Contributed by Pamela Nevills
Connecting the Common Core learning to neuroscience is a no-brainer!
There are many well-established truths from neuroscience that help teachers become better directors of learning. Teachers understand how working memory and long-term memory affect student learning. They can use information about neuroplasticity to inform classroom practices. Knowing that active engagement stimulates neuron networks in specified places in the human brain encourages them to plan activities that require students to be active learners. Understanding why some students are attentive and are able to filter unneeded distractive sensory input and why other students have trouble staying on task allows teachers to teach each learner. Teaching students to help themselves develop as competent learners is important work that makes sense when it is put in “brain terms.”
All these insights come together in Build the Brain the Common Core Way, a new book for teachers striving to develop deep learning strategies for students. This new book is intended to spark their energy for the entire Common Core implementation process by empowering them and exciting them about their role and their potential. Principals and other administrators are encouraged to see the talent and persistence in their teachers. Everyone is looking for enticing, fresh teaching strategies that beg to be tried immediately and are easy to implement. As teachers dig deeper into implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) they thirst for more ways they can provide interesting, quality experiences for their student learners.
It’s all about student learning
Educators are accepting the premise that “learning is all about what is happening for students.” That belief provides a new way to design lesson or big unit study that fits the Common Core requirements. Teachers want practical, “try this now” ideas. There can be an almost whimsical excitement with even more gratifying possibilities that emerge as teachers explore new strategies. But don’t be misled, the activities in Build the Brain the Common Core Way are serious activities for students with respect for the important learning that must be done. Educators are challenged as directors of learning to place students in situations that draw them into intense involvement as learners.
Teachers leading staff development
The American Educator addressed teachers’ perceptions of the Common Core (summer, 2013). Members of the American Federation of Teachers responded to a survey about the CCSS and overwhelmingly supported it. While 78 percent of the teachers said they already received staff development related to the CCSS, less than half, 43 percent, felt the training was adequate for them to teach to the new standards. Build the Brain the Common Core Way plants a desire for teachers to take a fresh look at learning and promotes confidence by identifying all the skills teachers already possess to help them with implementation.
Common Core staff development supports teachers as learners and leaders with research and best practices. During the very change process of implementing the Common Core, staff development that is classroom-embedded is touted as being ultimately successful. Teachers can learn, lead, study, and work together as part of a school team with this book as a prompt for discussion, problem solving, critical thinking, and development of new strategies and ideas. The entire education system directing Common Core implementation is challenged to move steadily, purposefully, and incrementally forward over a relatively short timeframe.
A powerful time for education
It is a match! Connecting Common Core expectations and neurology make sense. This is the time for brain science to impact what is happening in the classroom. In my book, teachers are admonished to make good decisions about the time and energy their students spend on each task. There is precious little time during the school day to prepare our nation’s children for the world. If teachers understand what happens when children learn at any grade level and at any level of intensity, teaching practices will improve. It is a powerful time to be a teacher and a pivotal time to be the recipient of a world-class education through the Common Core.
Through her diverse professional background, Pamela Nevills has acquired a passion for teaching that is based on research and principles from neuroscience. Successful, competent learners result when teachers understand how learning happens. Exploring and developing the best instructional practices that affect all levels of the school system forms the basis of her work. She is the author of Build the Brain the Common Core Way.