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.
When teaching second-grade at Rockbridge Elementary School in Norcross, Ga., Mary Driskill discovered that a little bit of optimism can go a long way. While earning her Ed.S. degree with a major in Brain-Based Teaching, Ms. Driskill learned the concept of Practical Optimism that links positive expectations for learning with positive outcomes. She shared that concept with her students and was pleased to see the children employ more positive thinking to achieve better results.
“I found that it helps to teach those kinds of strategies about how we learn and how we think,” explained Ms. Driskill, whose story was featured in the BrainSMART publication, Effective Teaching, Successful Students. “You can teach children cognitive assets that help them come up with the right answers.”
Ms. Driskill, whose teaching experience includes several years in the Gwinnett County Public Schools, used the brain-based teaching philosophy that children can get smarter based on hard work and the drive to achieve more.
“I agree with the brain-based teaching philosophy that it’s important to praise students’ efforts and not just their results,” Ms. Driskill affirmed. “A lot of times, they need be told that the work might be difficult, but the effort is worthwhile, and while it might not bring immediate results, eventually it will.”
Another important concept that Ms. Driskill learned was the vastness of human potential, and she used that in the classroom to help students explore their ability to excel at whatever they tried to do.
“Every human has potential,” she said. “It’s just not quite certain when we’re going to realize it. It might be at a different stage of life than other people, but we still have it.”