Introduction to Practice Six

Practice #6

The environment is non-threatening and conducive to risk-taking. Mistakes are viewed as opportunities to learn and grow.

Contents include
Printable materials, Ready-to-use Strategies, and Web links in the following sections:

Implementation Basics

Ideas for Implementation

Implementation Evaluation and Goal Setting

Life Principle



Hand Signs

Practice Connections

Practice Characteristics

Evidence of Practice




Music & Video Links

Learning Strategies

Mind Map

Goal Setting Process with Individual and Class Forms and Examples

Introduction to Practice #6

The environment is non-threatening and conducive to risk-taking. Mistakes are viewed as opportunities to learn and grow.

The WHY? of Practice #6!

Implementation supports a Culture of Respect and Academic Excellence :

  • “Learners who experience threat are likely to exhibit extremes of aggression or withdrawal, diminished problem-solving, highly selective memory, and impaired creativity.” Jensen, E. (1998). Teaching with the Brain in Mind. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 37.
  • “A stressful physical environment such as crowded conditions, fear of violence or peer retaliation, even fluorescent lighting, can impact learner stress and contribute to low achievement in spite of a child’s high IQ.” Jensen, E. (2000) Brain-Based Learning, San Diego: The Brain Store, 32.
  • “Some educator behavior creates a threatening environment: vague directions, boring lessons, verbal threats of class failure, inconsistent limits, rules and consequences, overreactions, failure to listen, the questions, “How many time do I have to tell you?”. Feinstein, S (2004) Secrets of the Teenage Brain, Research-Based Strategies for Reaching and Teaching Today’s Adolescents, San Diego: The Brain Store, 62.
  • “New ideas and choices (a front brain activity) are impossible while learners are trapped in a back brain reactive survival pattern (fight or flight).” Promislow, S (1999). Making the Brain Body Connection, West Vancouver B.C., Canada: Kinetic, 45.
  • “An educator can boost learner achievement by creating a class expectation that mistakes are to be welcomed as learning opportunities.” Moorman, C (2007). Motivating the Unmotivated: Practical Strategies for Teaching Hard-to-Reach Students, Bellevue, WA: Bureau of Education and Research.

For Research: see Rationale for 17 Practices Practice #5 – pages 12-13 on Great Expectations website.


The WHERE? EVERYWHERE learners are engaged in the instructional process.

The WHEN? - Daily use of the elements of Practice #6 will help to establish rapport with and demonstrate respect for all members of the learning environment. Develop a feeling of community and structure through the use of the Eight Expectations for Living and the Life Principles. Use team building, cooperative learning, and life-application projects to build a sense of group accomplishment and cohesion. Empower learners with positive and timely feedback about their efforts and successes. Remove all negative labels and promote a sense of uniqueness in all learners.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

-- Theodore Roosevelt

(Printable Poster)


Main objection: "This takes too much time!"
Response: What are the goals for all learners?


  • To personalize learning and increase the use of positive dialog and effort.
  • To address the uniqueness and multiple styles of all learners by encouraging them to make educational decision and to give input into their individual learning plan.
  • To create a threat-free environment that encourages individuals to ask questions and share ideas.
  • To facilitate positive, academic discussions by using open-ended questions that require thoughtful, creative responses.
  • To involve learners in real-life learning that reflects their investment and their successes.


Application to Employment Skills:

  • “Work, learning, and citizenship in the twenty-first century demand that we all know how to think - to reason, analyze, weight evidence, and problem-solve… “ Wagner, T. (2008), The Global Achievement Gap, New York: Basic Books, xxii-iii.
  • Practice#6 supports the Personal Values, Relations with Others, and Communication Skills listed under The 8 Keys to Employability:

Key #1: Personal Values Valued Workers:

  • Are honest
  • Are motivated
  • Have personal and career goals
  • Have a positive self-image
  • Reach beyond personal limitations
  • Exhibit a good attitude

Key #3: Relations with Other People Valued Workers: 

  • Are team workers
  • Are friendly
  • Are cooperative
  • Are tactful
  • Have leadership qualities
  • Respect the rights and property of others
  • Accept authority and supervision
  • Respect constructive criticism
  • Respect diversity

Key #4: Communication Skills Valued Workers: 

  • Ask questions and listen well
  • Express themselves clearly
  • Seek help when needed
  • Communicate with supervisor and coworkers


Developing Employability Skills - School Improvement Research

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