8 Conditions that Make a Difference

Aspirations fuel the ability to dream about the future, while current circumstances drive the ability to take the necessary actions to reach those dreams. The Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations (QISA) heralds 8 Conditions for students to realize academic, social, and personal success. Based on more than 20 years of research, these conditions emphasize self worth, engaged learning and sense of purpose. 

Part of the Aspirations Framework, the 8 Conditions that Make a Difference are:

Feeling like you are part of a group, while knowing you are special for who you are. 

The Condition of Belonging means that a student is a valued member of a community while still maintaining his or her uniqueness. It is a relationship between two or more persons characterized by a sense of connection and support. A sense of Belonging is an important condition for a student's feeling of well-being, social engagement, and competence. The Condition of Belonging increases intrinsic motivation, for it fosters self-confidence and investment in the community. Teachers have the opportunity to establish a culture of Belonging in their classroom, one that promotes their students' sense of well-being, connection, and self-belief.

Support Belonging Today:

  • Use each student’s name daily.
  • Greet your students as they enter the building and the classroom.
  • Know the hopes and dreams of your students.
  • Create opportunities for collaborative work among your students.
  • Be available to listen to your students’ concerns and fears.

Log in or order to view more strategies to foster Belonging, along with information to help you analyze the data on Belonging from your My Voice Student Surveys; sample focus group questions; and a real-world example of how other educators have used their data regarding this Condition to improve school culture.

Having others who believe in you and who are there when you need them.

Heroes are the everyday people – teachers, friends, family – in students’ lives who inspire them to excel and to make positive changes in attitude and lifestyle. Heroes are people students can connect with, who have a positive influence on them, and who listen to and value their ideas. Heroes build trust in others and belief in oneself. Teachers can be heroes to their students. Students can look up to teachers as people to learn from and communicate with about many things. Building relationships with students through support, guidance, and encouragement enables them to become more confident in their academic, personal, and social growth.

Support Heroes Today:

  • Give daily words of encouragement.
  • Invite graduates from your school to share their successful post-school experiences.
  • Listen to your students.
  • Attend after-school events and functions.
  • Help develop mentoring programs at your school. 

Log in or order to view more strategies to foster Heroes, along with information to help you analyze the data on Heroes from your My Voice Student Surveys; sample focus group questions; and a real-world example of how other educators have used their data regarding this Condition to improve school culture.

Being recognized for many different types of success, including hard work and being a good person. 

The Condition of Sense of Accomplishment recognizes effort, perseverance, and citizenship – along with academic achievement – as signs of student success. Educators have traditionally used a narrow view of accomplishment as it refers to academic achievement, innate ability, or who is “best in the class.” Sense of Accomplishment, however, views success in terms of personal growth and effort, not just through measurable outcomes and countable successes. Teachers have the opportunity to celebrate their students' accomplishments in visible ways. Taking time to recognize and support students’ efforts can help motivate them to persevere through difficult tasks, creating an appreciation for hard work and dedication.

Support Sense of Accomplishment Today:

  • Recognize effort and hard work.
  • Help students develop meaningful and obtainable goals.
  • Involve your students in citizenship projects.
  • Create assignments where the process is valued over the end product.
  • Allow students the opportunity to self-evaluate their work.

Log in or order to view more strategies to foster Sense of Accomplishment, along with information to help you analyze the data on Sense of Accomplishment from your My Voice Student Surveys; sample focus group questions; and a real-world example of how other educators have used their data regarding this Condition to improve school culture.

Enjoying what you are doing, whether at work, school, or play.

The Condition of Fun & Excitement is characterized by students being inspired. They are actively engaged and emotionally involved in their schoolwork. Students who exhibit Fun & Excitement are usually self-confident, curious, and prepared; they are willing to meet the challenges of the day. Teachers who foster Fun & Excitement provide new opportunities, initiate challenges, and respect individual interests. The first three Conditions – Belonging, Heroes, and Sense of Accomplishment – help establish a learning environment in which students can feel safe to have fun together in learning.

Support Fun & Excitement Today:

  • Ask students what they are interested in learning.
  • Give students choices and options.
  • Incorporate technology into your lessons.
  • Create hands-on learning experiences.
  • Connect learning to students’ passions and interests.

Log in or order to view more strategies to foster Fun & Excitement, along with information to help you analyze the data on Fun & Excitment from your My Voice Student Surveys; sample focus group questions; and a real-world example of how other educators have used their data regarding this Condition to improve school culture.

Asking “Why?” and “Why not?” about the world around you. 

The Condition of Curiosity & Creativity is characterized by inquisitiveness, eagerness, a strong desire to learn new or interesting things, and an eagerness to satisfy the mind with new discoveries. Curiosity triggers students to ask “Why?” while creativity gives them the initiative to ask “Why not?” The intensity of Curiosity & Creativity tends to diminish over time due to the habituating effects of the environment. Teachers can devote extra attention to creating a classroom environment that promotes questioning and creative exploration in order to maintain student motivation.

Support Curiosity & Creativity Today:

  • Allow students the opportunity to solve complex problems.
  • Encourage students to ask questions.
  • Create open-ended assignments.
  • Incorporate art, music, and physical movement into your teaching.
  • Design homework assignments with students rather than for them.

Log in or order to view more strategies to foster Curiosity & Creativity, along with information to help you analyze the data on Curiosity & Creativity from your My Voice Student Surveys; sample focus group questions; and a real-world example of how other educators have used their data regarding this Condition to improve school culture.

Being excited to try new things, even when you are not sure if you will be good at them.

The Condition of Spirit of Adventure is characterized by students’ ability to take on positive, healthy challenges at school and home, with family and friends. Students experience the Spirit of Adventure when they tackle something new without the fear of failure or success. Teachers can encourage and support students' Spirit of Adventure by urging them to explore new things. When teachers create an atmosphere that allows for healthy decision making and risk taking, students can become more confident and resilient. Students with the Spirit of Adventure see life as full of opportunities worth exploring for their own sake.

Support Spirit of Adventure Today:

  • Teach goal-setting skills to all students.
  • Model healthy risk taking for students.
  • Support students when they succeed or fail.
  • Teach students to be reflective about their failures and successes.
  • Help students develop the courage to explore new opportunities. 

Log in or order to view more strategies to foster Spirit of Adventure, along with information to help you analyze the data on Spirit of Adventure from your My Voice Student Surveys; sample focus group questions; and a real-world example of how other educators have used their data regarding this Condition to improve school culture.

Making your own decisions and accepting responsibility for those choices. 

The Condition of Leadership & Responsibility means students are able to express their ideas and are willing to accept consequences for their actions. It cultivates accountability for the classroom environment and school community. Fostering leadership empowers students to make just and appropriate decisions and to take pride in their actions. Teachers who promote this Condition teach and expect their students to be good decision makers. They provide legitimate decision-making opportunities, seek student input, and expect students to be accountable for their actions and words. Students are trusted to make the right decisions and are recognized for doing so.

Support Leadership & Responsibility Today:

  • Actively involve students in decisions about their education.
  • Create a school government that is not a popularity contest or prom planning committee.
  • Hold students responsible for their actions.
  • Solicit and listen to student ideas, concerns, and opinions.
  • Use student feedback to design and modify your lessons. 

Log in or order to view more strategies to foster Leadership & Responsibility, along with information to help you analyze the data on Leadership & Responsibility from your My Voice Student Surveys; sample focus group questions; and a real-world example of how other educators have used their data regarding this Condition to improve school culture.

Setting goals and taking the steps you need to reach them. 

Confidence to Take Action is the extent to which students believe in themselves. It encourages them to dream about their future while being motivated to set goals in the present. This Condition is what educators strive for: instilling in their students a confidence in and expectation of success. Confidence to Take Action is characterized by a positive and healthy outlook on life and by looking inward rather than outward for approval. Teachers have the ability to help build their students' Confidence to Take Action by providing support, celebrating diversity, and encouraging independent thinking. By enhancing the quality of academic and personal growth, teachers can empower their students to become active and involved members of their learning environments.

Support Confidence to Take Action Today:

  • Support and guide students who do not yet believe in their potential.
  • Teach students how to work with each other more effectively.
  • Provide the right balance of expectation and support.
  • Teach students to think about the world around them and how they can make a difference for others.
  • Encourage students to be supportive of their classmates.

Log in or order to view more strategies to foster Confidence to Take Action, along with information to help you analyze the data on Confidence to Take Action from your My Voice Student Surveys; sample focus group questions; and a real-world example of how other educators have used their data regarding this Condition to improve school culture