Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Primary and Nursery School in England Uses Our "Flourishing" Approach

We are delighted to learn that Millbrook Primary and Nursery School in Manchester, England, is using our book, Flourishing in the First Five Years: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to the Development of Young Children, to underpin their educational approach to learning and teaching.

We wrote Flourishing in the First Five Years to take readers on a fascinating journey of discovery about what can be done to help young children realize more of their unique potential for learning. The educators at Millbrook have rightly zeroed in on our treatment of the topic of teaching young children how to become self-regulated learners, one of the main ideas from our book.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

4 Ways to Create an Optimistic School Culture


Imagine if each school day every teacher arrived with a contagious, optimistic attitude. Research suggests that positive emotions can help solve problems, reinforce resilience, strengthen relationships, and even improve educational outcomes. An important aspect of effective leadership is creating and supporting environments that cultivate optimism, and the start of a brand new year is a great time to cultivate this attitude in your practice!

Here are four of our practical strategies for creating a positive and optimistic school culture.

1. Practice self-care.


Educators do the essential and difficult work of schooling young people, so it is important for them to remember to practice self-care. After one of our leadership workshops, a principal asked, “What can I do to reduce my stress?” He said he felt pressure to perform at peak levels—all day, every day—when meeting with teachers and interacting with students. We shared that leaders can benefit from practicing the be-great-for-eight-and-take-a-break strategy. When possible, focus on leadership work for eight minutes then take a short pause to reflect. The principal stated that he loved this idea, and a big smile appeared on his face. He said, “This is a much better idea than what I usually attempt to do, which is to be full on full time, which makes me frustrated and exhausted.”

Thursday, December 27, 2018

ACE Report Cites Our Work in Self-Regulation and Metacogition

A recent report from the American Council on Education, Unpacking Relationships: Instruction and Student Outcomes, references our work in the areas of self-regulation and metacognition. The authors of this prestigious report write, “Students are more likely to persist and graduate when actively involved in the educational process.”

Citing our book, Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching, the authors continue, “Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers (2013) outline five ideas from cognitive science research that are applicable to teaching and learning, one of which focuses upon the role of metacognition and reflection to enhance students’ active engagement in their own learning.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Educators Recommend Using Our HEAR Strategy During the Holiday Season

In the weeks leading up to the holidays, teachers tell us that it is sometimes difficult to help students stay focused on learning. Teachers around the world use our HEAR strategy to assist students to learn how to internalize the skill of active listening in order to understand what others are saying.

Susan Marie Poulette, CCC-SLP, a speech and language pathologist and educator, references our article in her piece titled “Classroom Listening Before the Holidays—Herding Cats?”

Friday, November 30, 2018

Helping Struggling Students Build a Growth Mindset

In one of our Edutopia posts, Marcus and I talk about the importance of helping struggling students build a growth mindset.

Our research aligns with Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset—acting on the belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.

As we explain in the post, a positive mindset focuses on the gains that are possible when students persevere through learning challenges. It’s important to maintain a positive mindset, even when school can be difficult, and for teachers to help students remain motivated to work hard to persevere through those difficulties.

In the post, we present five strategies to help struggling students develop a growth mindset. They include:
  • Encourage optimism about learning. You can do this by modeling practical optimism, sharing examples of how you overcame learning obstacles, and maintaining a positive learning atmosphere.
  • Teach students to learn more effectively. We like the metaphor of teaching students how to “drive their brains” through the use of cognitive strategies.
  • Maintain success files. This contains evidence that helps students internalize and remember their learning successes.
  • Use growth assessments. This will help students identify their strengths and areas of weakness that need further practice and reinforcement.
  • Let students choose. Giving students the opportunity to choose topics of personal interest to study helps them maintain interest and motivation.
For more information about how a growth mindset helps struggling students, read the entire post at Edutopia

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Our Ed Week Post Stresses the Importance of the Caring Classroom Where Students Learn How to Learn

In responding to Education Week as a part of the popular Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo, Marcus and I described our exciting, unique, and productive approach that we have taught educators for relating with students.

The question for this blog post was: "What are the best ways to build relationships with students?"

“Our cognitive approach positions the teacher-student relationship as one where effective teachers are expert learners who explicitly teach students how to learn in ways they can use across contexts in academics, life, and on the job,” we wrote in our reply. “Teachers find this fulfilling because they know how important it will be for their students to be able to learn new skills to enjoy success across many jobs across their lifespans.”

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Angel Rodriguez, Brain-Based (BrainSMART) Teaching Graduate, Finds His "Dream School"

We were pleased to see Angel Rodriguez, who earned his Ed.S. degree in Brain-Based (BrainSMART) Teaching, featured in a recent article of The Gainesville Times, as he takes on the role of principal at Lyman Hall Elementary in Gainesville, Georgia.

Angel is quoted in the article as calling Lyman his "dream school." The majority of the students at the school are Latino, which reflects Rodriguez's own upbringing as a child growing up with parents from Puerto Rico and Cuba. Much of the student population is learning English as a second language and receiving free or reduced-price lunches, which is exactly the demographic that he wishes to serve.

Prior to coming to Lyman, Angel was an assistant high school principal with Gwinnett County Schools. He had experience in the elementary school level, and he told The Times: "In my heart, I always wanted to come back to elementary."