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.
on discoveries that learning changes the structure and function of the
brain can engage students, especially when combined with explicit
instruction on the use of cognitive and metacognitive strategies that
guide them to learn how to learn (Wilson & Conyers, 2013). Using
these strategies effectively produces learning gains, which motivate
students to take charge of their learning, which leads to further
academic success and may have the additional benefit of alleviating
classroom management issues. When students see this process as changing
their own brains, the result is a powerful and positive cycle.
force behind this cycle is students' belief that they can get smarter
through study and practice, which enhances their commitment to persist
in the hard work that learning sometimes requires. Nisbett (2009)
reports on classroom research involving seventh graders who were taught
that learning changes the brain and that intelligence is expandable.
Students in this experimental group did better on math tests than peers
who did not receive that instruction.
The same dynamic
of persisting to succeed applies to teaching. Keeping the idea of brain
plasticity at the forefront of your professional practice offers a
constant reminder than when students struggle with lessons, it isn't
because they can't learn, but because they need more practice and
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