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A Discussion of How Teachers’ Brains Engage During Periods of Highly Creative Work A Challenge to the Status Quo of Current Thinking About Thinking National.

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Presentation on theme: "A Discussion of How Teachers’ Brains Engage During Periods of Highly Creative Work A Challenge to the Status Quo of Current Thinking About Thinking National."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Discussion of How Teachers’ Brains Engage During Periods of Highly Creative Work A Challenge to the Status Quo of Current Thinking About Thinking National Title I Conference, San Diego, CA 2014 Education InSite


3  Charleston Southern University  Professor, Author, Radio Host  Differentiated Pathways of the Brain and Breaking Brain Barriers  Brain-Framing: Instructional Planning With the Brain in Mind  Brain Verse: Activities to Build Literacy and Neural Connectivity  Brain Tips: Simple Yet Sensational Brain-Friendly Strategies for Improving Teaching, Learning, and Parenting  Consultant to Title I Schools around the US/Former Special Ed. Teacher Education InSite

4 Maximizing Teachers’ Impact in High Poverty Settings With innovative, brain-friendly practices Education InSite

5 Creativity Capacity Complexity Education InSite

6  Let’s Deconstruct the word.  Meta=Self  Cognition= Thinking  An “Awareness of One’s Own Thinking” Education InSite

7  One must be aware of one’s OWN thinking.  Concurrently, one must be aware of how students are or are not engaged in thinking.  It is a process unlike any other.  Exhausting  Exhilarating Education InSite

8  Do not have the luxury of simple COGNITION.  Thinking is not enough.  Metacognition is required. Education InSite

9 Stressed Students Brain Shutdown Stressful Profession

10 Education InSite

11  “But no one can fully understand how difficult teaching in America’s highest-need communities is until he or she personally experiences it. When I solved engineering problems, I had to use my brain. When I solve teaching problems, I use my entire being—everything I have. A typical engineering task involves sending an email to a colleague about a potential design solution. A typical teacher task involves explaining for the fourth time how to get the variable out of the exponent while two students put their heads down, three students start texting, two girls in the back start talking, and one student provokes another from across the classroom. “ Ryan Fuller Education InSite

12 Spread out, it is about the size of a linen dinner napkin. But, if you were to count the synapses at the rate of 1 per second, you would finish 32 million years after you began! Bright Air, Brilliant Fire Robert Sylwester

13  Almond Shaped Clusters  Triggered by stress  Unleash Cortisol  Shutting down higher order thinking  Damaging the brain Education InSite

14  Cortisol, the stress hormone does so much damage to our brains as it seeps out: shutting down the pre-frontal cortex, impeding creativity: actually shrinking the hippocampus, the center of memory; and slowing neuro-genesis. But, when you recognize the fact that simply living in poverty triggers cortisol, even when there is no direct stressor like abuse or illness in a child’s life, you have a huge problem. Dr. Linda Karges- Bone

15  Maintaining an uber-awareness  A gestalt of where everything and everyone is in space and time.  A pre-cognition of what might come next.  And how the teacher and every other player on the cognitive chess board is going to react. Education InSite

16 More Cohesiveness Creativity Compassion For Teachers More Conversations Collaboration Commitment For Parents More Connections Concentration Curricular Innovation For Students Education InSite

17  Counterfactual Thinking is….  One of the highest forms of creativity.  Constantly moving between the reality that we SEE and what we want our classrooms to BE. Education InSite

18  Challenges from the Common Core  Deeper, Richer Curricula….  Demands Deeper, Richer Neural Connectivity. Education InSite

19 Put Teachers’ Brains 1st Creativity Literacy Enhancement Stress Reduction Mirror Neurons Neuro- Architecture GreenTimeAssessmentsPraise

20  #1…..Teachers’ Brains Deserve Attention.  Put the Oxygen Mask on Yourself First! Education InSite

21  Treat teachers’ brains like gold.  Reduce their stress.  Enhance their wellness.  Harness their creativity. Education InSite

22 Plan something special and rewarding for teachers every week. Education InSite


24  #2…..Teachers Need Time to Transition into a Metacognitive State.  Common Core Planning is Different from Fragmented 6 point Lesson Planning. Education InSite

25  Provide Planning Time to Integrate and Investigate Common Core Connections.  If you want the CORE to be rigorous, your planning time must be rigorous. Education InSite

26 RE-configure schedules to enable robust shared planning and guard this time jealously! Education InSite


28  #3 Think carefully about how assessments are used.  Assessments reveal different attributes of students’ abilities. Education InSite

29  Re-visit portfolios.  Implement tiered assessments where possible.  Create a balance of high and low stakes assessments. Education InSite

30 You may not be able to control the state or district level assessments, but you can shift traditional testing at the classroom level to be more reflective.


32  #4…. Consider the role of neuro- architecture.  Environment matters to the gray matter. Education InSite

33  Give teachers mini grants to design more brain-friendly settings.  Use soothing colors such as greens, blues. Education InSite

34 Take the “Are You a Neuro-Architect?” quiz from Dr. Bone’s book Brain Framing and act on the results with colors, music, and water features. Education InSite


36  #5….Practice brain- friendly praise strategies.  Give both teachers and students cues that increase neural productivity.  Train the brain to take creative risks and enjoy the journey of learning.. Education InSite

37  Read the work of Dr. Carol Dweck as a faculty.  Remember that praise for intelligence freezes the brain. Praising effort sets it free! Education InSite

38 Put up “Praise Stem Posters” with fresh stems to help teachers re- think the ways that they praise. Education InSite


40  #6….Think GREEN  Recognize the importance of novelty and nature to metacognition.. Education InSite

41  Harness the power of green spaces, outdoor classrooms, and sunlight to enhance thinking. Education InSite

42 Give rewards to teachers who create at least one outdoor classroom lesson each week. Even a “Power Walk” before a writing activity is powerful for metacognition. Education InSite


44  #7….Consider the new research on creativity.  Connect this research to what we know about metacognition.  Kids and teachers need time to think INSIDE THE BOX.  Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg. Education InSite


46 Implement the “Fed-Ex” Creativity model at the next faculty meeting. Draw the name of a teacher and give him/her a free afternoon to develop a fresh idea for your site. “Deliver “ it at the next meeting. Education InSite


48  #8….Reduce the impact of stress in order to shift the brain into metacognitive mode.  Recognize the fact that children who live in poverty have more of the stress hormone cortisol, which impedes thinking.. Education InSite

49  Increase physical activity in order to stimulate “Exercise Induced Neuro- genesis and the release of BDNF..which acts like “Miracle Gro for the brain.  BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) Education InSite

50 Set up a Walking Program for both teachers and kids. Set goals, such as “Walking to the State Capitol”. Get pedometers donated. Education InSite


52  #9….Harness the connection between literacy and metacognition.  Neural-Scaffolding requires fluency and flexibility in language.  By some estimates, there is a 30 million word difference between children who live in poverty and their non- poverty peers by age 4.. Education InSite


54 Read aloud every day. Reading aloud is FREE and immerses children in rich language. Try Dr. Bone’s “School Wide Literacy” Read Aloud plan in Brain Framing. Education InSite


56  #10. Decide to change your mind.  “Paying attention in the present moment, on purpose, and without judgment.”  Studies show that teachers who learn mindful practices become better practitioners and remain in the profession.. Education InSite

57  Decide to celebrate small victories in the classroom.  Take pictures of your students engaging in hard work and post them boldly.  Choose a compassionate response and use mirror neurons. Education InSite

58 Make a list of what you LOVED about teaching when you entered the profession. Then, put it somewhere on your desk. Every day, select one attribute and focus on “seeing it come alive” in your classroom. Education InSite


60  Metacognition is required in today’s classrooms.  Metacognition requires enormous effort, commitment, and strength from the teacher.  Dancers remain en pointe’ for just a few minutes at a time.  Teachers maintain this kind of “cognitive dance” for hours at a time. Education InSite

61  Look at the picture closely.  The world sees the beauty.  Our bodies and minds experience the pain and effort. Education InSite

62 Put Teachers’ Brains 1st Creativity Literacy Enhancement Stress Reduction Mirror Neurons Neuro- Architecture GreenTimeAssessmentsPraise

63 Education InSite

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