps discussing it is foolish as it exposes my level of understanding and lays me open to being criticized (but how does learning happen without risk?). Two points have stood out for me so far. First there is an acceptance of the existence of self. Secondly he has divided self into “ideal self” (who do I want to be and is a result of both the inner self and societies influence) and “ought self” (influenced by others or a desire to please others – peer pressure influences “ought self”).  In his diagram “Theory of Self-Directed Learning” he shows the need for a support system needed to help in the transition of the real self into the ideal self.

Internal Change Theory

Traditionally I would claim that we often look outwardly and not inwardly in developing these support stems, we look to others to help us change “self.” If we accept “self” is characterised by behaviours such as patience, ‘cleverness’, confidence, resilience, and others then what we are seeking is to change our behaviours. By building relationships with others who possibly exhibit those things, those behaviours which we see as characteristics of “self”, which we wish to be part of our “ideal self”, we may believe we can be like them. Then use of sports coaches who themselves are past masters of their sport is commonplace in top level sport. The problem may arise when there is no one within our current environment with whom we can build such a relationship, and one that genuinely defines who that other person is rather than perceived. We could build the support systems on false beliefs about the other person because we have no genuine relationship with them. We may idolise a sports person or actor and wish ourselves to be like them but we have no way of really knowing who they are. We could build an “ideal self” based on their outward behaviours, wishing to copy them but not knowing the motivation or events which shape them. We do not see the hard work, dedication, failures they have experienced and challenges that they have faced and overcome. The consequence might be that we omit these characteristics from our “ideal self” forming an image or behaviours without foundation or depth and easily challenged. This dependence on others also opens the way for significant people within our environment to have a profound impact on who we are, our “ought self.” Boyatsiz highlights how the “ought self” is the view of your “ideal self” held by others. How others wish to see you, their goals for you and not your calling or passion.

Is the basis of many education systems not based on the “ought self”?  Do we ask learners to conform, to exhibit behaviours, to have goals which we set for them? Have our goals for them become corrupted through standardisation and target setting, are they now no more than grades or scores? Something to reflect on and so is the consequences of what happens when the “ought self” is removed or an individual fails to achieve the goals set by others. Perhaps it exposes the weaknesses in a target orientated education system that does not seek to develop the individual but instead require only a demonstration of what is required by the system.

I would claim that the development and application of LQ provides an inward support system, a genuine system, and one from within. The ideal self says this is who I want to be and LQ explores ways that can both achieve and sustain that change. LQ can help the learner take from their environment and relationships with others those things that supports their inner vision, their “ideal self.” LQ shows it is okay to fail, to struggle and that both are a part of learning. LQ helps to look at those to whom we aspire to be like and exposes the struggles and challenges they face in being who they are. The sports person, who practices long hours and who recovers from injury and battles to win is seen for who they are and there is an understanding of what must be done to achieve the same success or recognition.

In relation to developing and implementing LQ I can see a number of useful building blocks within the model of Intentional Change, it certainly provides a language with which to discuss and describe the actions needed to work towards developing LQ to manage your environment to meet your needs. As to whether the “self” exists and if there is an “ideal self” and “ought self” in some ways does not matter, one again it provides for the language we need to develop those attitudes and behaviours that make taking ownership of learning that much easier.

A word about the courses and presentations I have developed around LQ.

Having recently used the principles of LQ in coaching learners in literacy and numeracy I know LQ “works” and  it brings about improvements in learning. Two presentations which can be part of a morning course if required are available. One is aimed at teachers and will develop the insight and tools necessary to promote LQ in learners and the second focuses on developing an understanding of LQ and the implications for learning in pupils/students (this can be customised for learners from the age of 9 up to adults). If you are interested in finding out more about the LQ presentations or courses then please contact me at ace-d. My e-mail is:

Link to the original article on Learning Quotient

LQ teacher

The Second LQ Topic Review -LQ and the Effects on Learning

brain neuron

The “nurture and nature” debate is a long running one and one I want to only briefly explore in this article which brings together the “attributes and attitudes” discussion and the impact on learning and therefore LQ.

This is the second LQ topic review post. Here is the link to the original introductory article on LQ in case you missed it:

Earlier articles have looked at the attributes, attitudes and behaviours linked to LQ and how, by adopting an LQ approach, the learner can better manage their learning environment to meet their learning needs.

In many articles I have concluded by saying what a particular aspect of LQ means for the teacher and for the learner. So far I have not specifically mentioned the parent, and although I recognise the significant role they play in educating their children. Parents are in many ways “teachers” and so the comments about teachers are relevant to them. Parents do, however, not only play a part in providing a nurturing environment they provide the biological elements that make up the child, they provide the DNA from which the child is formed. At birth we are often quick to see physical traits and attribute these to either the mothers or fathers family. As the child grows behaviour traits may be attributed in the same way, “You are just like your father/mother

The extent to which behaviours are learnt or to which they are genetically “pre-programmed”, like the colour of our eyes, is difficult to determine. The fact that some behaviours can be changed and “un learnt,” even though we may be disposed towards them, suggests there is something we can do about them. A simple case which may demonstrate this is hand preference, that of being left or right handed. We know that although we can show a preference for which hand we use and that the early preference can be either allowed to become a dominant characteristic or it can be over ridden.  In some cases making ‘naturally’ left handed people develop “right handedness”. Exploring how the brain accommodates these changes and adapts may shed some light on how we can adapt to our learning environment and the process by which we can promote some aspects of learning and subdue others in order to become effective learners within the environment.

Such a discussion may undermine the nature aspect of our capacity to learn, but only if we see this ability as fixed at birth and not, as the example of handedness would suggest, that the brain is plastic and can be ‘re programmed‘.


In exploring this concept of the “plastic brain” we move into the realms of neuroscience. This is an area which is often defined as “Understanding the mental processes involved in learning.” [i] In the summary of the publication Brain Waves Module 2 (2011) the Royal Society both offers optimism and caution for neuroscience.

  • The brain changes constantly as a result of learning, and remains ‘plastic’ throughout life. Neuroscience has shown that learning a skill changes the brain and that these changes revert when practice of the skill ceases. Hence ‘use it or lose it’ is an important principle for lifelong learning.
  • Both acquisition of knowledge and mastery of self-control benefit future learning. Thus, neuroscience has a key role in investigating means of boosting brain power.
  • There is great public interest in neuroscience; yet accessible high quality information is scarce. We urge caution in the rush to apply so-called brain-based methods, many of which do not yet have a sound basis in science. There are inspiring developments in basic science although practical applications are still some way off.
  • The emerging field of educational neuroscience presents opportunities as well as challenges for education. It provides means to develop a common language and bridge the gulf between educators, psychologists and neuroscientists.

My particular cautionary note about neuroscience and learning is that whilst we seek to find out why some learners find learning a challenge, and can exhibit behaviours that suggest they cannot learn, we are determining this view from within the educational environment we have created.

The “one size fits all” approach that many education systems are built upon results in individual learners being made to learn the same things in the same way. In other words because the learner does not fit the model of education we have determined then there must be a way of changing the learner to fit the model. Whilst you may say this is what LQ is doing the difference is that the learner is determining these changes for themselves. Using the right/left hand analogy, they are choosing to use their right or left hand according to which best suits them at the time and not being permanently made to write with one hand because that is the standard way of doing things. I know of a PE teacher who can bat equally well left or right handed. This gives him a significant advantage when faced with a right or left hand bowler, one he often uses to his to benefit.

The optimism behind LQ and supported by neuroscience is that we can learn to adapt to our learning environment in a way that makes it possible to overcome barriers to learning, “it is necessary to identify the specific barriers to learning for that person, and find alternative ways.”[ii] LQ  is part of the response to understanding our learning environment and then to learn how best we can manage that environment to meet our needs, to find alternative ways. For example if all the scissors are for right handed people and we are left handed we have a choice:

a) learn to use right handed scissors in our left hand

b) learn to use our right hand to operate the scissors or

c) develop or use another way of cutting, possibly with a knife which is neither right or left handed.

I have omitted getting somebody else to use the scissors and cut whatever it is for us but although that is a valid option it is delegation and incapacitates the individual if no one else is around.  A longer term solution may be to develop left handed scissors thus demonstrating the link between LQ and problem solving as a way of managing the learning environment.

Being aware to LQ and practicing using it to manage our learning environment to best meet our learning needs means we develop that ability and keep it. We become better learners as a result.

[i] The Royal Society 2011, Brain Waves Module 2: Neuroscience: implications for learning and lifelong learning

[ii] The Royal Society 2011, Brain Waves Module 2: Neuroscience: implications for learning and lifelong learning. Page 6

The first LQ Topic Review – LQ and the School Environment.

school environment

How we manage the school day, the environment that creates and the impact on the learner.

Schools are a solution to a problem but no solution is without compromise. So let us start by exploring the design specification for schools before we seek to explore the compromises and the impact they may have in making the school environment so debilitating for some learners.

  • Schools must cater for large numbers of pupils of various ages and find a way of managing them that makes teacher/learner interaction possible in a meaningful way.
  • A variety of learning content needs to be broken down into manageable elements and presented for learning in a manner which provides for progression in terms of skill and understanding.
  • It is necessary to monitor the progress made by learners in order to inform further teacher/learner interaction and keep records for reference and reporting.
  • The environment should provide for the wellbeing of the learner including such aspects as shelter, lighting, sanitation, and safety.
  • Resources to support learning need to be available and accessible.

From this specification we can imagine all sorts of schools from a gathering under a bridge [i] to the most sophisticated hi-tech modern buildings[ii]. Each is a solution to the problem based on the specification and each creates its own learning environment (not just the space but everything that provides for an element of the specification). These environments suit some more than others and some do better in such environments than others. The solutions become more complex the more learning variables we try to accommodate within the environment. There are a number of common solutions to this specification familiar to almost every person who has been to school. These include:

  • a timetable of some form, at least a start and end to the school day and perhaps breaks between learning sessions
  • learning topics broken down and presented as discrete subjects such as maths, the native language, science etc.
  • groups of learners of approximately the same age (within a chronological year for most schools, smaller schools may have broader age groups) and given the term “class”
  • a director of learning who manages the class, normally referred to as “the teacher”, who also monitors progress and keeps records of achievement.

There are exceptions to this model but they are not the majority. For most this model represents the best way of doing things and has been constantly refined and added to over the years. Is it the best model to provide a learning environment suitable for every learner though and is it possible to do such a thing? This question is at the very heart of the concept of LQ.

Let me give you an example of how this model can result in a learning environment that is at least debilitating for some learners and possibly toxic for others.

Born out of compromise perhaps here is the result.

What was once the “working week” will be replicated by the “school week” and consist of five days. The length of the school day will be based on the working day and be of such length as to occupy children from early morning to late afternoon. What is to be learnt will be broken down into subjects and each subject will be allocated a percentage of the school week (a number of lessons) depending on some form of hierarchy of importance. A timetable will be devised to match teachers with learners and provide suitable accommodation in line with the subject requirements. Learners will be expected to follow the timetable and arrive at each lesson with the necessary personal resources to engage in the learning. At key points assessments will take place to determine who has learnt what. Departments will be formed and consist of teachers of the same or allied subjects and areas of the school will be nominated as bases for these departments.

Now I want to stop and consider the impact on the learner of this compromise learning environment. To do this I am going to describe a small scale piece of action research I carried out in a school not too long ago. My aim was to determine what impact this type of environment had on the learner and to see what could be done to improve the learning outcomes.

Firstly I chose a learner based on conversations with teachers and something called CAT’s, a form of cognitive test which eliminated prior performance in providing an indication of potential. I was looking for a learner who was  underachieving but who was not demonstrating any challenging behaviour either. They could be described as a “compliant under achiever” perhaps. (see the article “Is Compliance a Learning Disability?”)

Having found such a person I arranged to follow their class for the entire school day. I arranged the day so that no individual (student or teacher) felt as though they were being observed directly or individually and no notes were made during the periods of observation. The day started with registration with the first teacher of the day, the Form Tutor. After registration the class were sent off to make their way to the first of four lessons which made up the morning period. Logistics played an important part in the day, getting from classroom to classroom on time and with the appropriate resources. The problem was there was no time allowed within the timetable for “travelling time.” Not everyone arrived at the same time making a prompt start for the teacher difficult. The class were settled down and the rigor of the lesson started. There were learning objectives to be explained, tasks to do and notes to make. The teachers had carefully planned their lessons and almost every minute was accounted for. Things happen though, they always do in lessons, and on occasions the carefully planned activities ran a little late. On occasion homework was hastily written down as the class were leaving. It was important not to be late to the next lesson. A morning break and short lunch period provided the only time the class were not with a teacher.

A typical day for a learner so what happened to my compliant under achiever. Well they managed to get through most of the day without too much trouble. They lost their pen after the first lesson and so had nothing to write with and when they asked to borrow one they were admonished in each lesson thereafter. No lesson ended in a way which prepared them for the next one and so stress levels built as the day progressed. The overall impression of the day was one of rushing and segmentation. In the space of 10 minutes the learner could go from thinking about maths to drama. They received little interaction with the teachers, as there was no obvious need; they did as they were told. However not all the work was complete or even scrutinised in any meaningful way (from the learner’s perspective). The teachers were not “poor” teachers; they prepared well, had suitable resources, and managed the class effectively. The day focused on learning subject materials, as we would expect in such a model. At some point no doubt there would be work handed in, scrutinised and marked giving feedback and comment to aid further learning.

Why then did the student I was following end the day by having a fight with a classmate over a pen? Even more importantly why were they underachievers?  Essentially I would conclude that they did not have the skills or understanding to manage their learning environment to meet their learning needs. The result was a student stressed enough to hit another student and who made little progress throughout the day. In many senses of the word they were just “coping” with school.

What would I do differently and how can LQ help? Two good questions to which I would like to give you the answers but I am not! Ask yourself what were the environmental conditions that could be alleviated and how would you go about it. Secondly put yourself in the shoes of that learner and think what strategies you could use to overcome the environmental learning limitations. Sometimes the answers are rather simple, like carry two pens not one! Sometimes they are a little more complicated and require the application of attributes and attitudes associated which are part of LQ.

What this means for the Teacher

Whilst lessons must have objectives think about the learning day and not just the lesson. Plan to include a welcoming start and an end that prepares the learner for what comes next. This requires a view of the learning day as a whole rather than a subject based view and consideration of the impact on the learner of the learning environment. Two of the “Teaching Ideas” series cover these points[iii].

Breaks of sufficient length are required between learning activities. Such breaks are effective in setting the pace of the day and no one learns if they are stressed. If you do not recognise this then I suggest you arrange to follow a student for a school day.

Have a discussion with colleagues about how effective the timetable is in managing the learning environment. Perhaps there are other ways or at the very least things that can be done within the present constraints to help in improving the learning environment.

Be flexible, if there is not enough time to deliver a lesson according to your plan – improvise.

Plan lessons not only according to content but also to accommodate the periods in between learning. The time needed for reflection and internalisation of learning is as important as the act of being engaged in directed learning. Standing back and observing is as important in teaching as lesson planning. This can be summed up as the “BME” (Beginning, Middle, and End) approach. The teacher is responsible for and directs these key times in a lesson, at all other times it is the learner’s responsibility and the teacher adopts the role of observer, guide, or coach. It is not the quality of the planning that counts, it is the quality of learning that takes place as a result of the planning!

Be prepared to get involved in the development of the timetable if you have one. It should not be a top down but a bottom up model. The timetable should serve the needs of the learner and not the other way around.

What this means for the Learner

When getting ready for school think about the whole day rather just about the lessons. Think about how you will get from place to place and how to arrive on time to each lesson. Try to arrive ready to learn.

Use breaks to unwind and forget about the lessons. Time away from learning is as important as the act of learning itself.

Be prepared to:

  • be late to lessons – stay calm
  • lose something – have a backup if you can
  • forget something – it happens so stay calm and think of a solution
  • explain yourself clearly when things go wrong. Take your time don’t rush what you say
  • spot the signs of getting stressed by things that happen during the school day and plan for ways of dealing with it. For example use your break period to chill out or chat about other things.

Use the two second rule. It takes only a second or two to break the effects of emotions on your behaviour. If you are feeling “up tight” then say to yourself “Only a fool breaks the two second rule because… .” Fill in the last bit with whatever is winding you up.  The delay between how you are feeling and any reaction will now involve your thinking part of the brain and not just a reflex response.

Finally a comment about timetables and the learning day.

The formal learning environment is something every learner needs to manage and, in some cases, overcome in order to meet their learning needs. As teachers we should be mindful of this fact and plan not only lessons but the learning day. We need to remember that the timetable has a major impact on the quality of the learning day both for the teacher and for the learner. The stresses that can build from a poorly designed timetable are significant. Sometimes what is best for the timetable is not the best in terms of providing a suitable and effective learning environment. The pace of the school day can be slowed or hastened by the timetable arrangements. Breaks are an important part of learning and there are a few myths that need to be dispelled regarding the length of breaks. I have heard arguments about shortening the mid-day or lunch break because students are bored or get into trouble towards the end. In an attempt to eliminate student incidents I have seen 10 minutes or 15 minutes shaved off the length of this break. Only to see the incidents occur again in the latter part of the break and a further reduction of time applied to solve the problem. It does not. Suddenly there is no time to have a proper break and both teachers and students are caught up in a rush to eat and get to the next lesson. In my opinion, and where I have experienced a much better learning day, we need to adopt the opposite strategy. Consider lengthening the mid-day break and planning for it, not just letting it happen.

Interested in a discussion about how LQ can help you manage the learning environment in a more productive way or perhaps in exploring a different approach to timetabling?

I am available for conferences, workshops, plenaries, online training, course design, webinars, and consulting. Your organization can reach me at to discuss arrangements.

%d bloggers like this: