Lockett Learning Systems

Lockett Learning Systems

Monday, November 30, 2015

Pay It Forward

Christmas is a season of giving.  Ask your students to give, too.

When I created SCORE, we designed multiple interventions for our students.  We called it "spoon feeding" them.  We counseled, tutored, motivated, offered field trips, worked with their parents.  It was wonderful, and they responded...

The first year.

By year 2, they began dropping out.  We had to re-think our effort and realized that "spoon feeding" is for infants.  By year 2, they were ready to give back.  If we didn't create an opportunity for that to happen, they looked for another cause to become involved in.

We designed a 4-year plan that started with "spoon feeding."  Year 2, we continued services, but they had a responsibility to mentor younger classmates.  By year 3, their responsibilities increased and their services increased.  By their senior year, they had a wealth of experience...mentoring, tutoring, providing guidance and information...and they got more benefits.

It worked!  In our first graduating class, 40% graduated in the top 12 1/2% of their class.

With opportunity comes responsibility.  Pay it Forward!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I Just Don't Understand This New Group of Kids!

Things change. 

I began my teaching career in the wake of the Viet Nam rebellion.  Campus culture had changed.  Drugs were rampant.  "Everybody's Doing It" was the life motto.  None of the motivational teaching techniques I had learned worked on this changing population. 

I've been at this long enough to realize that everything changes!  We have a new population, and what we learned in school doesn't always work with them.  

We must constantly be learning and growing ourselves.  Otherwise, we become bitter which means we are the problem, not our students.

The thing is...we don't often like what we see with a new generation.  Current surveys say the new generation of employees have no work ethic.  Yikes!

We educators continually face two dilemmas:

 Is our job to teach students our subject or to keep them from destroying their futures with whatever vice is in at the moment? 
We know the answer.  Our job is to do both.

Is it more important to demand excellence or to instill a love of learning in our students?

We know the answer.  We have to do both.

We can't do it alone.  We need parents as our partners.

As a beginning teacher, I had no children of my own.  I was reluctant to contact parents...they intimidated me. 

As a parent, I realize that anyone who loves my child is a friend, not a foe.  We are on the same team.  I can face any parent with any problem and begin the conversation with a version of, "You have an amazing son (daughter)!"  Parents are begging to become involved.  They are seeking tools. If schools survive this generation, we must empower parents and learn how to partner with them.

My evening parent workshops are usually scheduled from 7:00 to 8:30.  I always begin and end on time, out of respect for those who come on time and those who need closure so they can leave.  Then I say, "I'll be here to answer questions as long as you like." 

At my first meeting, I formally closed at 8:30, and no one budged.  They began asking questions.  The custodian kicked us out shortly before 10:00 PM.  Parents are insatiable when it comes to learning tools to help their children! 

Find tools and programs for your PTA meetings in Home Sweet Homework.

Don't be intimidated by parents.  You're on the same team.  Teaching can be a lonely profession.  It is always easier, more productive, and more fun to work as a team. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Disarming the Grain of Truth for Success in College

There is a sick joke among college professors:
"You send us your children in September, and 
we try really hard to send them back home before Halloween!"
Sadly, there is a grain of truth in this statement.  The first six weeks of college are crucial; many students drop out that quickly.
There is a grain of truth inside almost every criticism and almost every sick joke.  Our job, as both parents and educators, is to find that grain of truth and do something to offset it.
Disarm that grain of truth!  Here are four practices to implement long before your children are looking into colleges:  

Mindset of the Student.  I attended my college reunion when my son was a senior in high school.  Chatting with an old friend, he asked about my family.  I told him my son wanted to attend Point Loma, but I didn't know if I wanted to work hard enough to pay for a private college because he certainly wasn't "studious."  My friend laughed and said, "How soon we forget!  You and I were not studious!"  I looked at his business card..."Superintendent of Schools," an laughed.  Yes, how soon we forget! 
Let's plant a mindset in our children from birth that success...in college and in life...is hard work, but let's not forget that their informal education is also valuable. Help them to learn from their little mistakes.  Then the big ones won't be quite as traumatic.
Mindset of the Institution. I met with one of my SCORE students who earned his Bachelor's degree from UC Irvine and his Masters from Harvard.  I asked him to compare the two institutions.  Without hesitation, he said, "At UCI, they told me, 'don't fail; don't fail.'  At Harvard, they told me, 'Succeed!'" 
Let's plant in our children a mindset of success...from birth through adulthood.
Academic Preparation. Students with good study (metacognition) skills graduate at higher rates than their peers.  They have learned how to negotiate content and adapt learning skills to meet their goals. 
Teach your children to experiment with learning tools.  Make sure your school teaches metacognition (check out our curriculum...LockettLearningSystems.com ).
Emotional/Social Preparation. During my son's junior year of high school, two colleagues' children were kicked out of college because of the fallout of substance abuse.  It is traumatic to leave home and assume responsibility for yourself for the first time in your life.  We joke about the "Freshman 10," indicating that we expect freshmen to gain weight now that they must manage their own eating habits.  That is minor compared to the problems associated with poor life choices. 
Teach children to be responsible and make their own decisions while they're still home.  Ease that transition.  I gave my son "custody of himself" during his senior year.  He could make his own decisions about when to go to bed, what to eat, where to go.  He also had to assume responsibility to get his homework done, keep his grades up, ask for help when he needed it, and get up in the morning in time for school.  I maintained veto power to prevent something harmful, and we talked about his decisions...but he had experience taking care of himself before he left home.  He gained his "freshman 10" at home drinking cokes instead of at college drinking beer.  We discussed making healthy choices.  It was a good trade-off.  

Success really is the best revenge!  May all your children and students sail through Halloween!  

Friday, August 28, 2015

Just 15 Minutes. I Promise!

“If your children are not reading at grade level by third grade, they have already failed college.”  
–Madeline Hunter

Reading is the primary focus and great divider of children Kindergarten through Grade 5.  When I work with schools and parents who are concerned because their children struggle to learn, usually poor reading skills is the root cause...from kindergarten through college.

We now expect kindergarteners to have well developed pre-reading skills.  If your children are not reading at grade level by the end of kindergarten, get help.

Oh, Yes!  I can help you!  Here is the easiest technique I know for building strong readers:  

Choral read with your children for 15 minutes a day, every day.

That means find a book (any book) your child will enjoy, sit beside your child, and the two of you read it aloud simultaneously for 15 minutes a day.  

That's it.  It's that simple.  In one month, you will see a noticeable improvement in both speed and accuracy.  I promise!

The side-by-side simultaneous reading helps children learn left to right, pronunciation, auditory clues to words they can't sound out intuitively, interpretation, and inflection.  It helps them with both word recognition and phonics.

It comes with other benefits, too. The biggest is quality time!  You enjoy 15 uninterrupted minutes a day, every day, exploring the world with your child.

By the way, this technique is so powerful that my schools require it of their parents.

Find this and other techniques for both school and parent at LockettLearning!


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Disagree Agreeably

I have a rotten, awful, racist teacher...and I'm going to sit in his class and do nothing!

That is what we call 'stinkin' thinkin'!'
They get paid, and you have to take the class all over again.
They win...you lose.

Designing the SCORE program, I had a version of that conversation many times.

When our students (or children) are angry at us, they either "wall off" or "act out."  Using our study skills curriculum, we ask them to "build a bridge back to learning...not a wall, and not a war."  We teach them to "disagree agreeably."  To do that, they are to:
  1. Ask non-threatening questions
  2. Provide new information
  3. Put assumptions into words and ask for clarification
Our middle school students are especially excited to learn this valuable skill.  We have to tell them they won't win every argument that way, but they'll win a lot more.

Eventually, we teach them about "win-win."  When they learn how to question or disagree without accusing, they're on their way.

"Communication Skills" is what we call the "forgotten study skill."  We tell our students to listen and take notes; but to do that without the skills to discern what is important and to ask for clarification sets them up for failure.  They may get something down in writing, but it won't always be an important point.

Check out our Study Skills Curriculum.  It will help you empower your students to learn so you can spend your time with them doing creative things instead of reviewing the basics.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Less is More

A Biology teacher, following a SCORE Study Skills workshop, decided to test my theory that when it comes to studying, less is more.  After teaching her students the keys to memory, she said, "Promise me you won't study longer than 5 minutes tonight!"

Test grades went up in every class.

It works!  The taxon part of our brain tires quickly.  When we cram information into it, after about 15 minutes, our brain says, "nighty-night!" and quits processing information.

When we started SCORE, we thought we would turn students on to learning and they would spend more time studying.  Wrong!  They actually spent less time studying...but they studied more effectively, turned in homework more often, and earned higher grades.

Less is more.

Check out our study skills curriculum.  Click here.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The "Uncommon Core" Success or Failure?

As a beginning teacher, I was always reading the textbook and thinking, "No wonder the kids don't understand this!"  I would re-write the instructions and pass out a handout that explained what the textbook had muddled.

I didn't know then that I was a writer.  I just knew that I could do a better job of explaining the "how-to" of my lesson than the textbook authors had done.

It is rare that I read an article and think, "Well done!  I couldn't have said it better."

Enter the exception:  From Edutopia, Andrew Miller's article entitled "4 Lessons Learned from Common Core Implementation."

You'll want to read the entire thing.  Here is the link: 

Let me quote from his final paragraph and shout Kudos!  Yes!  Amen!  Wow!  You name it...however you shout about something that grabs you, here it is:
"All teachers should know how professional development relates directly to their practice. 
All teachers should be given practical tools for implementation. 
All teachers should receive ongoing, embedded professional development. 
They should be leveraged for their expertise and leadership. 
We should focus on assessment and move away from our focus on standardized testing."
Andrew Miller
Educational Consultant and Online Educator

From my years in staff development and endeavoring to bring about success to all students, I quickly realized that top-down staff development doesn't work...nor does teacher-driven change.  Change must be a collaborative.  

I asked a principal who had managed to fully and successfully implement SCORE in less than 6 weeks how he had achieved it so quickly.  He said, "I was the new kid on the block, and I knew the teachers would shoot down what I brought to them.  

'The entire first year, I used my staff development monies to send teachers to observe what other schools were doing.  When they came back, they said, 'Why aren't we doing that?!'  I responded, 'we could do that.  I'll look into how to bring it to our campus.'  

'By year two, they were ready and had hand-selected what they wanted to do.  Interesting...it was what I wanted to do, too."

Kudos again! Thank you, educators and students, for keeping my learning curve alive and growing.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Is college for everyone?

I want to weigh in on this age-old debate. I've been at this game of education for a long time now.  I know the answer.

No, college is not for everyone.

Yes, the responsibility to prepare everyone for college belongs to every teacher.

Everyone will not go to college, but it will often surprise you who does and who doesn't. I have watched valedictorians drop out of college. I have watched high school dropouts change their mind, earn a GED, and go on to earn a PhD.

The bottom line: an educator's responsibility is to make sure that every high school graduate has the opportunity to go to college whether they choose to go immediately after graduation, wait a year, or wait 20 years. Children have been known to graduate with their grandparents, you know. Our job is not to determine who will go but to make sure that everyone has that choice.

Am I in favor of arts education? Of course!

Am I in favor of vocational education? Of course!

Am I in favor of advanced placement and honors? Of course!

Am I in favor of accelerated learning? Of course!

Am I in favor of remediation? Absolutely not. It doesn't work. It never has. It never will. It is based on the faulty premise that if I tell you what you're bad at, you'll get better. In reality, when I exploit your weaknesses, you enter a downward spiral. When I, instead, celebrate your strengths, you gain the self-esteem power to compensate for your weaknesses.

Does this work? You bet! Using the strategies of accelerated learning, common core curriculum, multiple intelligences, and mentoring, Lockett Learning Systems has helped schools graduate thousands of high-risk students who can now choose whether or not they enroll in higher education.

Is college for everyone? No.

Does the right to choose college belong to everyone? Absolutely.

Does the responsibility to make this happen belong to every educator, parent, and student working in partnership?  Yes.

Need our help?  Visit http://www.LockettLearningSystems.com.