Quantum Learning with Dr. Jenny Severson
June 1, 2021
research-based learning, evidence-based education

What if we taught our students not only what to learn but how to learn? By addressing the whole child and teaching them the necessary tools to access their own full potential, we create lifelong learners and leaders. 

But with nearly 50 percent of new teachers leaving the profession within their first five years, how are we taking care of the educators responsible for molding our children?

On today’s podcast, I’m speaking with Dr. Jenny Severson. Jenny is an educational consultant who embraces a love of education and teaching through Quantum Learning and research-based learning principles. Her evidence-based approach teaches students how to be empowered in their own learning while also supporting educational leaders to explore avenues of self-care and compassion.

Tune in!


About Dr. Jenny Severson:

Dr. Jenny Severson is a speaker, educator, coach, and author. She provides principals and teachers with a framework of strategies, a shared vocabulary, and practices that equip educators to achieve dramatic results. Her coaching, tools, and speaking on overwhelm, over-functioning, and battling chronic stress resonate with school leaders. She encourages, teaches, and advocates evidence-based habits that allow you to thrive. Throughout the world, Jenny’s resources are used by schools and at Target Corp., Lego, Loréal, and LifeTouch, Inc.

To learn more about Jenny’s work, visit her website or connect on LinkedIn.


Jump in the Conversation

  • [1:40] The origin story of Quantum Learning Education
  • [7:16] Going deeper with Quantum Learning and Super Camps
  • [13:23] Exploring research-based support of school leaders 
  • [21:21] Jenny’s Magic Wand: Allowing students to understand their power through mindset and literacy 
  • [22:01] Maureen’s Take-Aways


Links and Resources:

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show.



Maureen O’Shaughnessy  0:03  

Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at education evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present-day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  0:21  

I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host, and founder of education, evolution, and the micro-school coalition, where we are fiercely committed to changing the narrative to reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  0:50  

If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe to our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around awhile, have you left a review?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  1:09  

Hi, Jenny. So good to have you on Education Evolution today.


Jenny Severson  1:13  

It’s awesome to be here. Thank you.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  1:15  

And listeners. Today I’m chatting with Dr. Jenny Severson. Jenny is an educational consultant for quantum learning education. This research to brain-based approach has accelerated learning in youth for over 20 years, a former teacher and principal, Jenny is also an author and a coach for principals. Let’s hear about quantum learning with Jenny. Jenny, what is quantum learning education?


Jenny Severson  1:44  

Quantum learning education is an organization that’s actually been around for close to 40 years now It started in the program that Dr. Eric Jensen and Bobby D. Porter, started in 1981, with 64 students. And it has evolved into a global organization where we really focus on the word quantum interactions that transform energy into radiance. And our programs have been on college campuses for almost four decades, the first group of students was 64 students in the program was at Lake Tahoe. And since that time, it’s a camp for kids to look at who they are, how they learn, and how they show up. There’s speed reading academic strategies, a ropes course, all kinds of physical challenges that help kids see and experience teamwork and collaboration in new ways. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  2:51  

That is so holistic and impressive. A lot of programs out there focus on academic pieces, or focus on social-emotional, are the communications skills, the 21st-century skills, it sounds like your program does it all.


Jenny Severson  3:09  

It really is looking at the whole child. And I think that there was a period of time where, you know, back in the 80s, they had computers at super camp, so they were way ahead of the game in terms of the super camp programs. And what happened sort of, you know, the early 2000s, is we really stuck to kind of are shifted may be more to the social-emotional learning. So we actually, you know, had kids turn phones in and off screens and just get more face to face. Yes. And, you know, that sort of seemed like, oh, but it was the right gut instinct for the organization to just really be about people and slowing down and making eye contact and being face to face and just those human interactions that have just been a staple. And really the heart space of the organization for so many years Bobby Porter and Joe Chapman are leading have led the organization since Eric exited after the first I think he was around for the first five to seven years but both have gone on to do just beautiful work in the field of education. And so, quantum learning education extended from you know, people superintendents, parents said, I want my I want to experience this as an adult. Can you do this in schools and in 1999, Mike Hernacki wrote the book Quantum Teaching, Barbara K. Given and Bobbi DePorter and in that book, it just lays out are you a quantum teacher? What are your beliefs about kids’ potential? 


Jenny Severson  5:01  

What do you think is possible? And then it’s, it’s getting that big why and that big belief solidified? And then here’s how to do it. Here’s an approach. Here’s a communication strategy, here’s a way to enter and exit the classroom. Here’s 1024. Seven, here’s a way to review consistently, here’s how to tell your brain Yes. When you want to say no, you know, so much of us, of our learning, is about just getting up and doing the next right thing. And so I think just so many of the initiatives in education, you know, when I think of restorative practices, I, I can’t help but think of quantum learning education, because it’s what happened. What did you think at the time, what have you thought about since who’s been affected? What can you do to make it right, you know, we’ve been teaching how to apologize and acknowledge something for years. And so I love what kind of the synergy that’s brought together with just personalized learning or micro-schools or larger initiatives, you know, we’ve been in, I’ve spoken to the groups of over 3000 people in Sumner County, Nashville Metro schools, you know, I’m working with the third-largest school district in Texas, Cypress, Fairbanks, with quantum learning education for over 15 years. And these are places that they want to go deep, they’re thoughtful people. And we want to just meet kids where they’re at and get them to the next level. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  6:29  

So yes, this sounds so relevant, it sounds like you were ahead of the game by decades. And you’re still ahead of the game today. And being brain-based with all of the great research that you’ve put into this, you send me a video clip, and I’ll include it in the show notes along with your book and I, your consulting, and everything else. But it just showed kids, I think they were in a church youth group. And it just looks transformational. If a student were in one of these programs, a super camp or something facilitated for their youth group or their school, tell me a story of what it might look like. And because this is a big deal, and I don’t think people get this isn’t a curriculum, this is life-changing.


Jenny Severson  7:18  

It really changes people’s lives, it changed my life. It’s why I’ve been an advocate. And, you know, it got me to understand how to attack the game called school. So in that program, we look at speed reading, we look at I accessing cues, we have a pretest and a post-test. So the kids start to see right away and implement a strategy right away, in terms of how quickly they can absorb content. You know, school is still about technical reading skills, there’s still a lot of these basic skills, you know, long division is not going away. There are certain things in education, standardized testing, SAT/ACT prep date, that these things don’t go away. And what we want to do is also give kids just an evidence-based approach about understanding who they are and where they fit into the scheme of things. And so there are some different inventories that we take. But it’s really going to be about facilitating some interactions for themselves, and then how they interact with other people. One of the things you’ll see in the clip is our board braking exercise where they write down a goal that they want to accomplish a dream. And again, it’s an entire process, what you’re seeing in the video clip is sort of the end result of a 3d experience where kids are brought in from 50 to 100 kids. We have a team of facilitators who come in and facilitate those programs, and we want to leave kids transformed. We want to shift the things that trigger them about school and relationships. We want to give them new tools, new insights so that they can really shift how they show up for themselves and their families and at school.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  9:03  

So powerful.


Jenny Severson  9:05  

I love it. I think we when we first met and we’re chatting, you knew someone from way back in the day that had done super camp, right, Carol Allen was that right?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  9:17  

Yeah, that was like the early 90s in Spokane, Washington. And it was amazing. Back then I didn’t connect it to quantum learning. And then when you said, Oh, yeah, super cancer is like oh my gosh, Eric Jensen brain research. And Carol was like the coolest teacher in the universe and just knew like you she was just so eloquent about the whole human being and it was so research-based but so humane and sometimes research-based, feels really statistical and cold, but it was research on how to be more human and be more empowered. So it was impressive enough for me to remember it over 30 years ago.


Jenny Severson  9:57  

You know, there have just there’s just been such an attraction in this organization with just people like you’re talking about Carol Allen, we see people come through the ranks, like just these amazing, you know, Teacher of the Year award-winning educators, we’ve just been really, really blessed and lucky. And that’s really kind of an attractive thing people want to hang around other educators that are really up to something and wanting to create something new and different. And so I could name 100, people who are just, you know, really 1000s at this point of teachers and educators that have come through sort of the rigorous, you know, super camp level type training, where you are on-site for 10 days, and you’re just immersed in all of these skills and strategies, and it’s just, it’s transformational, right. It’s like when you go somewhere, and you do feel, see, hear and experience, it’s different than reading in a book, it’s different than a one-on-one conversation. It’s, it’s the full immersion, and the people that I’ve seen that have come through and now work in high-level corporate jobs, or their attorneys or medical doctors, or they stayed in the teaching profession. It’s, it’s been a really special organization to be a part of, for Gosh, almost 28 years now. So really grateful for the, for all of the people, you know, because I think that’s really at the end of your life, what you value, are the people the relationships, like, yes, you know, check the boxes, right, get the degree, like hit all the, you know, stats and things that you want to have happened. But to do that in a community of learners, who are really, you know, for you looking in the same direction, you know, collective teacher efficacy, how do you get a three year gain in one year, you have a group of people looking in the same direction, believing that in spite of the factors, this is possible, and so, the programs that super camp has produced and quantum learning education produces, are really centered in that vein, and, and, yeah, wow, that’s, that’s,


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  12:23  

It’s so powerful, and it’s so needed. It would have been nice if, you know, almost 40 years ago, people had been like, we’re all in and we used it to transform education. But I think it takes a lot to push against the status quo. But it sounds like you’ve taken all of this rich information in this whole humane look at human development, and you’re applying it now, as you work with principles and help look at it’s you and I know, the psychology we know that it’s there are a lot of emotional aspects to being a principal and usually principal training, and consulting focuses on you know, what you’re going to accomplish and your school’s mission and hiring and logistics and not on the human factor. Tell us a little bit about your approaches when you’re supporting school leaders or other leaders.


Jenny Severson  13:22  

Yeah, so I came across quantum learning education and actually super cam back when I was a junior in college. And so quickly because of all the tools that I learned in those spaces, I became a principal in Chicago at the age of 26. And I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but somebody tapped me on the shoulder, Doug Schultz and Ben Martin do back in the day, and just really saw my potential. And as I was a principal, I realized, you know, everything in my master’s degree taught me about being an instructional leader, and then you get into the job. And it’s not, it doesn’t really match. And so there’s this disillusionment period of what the job actually is. And so I think just to be relevant to the last couple of years, is we have to understand the weight that the job can take on our shoulders. And if we’re not, if we’re not really understanding, you know, whether it’s an enneagram or a Myers Briggs or I love Strength Finders, if we’re not really clear about our signature strengths, and where we can shine, or we don’t have a big why we don’t have a big purpose. These roles are going to SAP our energy really quickly. So one of the things that I like to do with principals is walk them through some really simple exercises that because of the busy Miss and the hurried nature of the work, maybe they haven’t Taking the time to sit back and go, Hey, this is what really matters. This is what I’m really about. And how is this fitting into my systems, my time, my boundaries, you know, leveraging people around them so that they can be freed up to do more of the things that they love in the work. 


Jenny Severson  15:19  

So, this last year, it’s been a process of really looking at, you know, the stages of grief, the denial, the anger, the bargaining, the depressions, and the acceptance of nobody signed up to be a COVID. Manager. Nobody signed a two. I mean, I could mean 12 things that I’ve heard principals say in the last week that have just been frustrating and hard and rigorous. And so I think what I offer principals is just really psychological safety for and confidentiality, to walk them through some things that you can always talk about in your organization. And that’s the number one challenge. It’s like, I can’t talk about this with my colleagues or my superintendent, because I’m really feeling like, why did I even get into this? What am I doing? Well, I’m on the edge of burnout, this isn’t just overwhelmed anymore this is. And so we just look at some of those things together and kind of shift that over, you know, 180 days. And so the book that I wrote is about the gratitude turnaround. And it’s where I just share my own story, of struggle, debt, death, facing death, and all kinds of things in that book, and then coming out on the other side, and how do you? How do you come out on the other side after being in the ditch? Yeah. How do you avoid the bitch is now the next two decades, preventative things that you can do on a daily basis and just habit, stack those habits and just restore ourselves to sanity one day at a time.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  17:02  

Love it. And listeners, I’m definitely the links are in the show notes you’re going to want to read this book.


Jenny Severson  17:13  

Yeah, I think people are looking for real stories. I think it’s the reason that you know, Bernie Brown has become such a huge force. Because we can all posture up. And I was the keynote speaker I did this, I did that people don’t care about that. They really want to know, like, how do you do this? How do you How did you navigate that? And so, you know, the book is about real life. And, you know, sure there’s, there are a couple of stats and you know, a little bit of evidence in there, but it’s really a heart space of, you know, walking alongside someone and, and just sharing your experience, strength, and hope. Love it.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  17:57  

Well, let’s get a little more into your story. Let’s do some turbo time questions just so the listeners can learn more about you, Jenny. So I have just some rapid-fire questions for you. What is the last book you read?


Jenny Severson  18:13  

I read 17 things resilient teachers do by Brian Harris, a good friend of mine. Yeah, it’s a great book.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  18:22  

And two inspirational folks you’d love to meet.


Jenny Severson  18:27  

I think I would love to absolutely meet like Barack Obama and Melinda Gates. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  18:34  

Oh, yes. Favorite place to travel.


Jenny Severson  18:38  

My favorite place that we’ve been able to travel to Costa Rica.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  18:44  

Agreed. It’s amazing. One TED talk that inspires you.


Jenny Severson  18:51  

Mel Robbins. Did a TED talk on Oh gosh, what did she call it? It was basically Oh, how to stop screwing yourself and it’s just very like in your face, but in a really good way. Oh my gosh, that one I’ll have to lookup.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  19:13  

Be the biggest thing you wish folks knew about the neuroscience of learning.


Jenny Severson  19:19  

Oh, that brains are changing every single day that we are not fixed. We are we crave automatic pilot and comfort but pushing and forcing ourselves out of our comfort zones. is where the real juice and joy of life is. And we’re growing these cells every day. What do you do with them?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  19:42  

Love it. I love that juice and joy. Yeah, when we get out of that safety zone. A pet peeve of yours.


Jenny Severson  19:53  

I just think the workload of you know the last year you know the blurriness of Life boundaries, I guess. Yeah, I don’t know if that’s a pet peeve. I don’t know my kids about my kids chewing with their mouths. Near food like crazy. Maybe I can picture that. Yep.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  20:22  

What’s one passion you bring to quantum learning?


Jenny Severson  20:25  

I think it’s just a passion for learning. And it’s what just attracted me to the organization just learners in my strength finder, I’m just, I’m not going to stand still, I’m going to just keep learning and adding to the repertoire of great work that’s out there so nice. And something about you that most people don’t know. Most people, if you just saw me today, you wouldn’t know that. I’m the first person in my family to graduate from college or do any kind of both post-High School kind of work? So my


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  21:09  

Wow. And not just college and master’s, but a doctorate too. So you went all the way? Yes, go bigger, go home. Right. Love it.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  21:19  

And for our closing, I always like to have a magic wand moment. So if you had a magic wand, what quantum learning strategies, would you wish for all students to be able to access to dive into learning in their lives?


Jenny Severson  21:39  

I think it would have to be around the power of reading and literacy. And just understanding how their mindset impacts their ability to be high competence and high comprehension reader.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  21:58  

That’s important. And I feel like especially secondary education. It’s like if you didn’t learn to read in elementary done, and that’s not okay. So very important. Love your magic one. So glad we had time to talk today, Jenny, thank you for joining us.


Jenny Severson  22:15  

Thank you so much.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  22:25  

So great to get to talk with Jenny Severson today, she is constantly upping her game and finding ways to take that love of lifelong learning, and support learners and educators. The video clips the three-day experience, you’ll want to check in the show notes. It really does show kids thinking about who they are and how they want to show up and Becoming Empowered. And if education could make this a regular part of the learning, empowering youth and getting beyond their limiting beliefs, that alone would be transformative, and also how quantum learning works with literacy. We know the power of reading and the power of articulating. So to help kids feel comfortable reading in this age of tweets and short little half sentences. This is super powerful. And I really liked her reminder that brains are changing daily. So we can expect our students to continue to evolve and they can expect to continue to evolve. And if we all can just nudge ourselves out of our comfort zone. I like how Jenny shared that’s where the juice and the joy of living comes. And her book on gratitude really talks about the joy of living in that choice that we can make to be grateful. So Jenny has a wealth of resources. And you’re going to want to look in the show notes and find out more. Thank you for joining us today.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  24:19  

If you’re finding yourself thinking I need to do this in my school. Let’s talk about it. I consult with schools to help them find new innovative solutions to reaching every student. Let’s put together an action plan. Visit educationevolution.org/consult to book a call and let’s get started.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  24:51  

Education Evolution listeners You are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen heard, valued at thriving, we need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. I’d be so grateful if you’d head over to your podcast app to give a great rating and review if you found this episode valuable. Don’t wait. Please do it right now before you forget. I really appreciate it. Thank you for listening, signing off. I am Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai



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