Friday, March 21, 2014

Guest Blog Post: Suggested Strategies to Spark Motivation and Promote Empowered Learners

by Kara R. Morrissette
Graduate of the Ed.S. program with a Major in Brain-Based Teaching (Concentration in Teacher Leadership) at Nova Southeastern University’s Fischler School of Education

This year I left a position as a resource teacher serving gifted students to begin a new adventure as a kindergarten classroom teacher in a new charter school on Tybee Island, Georgia. Leaving the security and blissful schedule I had secured in order to experience emerging readers firsthand as part of my dissertation research left me asking myself, “Are you crazy?”
Kara Morrissette

Today, I’m happy to have the opportunity to share with other educators working to promote a positive state in their own classroom communities some suggested strategies for implementing metacognitive strategies to extend neuroplasticity in young learners.

You Have a Voice
I started by using my voice to motivate and excite my students. My low-level “good morning” was replaced with more inflection, a smile, and eye contact as every child entered their learning environment. This tiny adjustment offered immediate results, including returned smiles, increased verbal interaction, and more hugs than I could count. Use your voice. Apply it in a positive manner. Your enthusiasm will motivate both you and your learners and engender personal excitement.

Encourage That Brain
Brain-based strategies offer learners an education based in neuroscientific research.  As Mary Ruth Coleman explained in a 2005 article that appeared in Teaching Exceptional Children, strategies taught with a “metacognitive approach to instruction” allow learners struggling in a specific area to take ownership of their personal learning. Coleman further explained that students practicing brain-based strategies are better equipped to “define their learning goals and monitor their progress."

I learned the value of implementing “giving the brain a kiss” in order to raise motivation in my young learners. I demonstrated how when we read or work in small groups or independently, we can offer our brain a kiss to recognize our ideas are leading us to answers that are on target. My little friends immediately expressed enthusiasm and felt they were guiding their own responses to questions. Effortless and free, this strategy aids learners in focusing their learning.

Personal Excitement—Let It Shine
Brain-based learning stimulates emotion. As Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers have written, cultivation of brain-based strategies increases optimism, leading to enthusiasm for learning gains. Teachers who model their personal excitement for learning spread that enthusiasm. Demonstrating a love for reading, art, math, sciences, or history opens doors for students. Bring your love of the subject matter to your classroom where your learners are perceptive recipients of your inner teaching light and let it shine through your instruction.

Wilson and Conyers’s approach is focused on developing state, meaning, attention, retention, and transfer, resulting in heightening an optimistic attitude and enhanced learning. Promoting positive state in your classroom can be spontaneous and requires little practice or effort. Empower your learners and yourself and support your classroom with metacognitive strategies. You may find yourself giving your own brain a kiss. I certainly did.

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