Explore Nueroscience in Education with Dr. Lori Desautels

The Brain and Resources for Teachers

Below, you will find additional resources with an explanation of what I am working on inside our schools and classrooms! Please reach out if you have any questions or connections or any additional resources to post!

Why Educational Neuroscience in the Classroom?

August 2016

Dr. Lori Desautels


After completing our initial educational neuroscience graduate course at Butler University, and completing a yearlong Brain Initiative with the Washington Township Schools this summer, while sitting beside teachers, administrators and students for the past three years inside K-12 classrooms and higher education, I wanted to reflect in this post how this practice/ discipline cannot be implanted, memorized, scripted or turned into an acronym! Educational Neuroscience embraces connection, engagement and a deepened understanding of brain development as it relates to education. People change people, not programs! To create a program or label and limit this emerging discipline, would be disrespectful!

What am I so excited about? What are educators so excited about after being introduced to this practice? Many educators are motivated and enthused because there is science and emerging research that aligns for how they are already engaging and connecting to students. There are so many social and emotional mindful programs that are clearly enhancing the child or adolescent’s or even the teacher’s stress response system, but it is time to begin mentoring and training our pre-service educators in brain development, as it relates to sitting beside 21st century brains who walk through classroom doors with an exorbitant mount of emotional social and cognitive needs! High achievement, academic success, and closing those  learning gaps occurs when we “prime” the brain for connection and purpose because many of our youth are coming from environments where emotional connection with a significant other and a sense of purpose have been lost, denied, or buried.

The human brain is wired for relationships! The human brain loves to learn. But if the conditions for these neurobiological states are not tended to, we all feel the negative effects.

“If you lack a deep memory of feeling loved and safe, the receptors in the brain that respond to human kindness fail to develop.”  (Van Der Kolk)

If we feel safe and loved, our brain specializes in cooperation, play,  and exploration! If we are constantly feeling unloved, frightened or unwanted, the brain specializes in managing feelings of fear and abandonment.”

  1. Educational Neuroscience   helps us to understand the private logic and worlds of one another. We are feeling creatures who think.
  2. Attachment to adults is a prerequisite to learning from them! Attachment is the carrier of all development.
  3. Development is hot, messy chaotic and anything but linear.
  4. Students and adults who are angry, anxious, depressed or feeling negative emotion struggle with learning!
  5. Environment intimately affects our neurobiological states and we need to attend to the outer and inner environments of one another.
  6. Emotion is critical to the learning process.
  7. Movement and healthy sleep patterns intimately affect learning.
  8.  Helping students begins with teaching them about their neuro-anatomy! When we do, children and adolescents are able to begin self-regulation habits and priming their own brains for a strengthened memory, and learning connections.
  9. Our behaviors are driven by how we see the world. When you walk through life with a guilt or shame based lens, you recycle the negative feelings and behaviors you are trying to lessen!
  10. Children and youth want their own power and control, not another adult’s. Create islands of forced success and help them to discover their strengths, expertise and interests! Self-reflection is intimately connected to high levels of learning. Every child unconsciously creates a “social map” “How I see myself, becomes my experience.”
  11. Shame is beneath all acts of violence. Violence is the absence of love… for children; they make a clear connection violence, neglect and rejection!
  12. Humans are nurtured by love- this comes from two sources- self and others! If love cannot be experienced from one of these two sources, it cannot flourish! A person who has not felt loved, has no reserves of love or kindness to give and this leads to a lack of empathy!
  13. Four questions that drive our deepened understanding of educational neuroscience in schools.
  14. Am I important to someone here?
  15. Am I good at something here?
  16. Am I able to affect change or my world in here?
  17. Can I share my gifts with someone here?


Dual Reflection Sheets

Dr. Lori Desautels

Butler University

Fall 2016

When there is a growing conflict in the classroom… it takes two to battle and in our classes and presentations, I have developed dual thought sheets that model for the student how we too could “do it better!!” Below are some questions for this form!


  1. What is our challenge?
    What led up to this challenge?
    3. How did we handle this together and or apart?
    4. Cold we have prevented this challenge/ problem?
    5. What are two adjustments we will make the next time?

Additional Questions to move the brain from the limbic response to the frontal lobe responses.


  1. What do you want?
  2. Do you have a plan?
  3. How can I help you?
  4. What feels difficult?
  5. What could be the best possible outcome?
  6. What is the worst thing that could happen?
  7. Is your interpretation really true?
  8. How do you know this?
  9. What are two steps to improve this situation?


My very good friend and co-author Lori Desautels put this together!

What Great Teachers Know About The Brain

By Lori Desautels, Ph.D

Principles that great teachers know!!

( From Mind Brain and Education Science- Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa )

  1. Great teachers know that each brain is unique and uniquely organized.
  2. Great teachers know that all brains are not equally good at everything.
  3. Great teachers know that the brain is a complex dynamic system and is changed daily by experiences.
  4. Great teachers know that learning is a constructivist process and that the ability to learn continues through the developmental stages as an individual matures.
  5. Great teachers know that the search for meaning is innate in human nature.
  6. Great teachers know that the brain has a high degree of plasticity and develops throughout the lifespan.     
  7. Great teachers know that Mind Brain Education applies to all ages.
  8. Great teachers know that learning is based in part on the brain’s ability to self-correct.
  9. Great teachers know that the search for meaning occurs through pattern recognition.
  10. Great teachers know that brains seek novelty.
  11. Great teachers know that emotions are critical to detecting patterns, to decision-making, and to learning.  
  12. Great teachers know that learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat.
  13. Great teachers know that human learning involves both focused attention and peripheral perception!
  14. Great teachers know that feedback is critical to learning.
  15. Great teachers know that learning relies on memory and attention.
  16. Great teachers know that the brain depends on interactions with other people to make sense of social situations. We are relational beings!
  17. Great teachers know that the brain conceptually processes parts and wholes simultaneously.
  18. Great teachers know that learning is holistic engaging mind, body and spirit. 
  19. Great teachers know that to reach a child, you must understand their unique brain!
  20. Great teachers know that relationships and the nurturing of those, balancing head and heart is extravagant learning and teaching!
  21. Great teachers know that to listen, is to listen without a response!
  22. Great teachers know that respect for one another drives motivation and therefore learning and teaching in its finest moments.

Let us know what you think….

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