NED : A quote from one of the teachers we worked with recently:

TEACHER : Just had the best class with the toughest student. She came in with an attitude. She asked what we were doing. I gave her the notes and said we were doing a challenge. She said…”ugh…I hate these stupid challenges, they are so boring”. So I said…”then I’m not doing them right if it’s boring.” I asked her help me make it better and that I need her input. Then we do the challenge. She plugs in. She wants to help me make it better. She has a great time in class. Stays after laughing and telling me about a video that she wants to share that relates to the challenge. Also tells me how she would prefer to do the notes.

The challenge was about healthy behaviors, specifically sleep, nutrition, and exercise. It was a great lesson and she was in it the entire time!! This is a kid that has struggled in education for a long time. She is a fighter. And will pick a fight just for the sake of picking a fight. I’m so happy! This model really works.

NED : Thanks for sharing…. no need to stopthere…. now that you have her attention you can help grow her working memory, her motivationand her sense ofwellbeing and efficacy.

Next step with this student–find another student (possiblelower grade)who is struggling like her…and have her teach this new kid about thesetwoconcepts.

  • The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is designed to find what we tell it to focus on. For instance, if I say I’m no good at math - my RAS will find evidence all day long to convince me I’m right. The converse is also true - if I say I can do this - my RAS will find evidence of my success all day, every day.Easy example:Notice, when you decide to buy a new car and you imagine a red jeep. Suddenly, you see red jeeps everywhere – as if they were following you.Red Jeeps were always in your surroundings but you never noticed. Now, since you are considering a red jeep, your RAS is primed to look for red jeeps and bring them to your attention.
  • Amygdala Hijack. The amygdala, which is no bigger than an almond is like a gating factor or filter for your brain. Depending on the state of activation that the amygdala is in, it will decide where information coming into the brain goes. You want new information to go to your center of executive function– the Prefrontal Cortex – where you can make good decisions about the new information. But if the amygdala is hyperactive, this new information will be sent – not up to the PFC – but down to the lower reactive brain. Here the only choices I have are Flight, Fight, or Freeze. This lower order “Reactive” brain is the ‘go to’ response (hyperactive amygdala)when I am stressed, sad, angry, miserable, ashamed and so on (it is the 80% response).

The important thing to remember is this – knowingbraininformation like thismeans that we are in control of our intentions, our actions, and our reactions. Basically, we can decide if we are going to be reactive or have fun, tolerance, learn, be friendly and so on.

When the student (i)understands this and (ii)teaches it to another student - she will experience cognitive rehearsal about this concept of self-regulation and consequently begin to myelinate the PFC in areas that are healthy and meaningful for her personal growth.