Awakening the Learner and Transforming Schools

By Jennifer Dinielli

There are moments we experience in life that touch our soul and change us in an unexplainable way. Today's session at NAESP 2015 with Darrell Scott and Robert Marzano, “Awakening the Learner and Transforming Schools”, was one of those moments.

Darrell Scott opened the session sharing the story of his daughter, Rachel, who he lost much too early in one of our nation's great tragedies, the Columbine school shooting. While no longer with us on earth, Rachel's spirit is living on through the message of her life being shared throughout the world. Her life message is a call to action. A call for a compassionate revolution started by one act of kindness and rippled out to a chain reaction across the world, known as Rachel's Challenge.

"I have this theory that if one person will go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. You never know how far a little kindness can go."
—Rachel Scott

From this tragedy, we as educators can learn a profound truth that may shift what we see as our primary purpose in educating young people. Dr. Marzano claimed that we focus too narrowly on academics and the cognitive realm, and he charged us with flipping our current approach upside down. What if we started with something that connects the learner to something greater than themselves? If we widened our current vision in K-12 education to go beyond the cognitive and to reach the heart? What if our primary purpose was to awaken the motivation within the learner? Then we could reach the ideal of engaged and motivated learners in our schools.

As a public school principal, this message rings true to my mind, heart and hands. If we awaken our students, if we engage them as people, if we appeal to their internal sources of motivation, we may begin to shift to a more compassionate nation.

Thank you for the incredible message Robert Marzano and Darrell Scott.

"Be a 'see-througher' and not a 'look-after' and life will be filled with meaning. See through to the heart."
—Darrell Scott's Uncle Norman

—Jennifer Dinielli, principal of Baywood Elementary School in Los Osos, California.

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