What THRIVING LEADERS Know About the Brain...
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Hello!  My name is Ernest Izard and as a long-term student of brain-based learning, the practice of teaching children from poverty, and now a keen understanding of trauma informed learning as a trainer, I maintain my steadfast belief that children can and will learn when taught in the ways they were created to learn best, and that no neglect, trauma or abuse is able to stand in the way of learning that is built upon relationship and precision-tuned teaching. 

I am writing blogs on behalf of Thriving Leaders Collaborative, LLC, in the areas of brain-based learning and trauma informed learning.  Thriving leaders know the brain can and does change, for the better, and sometimes, worse.  Educators especially know what neglect, abuse, and poverty can do to the learning brain at all grade levels.  In the weeks ahead, I will dialogue with you about the challenges and strategies for teaching the way the brain learns best, and how to heal, in the classroom, the toxic stress of students who have experienced adverse childhood events.  I will share a glimpse into the latest research, best practices, and learning resources to build your teaching and learning repertoire.  I also invite your questions and concerns from your own journey to change the lives of students through academic and personal success.

One of the overlapping areas in which I am working is how to foster an atmosphere of aha! moments in the classroom that will contribute to an increase in frequency of those insightful moments.  Once thought to be unpredictable, serendipitous moments of creativity, aha! moments, called by neuroscience researchers, insight solutions, actually can be primed and predicted by setting out a problem for solution and then changing the activity away from the problem to be solved.  This gives the right side of the brain time to tackle the problem.  Interestingly, in verbal insight solutions, fMRI scans and gamma wave studies from EEGs, it is the right side of the brain that lights up with increased activity, more so than the left side of the brain which is known for its verbal processing.

I believe a classroom atmosphere that is conducive to frequent aha! moments among all students will lead to enriching and lasting learning experiences. One way to accomplish this in the classroom is to decrease the stress levels of your students.  Stanford Professor of Biology and neurology, Robert Sapolski, wrote in his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, that toxic stress inhibits the neurotransmitter, glutamate, which is the most excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain.  Providing a calming, inviting atmosphere of respect and affirmation diminishes negative stress which literally creates a lack of mental space and time for learning.

Students who have experienced childhood trauma have brains that are on high alert for any threat.  Even the tiniest notion of a threat can mobilize instant misbehavior or more withdrawal from learning.  Leading students in the slow breathing techniques of mindfulness and giving students more control through opportunities and choices minimizes toxic stress.  Returning control to a student whose life has been out of his/her control through trauma, neglect or abuse is healing.

These are my thoughts for now.  What are yours?  Feel free to email me ernest@thrivingleaders.co Looking forward to the next visit here at Thriving Leaders Collaborative, LLC.

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