Editor’s Note: In conjunction with the 20-year anniversary of BrainSMART, we are sharing some of our educators’ stories. All of the featured educators earned their Master’s in Brain-based Teaching curricula and/or the Minor in Brain-based Leadership, co-developed by Dr. Donna Wilson and Dr. Marcus Conyers, co-founders of BrainSMART. Below is a synopsis of one of those stories.
learning environment puts the cognitive assets of Clear Intent,
Practical Optimism, and Thoughtful Behavior to work on a daily basis,
according to Theresa Dodge, who has taught in the Greenfield School
District in Greenfield, Massachusetts, for more than 20 years.
Dodge earned her M.S. degree with a major in Brain-Based Teaching from
Nova Southeastern University in 2009. As quoted in the BrainSMART
publication, Effective Teaching, Successful Students, she said
the degree program equipped her “with an incredible arsenal of
instructional strategies to meet just about any challenge I could have
in the classroom.”
brain-based teaching emphasizes the benefits of creating lessons that
engage multiple learning pathways such as visual, auditory, and
kinesthetic. This will help all students connect with new material and
retain and retrieve what they have learned in class discussions and on
Ms. Dodge shared in the interview that she
maintained a daily visual reminder of the importance of conveying
Practical Optimism and Clear Intent and using thoughtful words in
teacher-directed strategies. To establish and maintain a positive
learning state, she has employed various BrainSMART strategies such as
acknowledgements; games like Ball Toss and Around the World to review
what was taught the day before; options for choice; working
independently, in pairs, and in groups; humor; and music or singing.
keep students focused on learning, Ms. Dodge also has used such
strategies as posting the daily agenda, state frameworks, and social
goals for the day. “I always go over why we are doing what we are doing
to foster systematic thinking,” she added. “In addition, I have a list
of thoughtful words and phrases to meet certain situations so I am
always reinforcing thinking and positive behavior, and redirecting
Ms. Dodge observed that the
brain-based teaching approach offers an effective antidote to common
complaints in education today that students are not motivated to learn
due to a variety of environmental and neurobiological factors.
they learn how to teach to today’s students, they will be more
effective teachers, and their desire and passion for teaching will be
renewed,” she said in the ETSS interview. “The degree program
provides strategies to use that are based on how the brain learns best.
This is incredibly important in today’s classrooms.”