Every teacher would benefit from reading Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. John Medina’s book explains relevant neuroscience and offers ideas for applying the principles to real life.
Brain Rules would make a be a good choice for a professional development book club. Medina does an excellent job of explaining each of the Brain Rules, but experienced teachers can definitely expand on his ideas for applications to the classroom. You will be brimming with ideas after you read Brain Rules—why not get professional development credit for the brainstorm?
Reading Brain Rules inspired some changes (and gave me excellent justification) for some of my teaching techniques:
- Refer sleepy kids (and their parents) to research that explains why sleep is an essential part of the learning process.
- Encourage students to be active at recess—no walking or sitting around! To function at its best, the brain needs the body to move.
- Employ Medina’s attention technique: every ten minutes, tell a story or do something to re-engage the audience.
- Provide as many visual aids as possible, because vision trumps all other senses.
One of my favorite sections covered stress. Medina’s mother was a teacher, and he remembers her frustration when a child with troublesome home circumstances struggled more and more. Medina’s mother realized that the child faced so much stress that nothing the school did made much difference. A stressed brain can’t learn. I know teachers wish that administrators and politicians understood this.
John Medina’s Twelve Brain Rules:
SURVIVAL: The human brain evolved, too.
EXERCISE: Exercise boosts brain power.
SLEEP: Sleep well, think well.
STRESS: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
WIRING: Every brain is wired differently.
ATTENTION: We don’t pay attention to boring things.
MEMORY: Repeat to remember.
SENSORY INTEGRATION: Stimulate more of the senses.
VISION: Vision trumps all other senses.
MUSIC: Study or listen to boost cognition.
GENDER: Male and female brains are different.
EXPLORATION: We are powerful and natural explorers.
Medina created a Brain Rules website with many resources. It has illustrations, charts and video for each brain rule. Teachers of young children and new parents will enjoy Brain Rules for Baby. This book has its own section on the site.