Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Cultivating Practical Optimism in Remote Learning Environments


As the COVID-19 pandemic moves into its second year, experts are expressing concerns about the long-term effects that remote learning are having on the ability of young students to achieve optimal academic results. There is an emotional and social toll as well. Students who learn exclusively at home without a classroom component are missing out on the in-person connections with teachers and other students that make traditional schooling so worthwhile. Parents, too, are suffering from stress and anxiety as they strive to help students maximize their learning experiences via computer screen.

Teachers can play an important role in relieving the stress, anxiety, and social isolation of remote learning by helping students and their parents strive for a more optimistic outlook of the online learning experience. There is scientific evidence to suggest that such an outlook can have a positive impact on learning. Neuroscientists recently discovered that optimism is associated with brain pathways connecting the left prefrontal region to the amygdala. Further research has demonstrated that optimism, traditionally considered to be an unchangeable trait, is a way of thinking that can be learned and enhanced.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Nutrition Tips for Busy Educators in the Age of COVID-19



Today, more than ever, good nutrition is essential to staying healthy. Eating a well-balanced diet has been proven to boost our immune system, which is a critical defense in guarding against the most devastating impacts of COVID-19.

Maintaining a healthy weight, limiting our sugar intake, eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoiding processed foods are among the ways we can fortify our immune system and protect ourselves against illness—not only from COVID-19 but also from such long-term health conditions as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. See the recommendations for the Healthy Eating Plate from the Harvard School of Public Health for a more complete look at what constitutes a daily nutritious diet.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Engaging Parental Support for Smarter Thinking


The various types of learning models being used during the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the way that teachers interact with students and with their parents. Whether teachers are at schools that currently use in-person, remote or hybrid learning approaches, they need parental support and cooperation more than ever to enhance their effectiveness.

Parents and teachers, working in partnership, can help children develop learning strategies that rely more heavily on executive function. The key is to focus on reinforcing messages and strategies that encourage children to take charge of their thinking—not only in virtual and in-person classroom settings but as part of their non-school activities as well. The ultimate goal is to teach children how to be the boss of their own brain.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Stay Healthy Through Regular Exercise

During the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers’ schedules have become more hectic than ever. Not only are they teaching classes—either virtually, in person, or a combination of the two—but many also are juggling family responsibilities and participating in their own children’s schooling. With so much going on in their lives, it can be difficult to set aside time for regular physical exercise—and yet it’s important to do so.

Along with a nutritious diet and sufficient sleep, exercise should be part of your daily routine. For teachers, exercise can be especially beneficial. Teachers who exercise regularly put themselves in a better position to remain fit, alert, and up to the physical demands of their profession.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Alleviating Stress in the Current Teaching Climate


As the COVID-19 crisis continues unabated in the new school year, teachers find themselves dealing with an unprecedented level of stress and anxiety. They feel the weight of responsibility required to keep their students safe while also feeling concern for their own health and wellbeing. Amidst the noisy debate about whether to have remote learning, in-person classes or some type of hybrid model, teachers are on the front lines in striving to ensure that children learn—no matter what venue of teaching prevails.

Our hearts go out to all of you in the teaching profession as you dedicate yourselves to doing your best under extraordinary circumstances. We’d like to suggest five strategies to help you navigate the day-to-day challenges of teaching so that it becomes less stressful and more rewarding.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Our New Book, “Developing Growth Mindsets,” Launches With ASCD


Helping students of all ages to develop a growth mindset will enable them to experience higher levels of success! That’s the main message of our latest book, Developing Growth Mindsets: Principles and Practices for Maximizing Students’ Potential, published by ASCD.

In our new book, we stress that human beings have tremendous potential to acquire new knowledge and develop new skills. As we explain, teachers are in a unique position to unleash the potential within every student by introducing them to the concepts of brain plasticity and malleable intelligence—i.e., the idea that learners can become functionally smarter through ongoing effort, perseverance, and the use of effective strategies.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Our EL Article Stresses the Importance of Believing in the Brain


We are pleased to hear from educators around the world who have received the May issue of EL, ASCD’s magazine for educational leaders. The issue features “Believing in the Brain,” an article that Marcus and I wrote on the importance of teaching students about brain plasticity as a means of helping them develop a growth mindset. 

The issue is devoted to the theme, “Learning and the Brain,” with additional articles covering such topics as neuroscience and psychology, the creative brain, picturing the brain, building teen brains, and more.