Tag Archive | Resilience

As a learner how important is self-belief and…

… what has it got to do with Learning Intelligence (LQ)?

diagram of LQ and SAAB

Those of you who follow this blog will know of my aim and passion for developing a global awareness of Learning Intelligence and how it can transform learning. Through my company, Advocating Creativity, workshops, keynote speeches and writing I aim to provide access to my ideas, insights, and strategies. The number of people showing an interest in LQ is growing[i]. There have been over 1300 views of the info-graphic defining LQ in the last 4 months. With nearly 10,000 views  of the blog since August 2013, (as of May 2016 this is now over 21,000)and with many comments, acknowledgements and questions being received, LQ is beginning to become part of the vocabulary of learning.

I am always looking for the science that sits behind the art of teaching and the desire to learn. At the end of August, as part of a comment I received about the article “Introducing Learning Intelligence”, ( http://wp.me/p2LphS-3p ), a link to a paper was provided. The title of the paper was “Human Agency in Social Cognitive Theory” and was by Albert Bandura, Stamford University and appeared in the American Psychologist in September of 1989[ii]. My thanks to D Sharrock, who provided the link, and suggested that the article would help support the evidence base for why LQ is such a powerful learning concept. If you have read something that you think will support , or even challenge,  the concept of LQ please let me know.

I have found Bandura’ work does indeed underpin several key aspects of LQ and there are conclusions in Bandura’s paper that I believe also find themselves echoed in the work of, among others,  Carol Dweck . These include certain LQ related attitudes, attributes and behaviours (see diagram above) that enable the learner to manage their learning environment and exercise resilience. This post seeks to show how Bandura’s work supports the concept of LQ.

lQ graphic 6

People Can Change

Bandura argues people can change and that the more confident they are, the better their problem solving capabilities and analytical thinking the better they perform. I feel certain that many sports coaches would agree, as they would with the suggestion that where individuals visualise success they achieve better performances. Motivation is very much linked to self-belief and problem solving is very much a part of LQ. Knowing you can change and by doing so learn to manage your learning environment to meet your learning needs is the belief that sits behind LQ.

Self-Belief and Resilience

Self-belief also plays a part in resilience, getting back on the horse after falling off. Passion and a strong belief in what you are doing enables people to overcome many of life’s many problems. “It takes a resilient sense of efficacy to override the numerous dissuading impediments to significant accomplishments” (Bandura). People who believe in their ability to cope and overcome challenges tend not to dwell on their inabilities but instead look for ways of moving forward. This is important when we consider our “Learning Map” (what we believe we can and cannot learn). The learning map landscape is often defined by school based experiences and what is said to us by significant people in our lives (parents and peers). More about the learning map in another post.

Learning Map

Being able to re-define our learning map has the benefit of a long term impact on our ability to learn. “After perceived coping efficacy is strengthened to the max level, coping with previously intimidating tasks no longer elicits differential psychobiological reactions” (Bandura). We become imbibed with the belief that we can cope with what were possibly considered too risky or too demanding situations. This makes it more likely we will develop adaptive strategies. LQ requires creative and adaptive strategies to overcome learning limitations imposed by the learning environment rather than being impeded by them. As Bandura warns “Depressive rumination not only impairs ability to initiate and sustain adaptive activities, but it further diminishes perceptions of personal efficacy.” Believing you can do nothing about your situation is debilitating. Developing and being aware of LQ gives you the ability to do something about your situation.


Developing LQ is not only the responsibility of the learner. The responsibility for developing an LQ friendly learning environment in which learners can experience learning challenges and find ways of overcoming them is one that rests with the teacher. This is supported when we recognise  “People tend to avoid activities and situations they believe exceed their coping capabilities, but they readily undertake challenging activities and select social environments they judge themselves capable of handling” (Bandura). This emphasises the role of the teacher as a coach and mentor in supporting LQ development. It is also important to note that all learners need to face challenges in their learning but to do so without support is debilitating. This is just as important for those who are recognised in school as Gifted and Talented as those who have recognised learning challenges. “Development of resilient self-efficacy requires some experience in mastering difficulties through perseverant effort.” (Bandura) By successfully overcoming learning challenges we develop a broader set of skills, more informed attitudes, are more confident in our aptitudes and more in control of our behaviours.


The implications for developing LQ go way beyond school and can follow us into work and careers. As a teacher, I have recognised that we are inclined to seek environments in which we feel comfortable and safe and are less likely to take on challenges if we are limited by our self-efficacy. “Any factor that influences choice behaviour can profoundly affect the direction of personal development… long after the decisional determinant has rendered its inaugurating effect” (Bandura). We can still face self-belief issues long after we felt uncomfortable, challenged, or inadequate in any learning situation unless it is resolved. How many people avoid subjects studied in school well into adult life? Developing LQ is a way of overcoming these negative emotions, limiting self-beliefs and improving learning at any stage of our lives. LQ is the tool we have been looking for to promote the idea of “lifelong learning.”


Motivation is also considered and describes our requirement to extending what we believe we can achieve or attain in order to undertake a new challenge, especially if we consider there is a risk. We can see this in the work of Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development[iii]  where we consider what we can do, what we can do with help and what we as yet cannot do. What we imagine we can achieve is very important in motivation and an attribute of LQ is imagination. “The ability to envision the likely outcomes of prospective actions is another way in which anticipatory mechanisms regulate human motivation and action.” (Bandura).

Importance of LQ

Finally the reason why it is so important we promote and develop our LQ in our learning journey and as teachers we create an LQ friendly learning environment is supported by Bandura’s conclusions.

Given the same environmental conditions, persons who have developed skills for accomplishing many options and are adept at regulating their own motivation and behaviour are more successful in their pursuits than those who have limited means of personal agency.” (Bandura)

If you would like to be kept up to date with LQ and how to both promote and develop it then follow this blog. If you would like a more detailed introduction to both LQ and learn about practical school and classroom based approaches to developing LQ then contact me for an initial discussion at kevin@ace-d.co.uk.

Advocating Creativity 2014

[i] https://magic.piktochart.com/output/2297869-learning-intelligence)

[ii] http://meagherlab.tamu.edu/M-Meagher/Health%20360/Psyc%20360%20articles/Psyc%20360%20Ch%203/self-efficacy.pdf

[iii] http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/social-development.html


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 https://t.co/6f2aHXvmBH ]

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 kevin@ace-d.co.uk

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.

LQ and the link to Resilience



Not everything in life goes to plan every time, there are times you are left wondering what went wrong.

Strangely, unlike learning, we don’t always see it as a personal weakness or a failing in our abilities. We find it easy to identify the reasons why things are difficult or hard to accomplish and often the finger points away from us and to other things. Why then in learning do we so easily accept that it is our fault when we cannot learn something, that we must be stupid or something? If we do go finger pointing then it is normally at the teacher, it is their fault because they are a poor teacher.

The thing about finger pointing is it gets you no further along the learning pathway.

What if you had an independent coach, somebody who could objectively reflect on the situation and who knows you and your learning needs? It would be nice, if like top sports men and women, we could have our own coach to watch over us and advise us how to get the best out of our performance or how to play a particular opponent in order to succeed. With LQ you have!

lQ graphic 6

Resilience is the ability to adapt to adverse situations we encounter in everyday challenges, to “bounce back” when knocked down or back as a result of an experience. Here once again the analogy with sports is most apt. Losing one race does not make you a bad runner, struggling to jump higher or further does not make you a bad jumper. Perhaps it is giving in and finger pointing that makes you a bad runner or jumper!

Think of LQ as your own personal coach, somebody to encourage you and to provide the objectivity you need in order to move forward. LQ goes a little further though because it is an internal process and one to which you have to give thought and energy to. The rewards though can be very empowering. Firstly you learn to recognise that something is beginning to challenge you much earlier because you are an active participant and not just a passive observer in the learning.  Next comes the objectivity aspect of LQ and resilience, looking around at your learning environment you will begin to assess what it is about it that is impacting negatively on or impeding your learning.  You will need to do this without emotion, to involve emotion will cloud your judgement and often limits your resilience. For example I have known people want to go give up after achieving more than half a task.  Objectivity would recommend a short rest and recognise there is now less to do and having done more than half it is possible to finish. Emotions will endeavour to override this view and suggest things are too difficult, it was an impossible task in the first place, it will take too long to finish and many other masking examples of “negative self-talk”.

An important lesson to learn here is that learning requires effort. Perhaps less effort for some than others at times but we all have to make an effort in order to learn. There are many examples of where people have achieved mastery not just through talent or ability but with a great deal of effort too. It is part of the equation: success = effort x ability.  Think of effort as the verb of resilience. Effort can make up for a lack of natural ability and often does. What many learners do not recognise is that the degree of effort can be a variable, greater at the start of learning something new and less as they gain understanding.  Resilience is improved if we recognise this simple truth. It is worth looking up Carol Dweck’s work on attribution theory.  You can find further details here as part of a “Prezi” I put together along with further references and background research for the concept of LQ.


Breaking the link of being able to affect the success of trying to learn because of some innate or unchangeable ability is a key element in developing resilience. Once there is realisation that outcome is related to effort and can be affected by altering the effort then there is reason to try.  In doing so we are also beginning to understand an element of motivation.

Rewards and Resilience

A cautionary note, do not seek to reinforce resilience with reward as the path leads to ever increasing degrees of reward and ultimately bargaining about the reward before making any effort.  Here again LQ can help. The reward of using LQ is an internal one, of overcoming personal challenges and does not seek to involve third party incentives.

What this means for the Teacher

  • When praising students praise the effort and the strategy not the person.
  • Talk about the challenge of learning and discuss the learning equation (success = effort x talent or ability)
  • Encourage positive self-talk and objectivity when reviewing work with students
  • Use examples of where people have been successful despite the trials they have faced. You can relate learning to the “hero’s journey” concept used in many children’s tales.
  • Talk about being brave and about finding learning strategies to overcome challenges
  • The Hero's Journey linked to learning



What this means for the Learner

  • Learning can be an effort, difficult and sometimes appear impossible. That is okay, we all feel like that at times even if we do not show it. Be brave and get the personal rewards that come from achieving something yourself.
  • Use what you know to learn what you don’t know.  This should give you the confidence to have a go because you already know something about what you are trying to learn.
  • Find out what is hindering your learning, think about your learning needs and how to meet them.  Would it help to discuss it with somebody? Do you need time just to think things through? What questions have you got?
  • Recognise that you can learn from your mistakes, they are just steps on the road to success. Some people have more steps or make smaller steps than others that is all.


I hope you are enjoying the articles on LQ and sharing them with colleagues and friends. Please remember challenge helps to hone arguments and ideas so leave a comment when you feel able to.

This is the tenth article in the series on LQ with the first being published on August 11th.

Learning Intelligence – an Introduction

The next article published on the 25th of September will look at the link between LQ and initiative.

%d bloggers like this: