iLead with the Brain in Mind Brain-Based Training for Change Agents Eric Jensen Conference January 16-18, 2012
Learning Agenda • How to Build Student Achievement • How to Plan and Present Staff Development • How to Get Staff on Board to Improve Any School
Raise your hand if you heard . . . • Neurogenesis • Neuroplasticity • Growth • Hope
Critical Questions Is it even possible to take the struggling, underperforming learners and turn them into high-capacity students who graduate? Can the human brain change that much, that fast? If you answer “No,” is it due to student’s limitations or our own?
Old Paradigm: Brains stay the same as do our students. New Understanding: Brains can and do change everyday, but if something doesn’t change in a student’s experience (school and/or home), neither will his or her brain! “If we keep using the same strategies, and they keep failing, who is really the slow learner?”
Neurogenesis • Generation of neurons. • Neurogenesis occurs in three known areas, each with important roles in memory and learning. • If connections aren’t made between new neurons and others, they will die.
Neuroplasticity • Lifelong ability of the brain to reorganize neural pathways (dendrite addition and pruning)
Neuroplasticity • Changes in brain activity • Changes in gray matter volume
Capacity for Change • Exercise • Diet • Sleep • Allostatic Load – stress level • Mental Stimulation • Novelty • Variety • Challenge
Positively Impact Neurogenesis and Neuroplasticity “High Return” Achievement Factors Within Our Control • Stu__________ eng__________ • Ho__________ and gr__________ mindset • As__________ (formative and summative) • Rel__________ building skills (multi-level) • Exe__________ fun__________ skills
Characteristics of different Types of Memory Kind of memory duration type of information Short term seconds verbal or non-verbal Working seconds any kind Episodic hours to days details of experiences Autobiographical lifetime basic facts/conceptual knowledge Semantic lifetime with knowledge including regular exposure personal facts Procedural lifetime once skill any skill that can be used is established automatically Source: Working Memory and learning, Susan Gathercole and Tracy Alloway, Table 1.1, pg 17
Let the memory games begin! Read the following words silently. When they disappear, see if you can recall the words in order. • Green yellow purple • white orange
Working Memory • Working memory is a term used by psychologists to refer the ability we have to hold and manipulate information in the mind over short periods of time. • It provides a mental workspace or jotting pad that is used to store important information in the course of the our everyday lives. • It is crucial for acquiring new learning, using prior learning to manipulate or process information, or to change information into new learning.
What is the meaning of the sentence below? The man bought a hot dog at the fair. The brain makes associations and connections. • Did you determine the meaning to be: • the man bought a live dog that was over heated • a frankfurter
How does poor working memory impact academic progress Reading – impacts the mapping between the sounds in the language and individual letters and combination of letters. Math – mental math is heavily dependent on working memory, working memory overload during numeration activities will result in frequent errors and task failure. Writing - poses substantial demands on working memory. Science and Social Studies – reading skills are being used to process the text and vocabulary and make new connections. Verbal and written language – word retrieval for students with poor working memory is a challenge. Second language learners and students with, low language skills, are processing the concept while their working memory is retrieving the necessary language Source: Working Memory and learning, Susan Gathercole and Tracy Alloway, Table 1.1, pg. 17
Working Memory can (and should) be Improved! The researcher said, “We found that 15 minutes of training per day for 5 weeks had significant effects on working memory and after 3 months, over 90% of the gains were preserved.” Training and transfer effects of executive functions in preschool children, Lisa B. Thorell, Sofia Lindqvist, Sissela Bergman, Gunilla Bohlin, and Torkel Klingberg
Top 5 Reading Strategies • Skill building for 20-90 min daily with high quality reading program • Provide books for students to take home • Teach and strengthen working memory • Allow student choice of high-interest books for guided independent reading • Teach vocabulary every day and follow up • Building Math Skills • Estimation and counting activities daily • Connect to real world using daily activities • Working memory activities daily Eric Jensen, Game Changers, Jensen Learning, pg. 12
http://www.cogmed.com/working-memory-challenge Teaching with the Brain in Mind, Revised 2nd Edition By Eric Jensen Enriching the Brain: How to Maximize Every Learner's Potential By Eric Jensen Brain-Compatible Strategies From Corwin Press Joyful Fluency: Brain-Compatible Second Language Acquisition By Lynn Dhority, Eric Jensen The Great Memory Book By Karen Markowitz, Eric P. Jensen Brain-Based Learning: The New Paradigm of Teaching By Eric P. Jensen How the Brain Learns – David A Sousa Designing Brain Compatible Learning – Gayle Gregory and Terence Parry How the ELL Brain Learns – David A Sousa How the Brain Learns to Read – David A Sousa Working Memory and Learning – Susan Gathercole and Tracy Alloway www.cogmed.com Kidsmemory.com
Steps For a Great Staff Development • Ask, “What is my desired end point?” • Describe evidence of learning success • Opening / housekeeping • Initial buy-in • Discovery of prior knowledge • New content explored • Content/skill processing activities • Formative assessment for mastery • Consolidation (encoding and transfer) • Closure time (celebration and next steps)
Buy – In Strategies For buy-in, you can use 6 strategies to get your staff to be “hungry.”
Three Buy – In Strategies • Use their own experience to validate an idea (Have you ever noticed that….) • Share fresh research you learned to bias their behavior (I just read a new article…) • Use the “experimental” strategy (This is very new. So we’ll see what happens…)
Three More Buy – In Ideas • Use a quick benefit to boost reward path -WIIFM (“How would you like to get out of here early for lunch?”) • Use raw enthusiasm • Framing
What is Framing? It is the process of adding an intentional bias to the message. It gives the listener: • a “slant” or “point-of-view” • a “lens” through which to see • a “spin” • a “filter” through which to hear
Framing Examples • Before we begin….. (disarming) • I shouldn’t be telling you this but…. (elicit curiosity) • You know what’s interesting?..... (this is worth listening to) • As someone who used to….(you’re listening to an authority) • From an insiders point-of-view…..(this perspective is really good)
More Framing Ideas • Here’s a good one…. (pay attention to this) • You know what I found to be interesting….(this is not as boring as before) • You won’t believe this….(be ready to be shocked) • As someone who used to call her a friend…(I have “hot” insider knowledge few others have) • Hey, can you keep a secret?....(you won’t hear this just anywhere)
Three Bonus Buy-In Ideas • Ask a little, take a lot (stair step activities; do micro chunks with no apologies) • Let music solve your problem (songs can do the “heavy lifting” for you) • Invite a team leader or other staff to start an activity
Getting Staff on Board All Aboard!
Strategies to Get Staff on Board Transparency (Builds Trust and Reduces Delusions) Create Ownership (Make the Problem and the Solution All Theirs) Shrink the Change (Make the Solution Seem Possible) Deal with Stress/Distress (Its Killing the Change Process and Some Staff) Power of the Nudge (Smart Nudges can Turn distractions into Success) Focus (Doing the Basics Very Well is Priceless)
Transparency… • How decisions are being made • What the scores are • Funding levels • Accountability for Individuals • Opportunities • Where the cuts are likely • What needs to happen
Which One of These is “The Truth” • Many teachers never thought they “signed up” for the intensity and testing climate they face daily. • Many teacher never thought the accountability would get so personal, so often, with such serious consequences. • Many teachers never thought their own stress levels would be pushed up so much. They don’t have the coping skills. • Many teachers have lost the passion for their current job, but in this economy, they can’t quit and find a new job. • Many teachers are unwilling to face a new reality: they might not be as competent as they used to think they were. • Many teachers know they are not a star, but there’s no way to get them up to speed to build their own capacity.
Script for Transparency: Acknowledge “Reality” “Listen, your job has more accountability, more paperwork, more meetings, more focus on testing and more stakes in the game than you expected when you sign up. Your job requires a greater number and wider range of skills and more unflinching positivity than you ever dreamed of. You are being asked to do more with less: there are dwindling resources, with larger class sizes, more program cuts and fewer counselors and special services. I am sorry that’s happening. We administrators are being squeezed, staff developers are asked to cram more into less time and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. So, I am on your side…what are our options?”
Create/Develop Ownership Shift the perspective “framing” so that your staff looks to each other and inward for solutions. How do you do this with staff that have gone “helpless” on you?
Develop Ownership Additional Ideas… “How about if we find you some help? When is the next time we can get your team together?” Say, “Here is what I CAN do and what I DON’T have the resources to do…” “Sometimes the person who discovered the problem also has some thoughts on what some solutions might be. What are they thinking might work?” “At the moment, my brain is fried. If you were to just throw out a couple of wild ideas to solve this, what might they be?”
Strategies to Develop Greater Staff Ownership CHOICE: The more input staff has, the more vested they get. Provide opportunities to make decisions. ____________________________ WIIFM: Can you make immediate gains or benefits for the ownership (e.g. privileges)? ________________________________ IDENTIFY: The more their name and reputation is on the process, project or result, the more vested they become. _______________________ RESOURCES: The more resources they had to get themselves, the better they use them. __________________________ YOUR OWN FAVORITE: ______________________________________
Shrink the Change Figure out how to shrink the changes into bite-sized chunks. Make the steps easy! Start with simple and small changes
What’s the Single Greatest Motivator to Humans in a Workplace? Is it… • Recognition for good work • Incentives for work well done • Management support • Interpersonal support (other staff) • Clear, achievable goals • Making progress
Which of the Following Seem “Doable” To a Busy Staff at an Underperforming School • Raising AYP • Add 2 New Engagement Strategies This Week • Boosting Daily Attendance • Increasing Graduation Rates • Use Working Memory Builders 3X This Week • Reducing School Suspensions • Implementing One Formative Assessment Strategy All Week • Ending Bullying This Month
STRESS/DISTRESS Chronic Stress (common among many staff & students) does the following: • Impairs social skills • Reduces working memory • Crashes creativity • Fosters existing habits • Saps energy levels • Inhibits motivation • Crushes teamwork • and worse of all…inhibits new behaviors
What is Allostatic Load? “Adjusted stress points which create excess demands on your mind and body that chronically deplete your available resources.” EXAMPLES: PTSD, Learned Helplessness, Depression, General Anxiety Disorder
Why Care About Allostatic Load? This condition is highly damaging for your staff. Allostatic load reduces memory, their social skills, creativity, intelligence, deferred gratification and patience.
Stress and Distress • Stress (on/off) is healthy for us. It often builds resilience. “Eustress” is the healthy stress you feel from a workout or excitement. • Distress (chronic or acute) is toxic to our brain and body. It typically drains resources.
Title I Schools and Allostasis • Chronic stress impairs working memory (kids forget directions, can’t juggle content in their head and struggle to process simple problems) • Chronic stress impairs social skills (teachers and kids are more rude and less forgiving) • Chronic stress impairs habit changes (staff and kids repeat the same old behaviors)
Six Types of NudgesHow Timing and Intention Make a Huge Difference • Ncentives (rarely work the way you intend, test ideas 1st) • Understand staff paths (be in their shoes to figure out what’ll get done easily) • Defaults should be planned on (the path of least resistance must be anticipated) • Give feedback to nudge (figure out the feedback that will prompt the change) • Expect Errors (build those into the nudges needed) • Structure Complex Choices (help staff who feel overwhelmed with choices)
Nudge the Environment Is Environment part of the problem…
Nudge the Environment …or Solution
Nudge Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
Focus Stay focused on just one thing at a time. Once it is mastered then you can move on.