The Vortex of Feeling and Learning… What does Educational Neuroscience look like in our schools?

The Vortex of Feeling and Learning
Educational Neuroscience in our Schools
“We are feeling creatures who think.”
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

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.

A. The educators and students are learning collectively about their own neuro-anatomy and how their feelings, thoughts and behaviors are intimately connected and affected to and by the CEO (the mind) while trickling into the body, (Emotional, Social and Cognitive Health). When we spend some time, understanding that a brain is not a machine. It is not outside of us working on automatic. 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 victim of our feeling and thought processes which can lead to strong accountability!

B. 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, and 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.

C. 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.

D. 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, low stress, and improved engagement.

E. Teacher Brain Development- The most significant aspect of this Professional Development is the attention and care of the educator’s brain! 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.

Dr. Lori Desautels
School of Education and Exercise Science
Marian University

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