Thursday, December 28, 2017

Wilson and Conyers Featured in Ed Week

by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson

Marcus and I were featured prominently in Education Week as a part of the popular Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo. The question for this blog post was: "What do you think are the most important things that many policymakers don't understand about teachers, students, and schools?"

In our response, we pointed out how important it is for policymakers to learn and apply the scientific understanding that every student who walks through the schoolhouse door has the ability to succeed. We explained that the acceptance of this scientifically based belief would be useful in creating policy to support teachers in the use of practical high-yield strategies such as having high expectations for the success of all students, using formative assessment and reading comprehension programs, and not labeling students as limited in their learning potential.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

We Have a New Ed Week Post: "It's an Exciting Time to Be an Educator"

by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson

Marcus and I were pleased to be featured in Education Week, discussing how "It's an Exciting Time to Be an Educator," in the popular Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo.

In the post, we talk about how we have arrived at a unique moment in the history of education as the field of learning sciences continues to gain momentum. We observe how learning environments and instructional processes have been elevated through the explicit teaching of practical metacognitive, cognitive, and social skills to enhance academic achievement.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Celebrating BrainSMART's 20-Year Anniversary: Teachers Speak

Teacher leader Stacey Wartenbee shares a BrainSMART celebration entry about using one of our popular strategies to help transform her classroom into an even more positive and focused learning zone.

How to Leave Your Worries Outside
the Classroom Door

Attending a BrainSMART professional development session helped to transform my classroom and teaching. As we know, true learning cannot take place until basic needs are met and we feel safe. So over the last couple of years, I have really focused on the social and emotional needs of my second-grade students. I believe that these skills are as important as math and reading (and are necessary for students to learn well in the content areas).

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Celebrating BrainSMART's 20-Year Anniversary: Teachers Speak

After posting news of BrainSMART's upcoming 20th anniversary, we are delighted to have received many responses stating there will be pictures and stories coming!

One teacher leader's response came in minutes after our posting to say that she would be back in touch very soon. Below is teacher leader Dr. Kara Kehrer's celebration entry.

To those teacher leaders, administrators, and others who are sending entries, Marcus and I want to say that just as everybody's brain is as unique as a fingerprint, so will be your individual stories!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Metacognition: The Gift That Keeps Giving

Students who succeed academically often rely on being able to think effectively and independently in order to take charge of their learning. These students have mastered fundamental but crucial skills such as keeping their work space organized, completing tasks on schedule, making a plan for learning, monitoring their learning path, and recognizing when it might be useful to change course.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cultivating Practical Optimism: A Key to Getting the Best from Your Brain

Neuroscientists recently discovered that optimism is associated with brain pathways connecting the left prefrontal region to the amygdala. Further research has demonstrated that optimism, traditionally considered to be an unchangeable trait, is a way of thinking that can be learned and enhanced.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Engaging Brains: How to Enhance Learning by Teaching Kids About Neuroplasticity

Explicitly teaching students about neuroplasticity can have a transformative impact in the classroom. A central facet of our work as teacher educators is teaching about how the brain changes during learning. Many teachers have told us that these findings have had a positive effect on their expectations for their students and on students' perceptions of their own abilities.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Teenage Brain is Wired to Learn

Adolescence is an exciting time as teenagers become increasingly independent, begin to look forward to their lives beyond high school, and undergo many physical, emotional, and cognitive changes. In that last category, teenagers can learn to take charge of their developing brains and steer their thinking in positive and productive directions toward future college and career success.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Put Working Memory to Work in Learning

Working memory involves the conscious processing and managing of information required to carry out complex cognitive tasks such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension. It has been described as the brain's conductor.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Strategies for Students With Scattered Minds

Imagine a team without a coach guiding players toward working together to execute a winning strategy. Imagine a company without a leader to make sure that employees across departments are equipped and organized to collaborate on continually improving products and increasing sales. Imagine a marching band without a drum major to lead musicians through their complicated maneuvers while staying on beat.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Positive Strategies to Avoid Stress, Anxiety, and Burnout

Teaching is important and rewarding work, but it can also be extremely stressful. Excessive stress may lead to burnout, which is characterized by exhaustion, anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed and isolated. Other common symptoms of burnout are a loss of creativity, good humor, patience, and enthusiasm for life all of which are crucial attributes for effective teaching.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Motivating Students to Read

Students travel at different speeds on the road to reading success. Earlier in my career as a teacher and school psychologist, I noticed that even on the first day of kindergarten the gap between the highest and lowest performers on measures of reading readiness and ability could be as much as six years. So differentiating instruction so that all students have the opportunity to use multiple brain pathways in the reading classroom throughout their school years is key to motivating them to read and improve.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Feeding the Teacher's Brain: Nutrition Tips for Busy Educators

Teaching is a cognitively complex profession. In the course of a single school day, an educator must make hundreds of decisions and respond quickly to the myriad unexpected turns that life in the classroom may take. In this high-energy job, it's essential to prime your brain and body with the right fuel.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Our Work Appears in The Progressive Teacher

While Donna Wilson and I were presenting our work with Singapore teachers recently, The Progressive Teacher publication featured BrainSMART across India through an adaption of our article “4 Proven Strategies for Teaching Empathy.”

As we approach the 20th anniversary of BrainSMART, we are pleased to write that our work in support of effective teaching and teacher well-being has now been featured in countries that include Canada, Netherlands, England, Poland, UAE, South Africa, Bermuda, Bahamas, Japan, South Korea, France, Germany, Singapore, India and the USA!

To see the article as published in India, visit the link at The Progressive Teacher.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

“Collaborating Minds” Is the Topic of Our edCircuit Blog Post

Donna and I advocate for the importance of teacher collaboration in our recent blog post for edCircuit.

As we explain in the post, entitled “Collaborating Minds,” the traditional model of teachers working in isolation is no longer effective in this time of significant change in the teaching practice. Collaboration is critical.

In our work with thousands of educators over the last 17 years, we have facilitated a collaborative approach. In our edCircuit blog post, we stress the importance of capitalizing on what we call educators’ “combined sea of strengths.”

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Donna Wilson and I Reveal ‘The Forgotten Secret to Leadership 

What is “The Forgotten Secret to Leadership Success”? Donna and I provide the answer at our blog post appearing on the School Leaders Now website.

The forgotten secret is metacognition—thinking about thinking—which London neuroscientist Stephen Fleming confirms may be the most powerful tool that professionals such as educational leaders can use to question, monitor, and adjust their thinking as a means of driving action toward achieving goals.

Teachers can work together in using metacognition to improve their teaching practice too. By reflecting on best practices together, teachers can increase their opportunities for being more effective educators—both individually and collectively.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

We Promote the Importance of a Growth Mindset with Our TeachThought Blog Post

Donna and I continue to stress the importance of cultivating a growth mindset in the classroom. Our latest blog post, which appears on the TeachThought website, stresses how developing a “mindset of practical optimism” is a key component of focusing on the brain’s capacity to change as a result of learning.

In the blog post, we talk about the “BrainSMART Big Five” approach, which identifies five key factors that teachers and students can use to improve engagement, motivation, and learning. These include: 

  • Keeping brain plasticity front of mind
  • Driving your brain with effective learning strategies
  • Asking for help when needed
  • Developing finishing power, and
  • Investing the necessary time and effort.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Our Ed Week Blog Topic: Help Students 'Take Ownership of Their Learning'

Donna and I were pleased to take part in the four-part Education Week blog post: "Students 'Take Ownership of Their Learning' Through Goal-Setting," which was featured in the popular Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo portion of the blog.

In the post, we describe how almost all students who walk through the school door have the potential to live a joyous and successful life as each of them defines it. Of course, teachers' guidance is important in helping students set and reach important learning goals.

In the post, we describe our PEAK model to teach students a practical approach to achiving their goals. First, students must establish their clear intent by formulating a goal that is positive, motivating, ambitious, and achievable.

Monday, January 23, 2017

How a Growth Mindset Can Help Struggling Students: Our Latest Post on Edutopia

In our lastest Edutopia post, Donna and I talk about the importance of helping struggling students build a growth mindset.

Our research aligns with Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset—acting on the belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.

As we explain in the post, a positive mindset focuses on the gains that are possible when students persevere through learning challenges. It’s important to maintain a positive mindset, even when school can be difficult, and for teachers to help students remain motivated to work hard to persevere through those difficulties.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Edutopia Post Describes How to Teach Empathy

Our latest Edutopia post stresses the importance of empathy—the ability to understand and share the feelings of others—and also details strategies on how to teach it.

In the post, entitled "4 Proven Strategies for Teaching Empathy," Donna and I describe shared emotional response, or affective empathy, which occurs when an individual shares another person's emotions. We also define perspective taking, or cognitive empathy, which occurs when we are able to imagine ourselves in the situation of another.