Brain Power!

How understanding the brain will help your students go far.

Anatomy of the Brain

First things first. To understand how we can help our students by harnessing all of that brain power we have to know how the brain works. We need to look at the different parts of the brain and what they are responsible for in our bodies. I found this super helpful video on brain anatomy by CrashCourse! Hank goes through the various parts of our brain and how they relate to our everyday functions, actions, thoughts, and ideas.
Meet Your Master: Getting to Know Your Brain - Crash Course Psychology #4

"Biology gives you a brain. Life turns it into a mind." Jeffrey Eugenides

Individualized Not Standardized

Anyone who has been in a classroom setting of any age will tell you that no two students are alike so why are we teaching to a standard? We can tell by studying the brain that not all students learn in the same way. For a while, and sometimes still today students can be placed into two groups, capable and incapable. Those that are deemed incapable are sometimes unfortunately written off and we just have the mindset that there is no hope for them. Perhaps we could change this. We need to meet the needs of all students, even if that is going to take more time and effort. By developing curriculum around the brain and how it works we can get students excited about learning and we can encourage children and allow each and every one to reach their full potential. Albert Einstein once said, "Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid". By understanding what makes us tick and what works best for a student at the individual level we can foster a classroom atmosphere where everybody knows that they matter and that they are capable of way more than what the world tells them.

Stressed Students = Recipe for Failure

It has been said that when students begin to get bored or certain other stressors are applied, the brain starts to not function as well as it should. These students are then lost. No information is retained. If teachers understood this process we could work to keep students engaged and prevent these stressors, therefore facilitating learning for the students. An article by Judy Willis states "When they [teachers] understand that the brain responses in the high-stress state are neither voluntary student choices nor reflective of a student’s academic potential, knowledgeable teachers recognize that their interventions can reduce stress, return students' voluntary control of their behavior, and promote successful memory construction and cognitive processing in the PFC [prefrontal cortex]." This sets up for a more effective classroom and a better learning envrionment for everyone in the classroom. Teachers will understand how they have the ability to reduce stress/boredom/frustration by providing all students the opportunity to learn at a level that is appropriate yet challenging for them. The motivation in those students as a result will increase the expectation of acheivement. Teachers also need to be motivated to put in the work to differentiate instruction for students on the individual level. Perhaps a full understanding of how the brain works will provide the motivation that they need, because then they will understand how students perform and what makes them succeed.

Teaching Teachers About the Brain : A Benefit for All

When teachers understand how the brain works they will have a more optimistic approach to their instruction. This is because instead of stressing over students not getting the information right away or having students zone out they can develop plans built around the brain and how it works. By doing this they realize the potential for all students to succeed in some way. It really becomes a motivator for an educator to realize that they have the ability to make a difference in the lives of each student and they will help that student to develop skills that they will take beyond the classroom and help them in the future. Teachers will also be motivated to reasearch new ideas to apply to their brain based lesson plans. In the words of Dr Willis, "Teachers can help all children build their brain potential -- regardless of past performance -- bridge the achievement gap, and reach their highest 21st century potential starting now".

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Brain Based Teaching Strategies!

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Works Cited