The Vortex of Feeling and Learning Educational Neuroscience in our Schools

“We are feeling creatures who think.” Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

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Washington Township educators in an Educational Neuroscience Institute

As I reflect upon and intentionally consolidate the work I am doing in our schools with students and teachers, I wanted to describe and define this and how I am integrating Educational Neuroscience principles and strategies into our classrooms and schools.

  1. The educators and students are learning collectively about their own neuro-anatomy and how their feelings, thoughts and behaviors are intimately connected to the mind and hearts. This is becoming aware of Emotional, Social and Cognitive Health and well-being. When we spend some time, understanding that our brains are not machines; they are not outside of us working on automatic, we feel the empowerment and control. It is a social organ that affects and directs every experience in our days, empowering us and the emotional academic and social outcomes of every experience and relationship. We are no longer the victims of our feelings and thought processes which can lead to strong accountability!
  2. Students are exploring how they learn, how stress occurs in their brains, and how their emotions and thoughts affect every moment in their day. They are given specific strategies to help lessen the stress response, emotionally regulate, while learning to empathize with other people. Focused Attention Practices are a critical and very well received strategy as we train and mentor the mind for attention and relaxation.
  3. Students and teachers are given principles and strategies to assist with creating meaning and relevance to the content and subjects taught. They are learning how memory is processed in the brain, and how best to engage with the content for sustainable learning. The principles and strategies include: neuroplasticity, the development of executive functions, (sustained attention, emotional regulation, planning, organizing, flexibility, goal -setting and metacognition strategies,) and how to implement and weave emotion into new standards and topics drawing upon the strengths of every student profile.
  4. We are implementing metaphors, visualization, analogies, associations, emotions, story chunking and imagery creating brain states of anticipation, curiosity, novelty, prediction, as we prepare; priming the brain for learning, lower stress, and improved engagement.
  5. Teacher Brain Development- The most significant aspect of this Professional Development is the attention and care of the educator’s brain and heart. If teachers and administrators are to be transformative effective leaders and role models in the educational community, they need to employ the knowledge of brain engagement, brain health, the power of emotional contagion and how modeling is most effective knowing the roles of mirror neurons. Educators must tap into their triggers, personal stories and culture to deeply understand how conflict cycles are born and lessened through personal perceptions. Self-reflection separates effective and superior teachers and administrators and these educational neuroscience principles and strategies engineer these sustainable social and emotional skills. We are collectively embracing the effects of a brain that has experienced chronic ambient trauma and how this impacts all aspects of connection.

Dr. Lori Desautels

Assistant Professor College of Education at Butler University www.revelationsineducation.com