Seattle Course #1 -How Emotion Impacts the Brain’s Successful Learning

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Wednesday- March 7, 2018      8:00am-4:00pm

Course #1 -How Emotion Impacts the Brain’s Successful Learning, What to Do About It & How to Build Powerful Executive Function 

by Dr. Judy Willis, MD, MEd, Board-Certified Neurologist- Santa Barbara, CA

About the Speaker

Judy Willis, MD, MEd, a board-certified neurologist combined her 15 years as a practicing neurologist with ten subsequent years as a classroom teacher to become a leading authority in the neuroscience of learning. With her unique background both in neuroscience and education, she has written seven books and more than 100 articles about applying neuroscience research to classroom teaching strategies. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa as the first woman graduate from Williams College, Willis attended UCLA School of Medicine where she was awarded her medical degree. She remained at UCLA and completed a medical residency and neurology residency, including chief residency. She practiced neurology for 15 years before returning to university to obtain her teaching credential and Master of Education degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She then taught in elementary and middle school for 10 years. Dr. Willis is on the adjunct faculty of the University of California Santa Barbara Graduate School of Education and travels nationally and internationally giving presentations, workshops, and consulting about learning and the brain. She has been interviewed by USA Today, Euronews, The Wall Street Journal, NBC News Education Nation, ABC Australia Radio, Lateline Australia, Popular Mechanics, Neurology Today, USA Today, Education Week, Medscope Neurology, and Parenting Magazine among others, and writes staff expert blogs for NBC News Education Nation, Edutopia, Psychology Today, and The Guardian. In 2011 she was selected by Edutopia as a “Big Thinker on Education.” Disclosures: Financial- Dr. Willis is self-employed and receives teaching and speaker fees. There are no nonfinancial relationships to disclose.

Target Audience (who should attend):  General Education Teachers, Special Education Teachers, Resource Room Teachers, Title 1 Teachers, Reading Specialists, School Psychologists, School Counselors, Behavior Specialists, Principals/Administrators, Case Managers, Social Workers, Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, ELL Teachers, Math Teachers, Coaches, Autism Specialists, Private Tutors, and Instructional Assistants and Paraprofessionals

Target Age Range: Pre-Kindergarten through 21 years

Course Description:  Stress can block successful attention focus, emotional self-management, and memory. It can also impair the sending of messages from the executive function control centers in the prefrontal cortex from directing higher cognitive functions and critical thinking. Neuroscience research has spotlighted stresses that cause students to “act out” or “zone out”. The most frequent stressors directly linked to classroom experiences are boredom (already mastered the information being taught to the class) or frustration from repeated goal failure in a topic or subject (with the goal ranging from not getting the desired A+ to not achieving satisfactory mastery). The research also reveals that these stresses, when recurrent, can change the brain’s neural networks and promote a “fixed mindset” with decreased effort and motivation. You will learn about the impact of emotions and stress on learning and about keys to unlock the stress blockade. You will understand how the “video game model” applies to teaching for motivation and perseverance through achievable challenge and helping students recognize incremental progress. You will leave with strategies to reduce the boredom and frustration that prevent the brain from working from its highest thinking and control centers. When you connect your own experience and insights with the neuroscience research correlations, students are the beneficiaries. As you guide them in building emotional self-control, persevering through challenge, understanding that mistakes are integral to learning, and recognizing their incremental progress, their growth mindset builds along with their behavioral and cognitive success.  Beyond providing best emotional environments and students’ skills of emotional self-management, students need to develop their other executive functions through guided experiences. The demands of the accelerated quantity of information incorporated into each grade level and the increasing temptations of immediate gratification from video games and social media, mean today’s students need their executive functions to be at top efficiency. The problem is, if left alone, these neural networks will not reach that efficiency until years after graduation. Correlations with neuroscience research provide insight into how these developing executive function networks can be strengthened by activation (use) when instruction includes opportunities for executive functions building from the earliest years of school through graduation. When instruction is planned with opportunities for executive functions, such as judgment, analysis, prioritizing, and reasoning, to be applied throughout the school years and across the curriculum, these neural networks in students’ brains become stronger (by neuroplasticity). Incorporating opportunities to use and activate these networks throughout learning will prepare students to reach their highest cognitive, social, and emotional potentials. You will come away with plans ready to put into action to activate these critical skill sets for all learners in all grade levels and subject areas. Students will increase strength of and access to the executive functions they need now and to respond successfully in the future to apply learning to solve new problems and to be the creative innovators of the

21st century they will inherit.

 What You Will Learn
Course Objectives– Participants will be able to:

• Adequately describe the impact of emotions and stress on learning and how to unlock the stress blockage
Adequately explain how the “video game model” applies to teaching for motivation and perseverance through achievable challenge
• Demonstrate how to help students recognize incremental progress
• Describe 4 strategies to reduce boredom and frustration that prevent the brain from working from its highest thinking and control centers
Design a plan to activate the critical executive function skillsets for their specific grade level and subject area
Describe how students’ increased strength of and access to executive functions will help them solve new problems and increase creativity