For three full days, educators from our three schools did a deep dive into the latest research connecting brain science, technology, nature and learning. Attending the Learning & the Brain Conference in Boston, Shawn Brown (Seaport Academy Science Teacher), Dawn Crowe (Dearborn Academy High School Teacher), Mark Dix (Dearborn Academy High School Director), Stefanie Riegler (Dearborn Academy High School Teacher), Jenn Young (Lesley Ellis School Curriculum Director) and Sara Giffin (Lesley Ellis School Grade 3-4 Teacher) joined me and hundreds of other educators from around the world in exploring a series of important topics. Keynote speeches were given by leading research scientists (Marsha Lovett, Christian Jernstedt), educational visionaries (Marc Prensky, Will Richardson) and university professors (Yong Zhao, Sam Wang, John Ratey), among others.
Our group found the whole experience stimulating and appreciated the fact that representative faculty from each of our very diverse schools participated in the conference. Several shared what they had gained:
“Returning from the conference, I have a renewed appreciation for the active and creative learning experiences we provide at Lesley Ellis, and a fresh focus on the intentionality we, as educators, can bring to our work using evidence-based practice.” Jennifer Young
“One key concept that I took away from the Learning & the Brain conference was using what we know about developing brains to teach students not what to think, but HOW to think about new information. Teaching executive functioning skills is not about memorization of facts, but giving students the mental tools to organize and prioritize information, set goals, evaluate ideas, and think flexibly about a problem. Using what we learn from cognitive neuroscience, we give our students the necessary tools for a lifetime of success both in and out of the classroom.” Stefanie Riegler
“The Learning & the Brain conference renewed my passion for the importance of student-centered education. It made me think about the importance of motivating and engaging students by providing an environment and curriculum that they can really connect with. Student-centered education is about letting students take charge of their own education through exploration and critical thinking. It’s about collaborating with peers and teachers to make meaning out of what they are learning and exploring the deeper connections between what they are learning and how it applies to their lives.” Dawn Crowe
As we continue to roll out our collective vision under the banner of the National Institute for Student Centered Education (NISCE), we each found it inspiring to hear about new thinking around blended teaching, flipped classrooms, the role of neuroscience in building deeper learning and the ways to use art and nature for meaningful learning. Research around educating for global competence, mining the relationship between ‘common core’ and neuroscience, and promoting student-centered approaches in the classroom filled out the three days of new learning.
NISCE continues to build partnerships and connections between those committed to making sure that the variability reflected in how each and every student learns is being addressed by our nation’s teachers and in our schools. It was encouraging to be surrounded by educators from around the world who share that same priority.