Mirror Neurons

One Part of Unlocking Student Behavior

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Mirror neurons are the neurons that fire when we see someone perform an action and perform it or react to it. These neurons are important to us because they help us to understand some things about various subgroups of our students...

Do you wonder why you have to model something so that your students will really get it?

Do you wonder why some of your students just don't seem to understand your sense of urgency, or why you are angry?

Do you wonder why you "feel their pain"? And, vice versa?

Read on!

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Is it always exactly a mirror?

No, not always. Sometimes, a student sees you do something, such as open the door, and thinks it is time to leave; however, you have simply opened the door in order to allow fresh air inside the classroom. They have mirrored your action by starting to clear their desk. Your intention was to let in fresh air, but the students posited that it was time to leave.

Why? It seems that there is a link between what your action is and what your intent is. Clearly, there is an anticipatory mirroring that when an action occurs, although the intent of the action may vary.

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And, what if they're on the autism spectrum?

It's so frustrating. You are sending out the anger vibes, you want to know why the student is not listening, why they haven't turned in their homework again, and why they are now interrupting your conversation for the second time today?!??! Seriously, doesn't he understand? Is there some link broken in that brain of his?

NO! He probably doesn't. And, yes, there probably is a link problem.

If your student is on the autism spectrum, he probably has no idea why you are so upset, or even that you really are upset. His mirror neurons don't fire the same way that yours do, so he does not even understand that you're upset. His brain does not read your expressions.

Keep this in mind and be empathetic to his needs. Help him to know why you are saying something. HIs mind may process the information in a factual manner, depending where he is on the spectrum.

The Mirror Neurons Tell the Story

Your students can tell if your upset, you can just FEEL it when a student is trying so hard and they just don't get it, and you can all feel the thrill when the football team wins the championship.

It's awesome! It's Mirror Neurons.

Did you ever wonder why your class was a little more subdued when you were having a bad day? How about when you added an extra day of tutoring because you knew that Johnny would stay and you could help him get it? Or, when you put the class on an individual task so that you could go check on him? That's mirror neurons at work. You felt his pain - he has it, but you can feel it, you can understand it. You can empathize with him.

The same way that your students know when you're having a bad day and seem to be trying to give you a little bit of a break. It's happened to me - I'm holding my head in my hands, and they just chill. They don't even ask, they just start checking the Moodle for what's going on in class today. Makes you wonder why they can't do it every day. Don't push your luck:)!

So Why Does It All Matter?

Think about it this way - we're always wondering what we'd have to do to get inside those little brains and figure out what makes them tick.

HELLO!!! Study the brain a little more. Check it out... just this one little thing - mirror neurons - explains so much!