Editor’s Note: In conjunction with the 20-year anniversary of BrainSMART, we are sharing some of our educators' stories. All of the featured educators earned their Master’s in Brain-based Teaching curricula and/or the Minor in Brain-based Leadership, co-developed by Dr. Donna Wilson and Dr. Marcus Conyers, co-founders of BrainSMART. Below is a synopsis of one of those stories.
Students are never too young to learn the value of metacognition. For several years, Regina Cabadaidis has taught this concept to her pre-K/K students at S.D. Spady Elementary School, a Montessori Magnet School in Delray Beach, Florida.
“We talk about metacognition all the time,” Ms. Cabadaidis said in an interview for the BrainSMART publication, Effective Teaching, Successful Students. “It was one of the first words I taught them.”
Ms. Cabadaidis learned the concept of metacognition while earning her M.S. degree with a major in Brain-Based Teaching and was eager to share it with her young students, ages 3 to 6. Though it was a big word for such small students, she was able to explain it to them as “thinking about your thinking” and introduced the concept by relating it to their daily routines.
“One of the first examples I gave them was that when we wake up in the morning, there are certain things we need to do, and we need to make sure we know what those things are so we can get to school on time,” Ms. Cabadaidis explained.
The concept of metacognition also comes up when Ms. Cabadaidis reads stories with her students. She recalls a time, a few years ago, when students were discussing The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The children realized that the title character lacked metacognition because he never stopped to think about the consequences of sneaking into Farmer McGregor’s farm. “He went there when his mother told him not to, and he got into a lot of trouble!” they told Ms. Cabadaidis. “He lost the brass buttons to his new blue coat.”
Another important BrainSMART concept that Ms. Cabadaidis uses with her young students is the Three Phases of Genius—input, processing and output. She has observed that these phases coincide in many respects with the cognitive development exhibited by her students. The goal is for the children to continue to use these methods of learning as they move through their years in school—and beyond.
“That’s what we really want—whatever skills they’ve learned in my classroom to stay with them as they go from year to year,” Ms. Cabadaidis concluded.