Explore Nueroscience in Education with Dr. Lori Desautels

New Reflections from Second Year Teachers! (It is about going within)

To all my readers

Below are reflections from second year teachers who are seeking self-reflection not only from their students but for themselves. This is where the rubber meets the road in “how” we address and sit beside those children and adolescents who dare you to teach them with their unique dispositions, learning styles and “ways of being” in the world! I hope you enjoy!


Ebony M. Lee



Making my Scholars Empathetic

                In my English 10 class we have been discussing relationships by reading “Tuesdays with Morrie.” This particular reading that covers the life and impending death of Morrie Schwartz, which takes a look at life, and death and the impact that relationships have on individuals. This unit really requires me to look at the how I influence my scholars, and what it means to have a meaningful relationship with others. Furthermore, you also have to analyze the theme of Life and Death. Prior to starting the actual text, we begin to really delve into how we can relate to others based upon our feelings. It was extremely important for me to make connections for my scholars in order for them to make both an emotional and social connection.

In an effort to make connections we took part in a game called “Man in the Mirror.” This game requires trust and honesty about one’s past, present, and future. The game is an opportunity for scholars in a community to share themselves in an intimate in truthful manner to ensure that we understand who we are whey we do, say, and think the way we do. The most important aspect of this game is the fact that as a teacher, I have to ensure that my scholars understand that the class has to be respectful of one another, trust one another, and feel safe with one another. In order to set this expectation, I shared who I was with my class.

I created a safe place for my scholars by sharing my story. I think that because I shared my story more scholars were willing and prepared to share their story. I looked into the mirror and told of my past hurt, my present state, and my future plans. As I shared my story, which some might consider shameful and painful, I found myself laughing and crying. As I looked around the classroom, some of my scholars appeared to have felt my story. I could see tears welling up in their eyes and concern on their face. So, they decided to share their stories. They talked about their past hurt and present pain. Many did not know what to expect for the future. This experience allowed us to share our story. It allowed us to see the common strand of humanity that we all share. This was the first time I saw scholars being empathetic with each other in a way that was genuine and sincere.

I would recommend that after a safe environment is created in the classroom, every teacher does something similar in the classroom. This was truly a life changing and classroom changing experience, because we were able to see how many things we had in common. We were able to experience a true connection with one another and we knew then that we have more in common than we would have ever thought.


Ebony M. Lee


Self-Assessment Social/Emotional Development


I gave my English 10 scholars the Social/Emotional Development Assessment, because these scholars seemed to be dealing with multiple issues both in and outside of school. Several scholars were dealing with family “drama” as well as school drama. I approached the assessment by explaining to my scholars that at times it is important to take an assessment of our actions in order to understand why we react in different ways. I discussed the questions with my scholars and explained what each question was asking them. Most scholars were not sure how to approach the assessment. I explained that it is important to be honest with your responses to ensure that they could create reasonable goals.

After reviewing the scholar’s assessment it was determined that most scholars are aware of any deficiencies that they have in terms of their social emotional development. They are aware of the poor choices that they make as well as when they are frustrated and what makes them frustrated. The problem was that most scholars did not have a plan of action for how to react when they are having a problem.  Furthermore, the scholars did not have any goals set or plan of action for their social emotional development.

Taking the assessment allowed my scholars to reflect upon their struggles. They were able to really pinpoint some areas of their lives where they could really effect some positive change to help them better themselves and improve relationships. I encouraged my scholars to journal their feelings and emotions in order to see what their stressors actually are. I also encouraged my scholars to set goals that are personal in order to improve their self-esteem and how they are seen by others. The scholars were also able to determine who and what they could use as resources in order to achieve goals and develop socially.


Cody Stipes

Professor Desautels

EDU 549: Exceptional Needs

17 February, 2013


This American Life


First of all, this has been one of the most interesting and thought provoking pieces on education that I have ever listened to.  Of all of the topics discussed in this podcast, I especially found the discussion between Ira Glass, James Heckman, and Paul Tough on “non-cognitive” traits the most profound.  I especially appreciated the analogy described by Glass about the swinging pendulum of education where we have the polar opposites of teaching academic skills and teaching of character traits.

This was especially interesting for me because of some deep self-reflection I have been doing for the last few months.  I have been struggling with the idea of what is a teacher and what does that means.  Traditionally, I have felt teachers are here to help students grow and develop and lead them towards a pathway of success.  As a math teacher, I would help my students become strong mathematicians and teach the skills necessary to be successful in the real world when it came to all things about math.  However, where I am feeling some disconnect in that notion is the fact that I feel like I am being asked to do more than that.  I am being asked to be a pseudo parent for most of my scholars.

I knew coming into urban education, especially being an educator in a school where more than 60% of my students are on free or reduced lunch, that I would be walking into an educational environment much different than the one I had experienced growing up.  I assumed that many of my students would come from one-parent households, and I was correct.  A limited number of my students, I would say approximately 20%, come from a family where two parents are living in the same home.  I bring this up because what I believe Heckman, Tough, and Glass are seeing is a breakdown in the structure of families.

As the data shows, many students who drop out of school come from single parent households.  Many of these students do not have the non-cognitive skills that Heckman and Tough are talking about.  From my experience with my students in my classroom, I have noticed that the students who come from two parent households seem to have a lot of these “non-cognitive” skills more developed than students who come from single parent households.  However, there is no noticeable difference in the cognitive development of students from one or two parent households.  Ultimately, the latter point is what education cares about more right now.  As long as my students can perform on standardized assessments, then I am doing my job as an educator, but what I struggle with is this notion that academic skills will lead to success for students.  It is obviously a big piece, but I truly believe that the development of non-cognitive skills will lead to more long-term success in college and life.  That has been true for me in my life.

However, I am now starting to think more deeply about what prepares students for success.  In all of my years as a student, I can tell you about some amazing teachers that truly had an impact on my life.  They were all different types of people and came from different subject matters, but the one thing that they all had in common in my eyes was that I do not remember a single thing they taught me about their discipline.  All of the most important lessons that I learned from those educators had nothing to do with math, language arts, or history; they had everything to do with life and character.

In bringing this back to the podcast, I am starting to question more about what my main purpose is as an educator.  I have become so focused on academic skills and making sure students are prepared for the standardized assessments that I feel I have lost sight about what my true purpose is as an educator.  I am realizing more and more that I have to be a pseudo parent for some of my students and teach them these non-cognitive skills.  I have to be a disciplinarian and teach them about appropriate behaviors and I also need to love them unconditionally and tell them how proud I am of them.  It is a really tough job, especially when you have 48 kids, but it is a job worth doing.  I hope I can stop swinging the pendulum in my classroom and find a happy balance between teaching academic content and helping my young men learn about character and life.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Verified by MonsterInsights