At Optimise Learning, we embed brain compatible teaching strategies into our lessons, to enhance the opportunity for student learning.
I was recently asked by several parents; “What does brain compatible teaching actually mean?”
This is a great question, and one which we will address in this, and our next blog post.
Brain compatible teaching can be defined as educators using teaching methods, planning lessons and facilitating classroom experiences for students that are based on the latest scientific research about how the brain learns most effectively and efficiently.
There are 12 principles that many educators and schools reference when striving to create brain compatible lessons and classroom environments for students. In this post we will provide a brief overview of 6 brain based learning principles and consider their implications for teachers. The remaining 6 principles will be the focus of our next blog post.
Brains are dynamic, not static
Principle: Recent research has revealed that our brains change throughout our lifetime. Our brain’s changes are influenced by range of factors. Those factors include nutrition, stressors, exercise, socialisation, learning, growing and aging.
Implications for Teachers: It is important for teachers to understand that the brains of their students change every day. In fact, every student’s brain is changing as they attend school. Students can benefit from being taught attention skills, memory skills and processing skills.
Human brains are Unique
Principle: Every human brain as unique as a fingerprint.
Implications for Teachers: Respecting and catering for the uniqueness of individual students by not only differentiating lessons, but also by using variety and choice in their teaching process are strategies teachers can implement.
Brains Use Active Construction of Learning
Principle: The human brain is designed for interactive learning. Human’s are extremely dependent at birth, more so than most other mammals, and require environmental experiences for their brain to develop properly.
Implications for Teachers: Student benefit enormously from participating in active learning experiences that engage most of their senses, and allow them to piece together new learning, and construct meaning.
Human brains are social brains
Principle: Social experiences influence the human brain in multiple ways. Just twenty years neuroscientists discovered that people experiencing isolation and poor social conditions have fewer brain cells! The student experience at school is potentially a highly social one.
Implications for Teachers: Use targeted, planned, diverse social groupings within the classroom and school environment through mentoring, teams and buddy systems. Teachers need to understand the importance of student-to-student relationships, and teacher-to-student relationships, and develop ways to positively foster them.
Physical and cognitive connectivity
Principle: Whilst it is commonly understood that our brains, bodies and minds are complexly connected, neuroscientists have discovered that our brains can grow new neurons (brain cells) throughout a lifetime, and that they can influence memory, mood and learning. This process can be regulated by physical activities that are categorised as gross motor, including power walking, running, dancing, aerobics, team sports and swimming.
Implications for Teachers: It is important for teachers to regularly provide opportunities for students to be physically active at school. Physical activity raises levels of the ‘good’ chemicals for thinking, focus, learning and memory (noradrenaline, dopamine and cortisol). Research shows that students need 30-60 minutes of physical activity each day to lower their stress levels and boost learning.
Uniqueness is the rule, not the exception
Principle: As stated in principle 2, each person’s brain is as unique as their fingerprint. Neuroscientists now understand that instead of there being mostly “typical” students with some with “differences”, the opposite is true.
Implications for Teachers: Make differences the rule, not the exception in the classroom by allowing students to celebrate diversity, unique abilities, talents and interests .
*Reference: An Introduction To Brain Compatible Learning by Eric Jensen
Optimise Learning Co-Founder