Did you know that nearly 35 million children in the United States have experienced enough adversity to potentially rewire the brain?
Educators play a major role in the recovery from trauma. We can help repair this damage.
It’s not hard work, it’s heart work!
One-Hour Online Training
Bright is a complete trauma-sensitive school upgrade package. All staff and faculty benefit from completing the one-hour online training that explains the neurobiology of learning and teaches self-regulation skills. Educators need to understand how pervasive adverse childhood experiences are in the United States. Equally important is understanding the neurological damage these events can cause. Neuroscience-based lessons provide staff and faculty a quick overview of the essential brain science behind childhood trauma and the importance of self-regulation. The training keeps busy educators in mind and includes abridged expert testimony and Instructor Knapp’s quick explanation of practical, and essential, ways that schools can become trauma-informed.
Bright Aligns with Safe Supportive Learning Environment’s trauma-informed framework.
Here is complete trauma-informed online training series. California’s Free Trauma-Informed Online Professional Development training.
Here is my Neurobiology of Learning staff beta training: Click Here.
Here is a free mental wellness series by Everfi that could support implementation of Bright: Click Here. This an option for schools that want to incorporate a broader basic mental wellness curriculum into all-school programming. For a complete mental wellness series, I recommend: Mental Wellness resource for 8-12 grade curriculum by EverFi.
Here is a free emotional regulation tool for Educators Calm Schools App. Educators can play Calm’s guided meditations on classroom audio systems to support integration of self-regulation.
Bright is designed to teach trauma-sensitive practices and build a school wide trauma-informed culture.
Using Biofeedback to Teach Self-Regulation
The Bright Online training can be followed up with an in-person demonstration of the Bright Mobile Application, which delivers individualized self-regulation toolkits and biofeedback monitoring to build awareness and assist in practicing self-regulation. School nurses, counselor’s, psychologists, behavioral specialists, including special education, are encouraged to use Bright in one-on-one and small group settings to establish a regular practice of self-regulation with those who need it the most. Bright curriculum supported by the wearable biofeedback monitor can also be incorporated into STEM courses to increase understanding of our stress response systems. Understanding the neurobiology of stress can help the broader school ecosystem create internal support structures inside schools, such as ‘Bright Spaces,’ emotional safety spaces where students are encouraged to take brain breaks and or practice self-regulation. Bright supports healthy relationship, happy spaces, and calm hearts and minds. Be Bright!
Bright is currently being pilot tested in two schools in 2019.
Here is my How-To Use Bright Staff Training Manual:
Brain Friendly Sequence Step One Transitioning
Transitioning into a learning mindset doesn’t take long. Playing music in the first five minutes of class sets up students for success. Focus on core breathing and only the present moment. Take an accounting of any tension in the body. Release that tension through gentle movement or stretching.
Some days slow music works, but other days fun, upbeat music may be better. Some days you may want to introduce movement, move the furniture into circles for group time. Other days you may opt for other self-regulation strategies, like goal setting, affirmations and planning. For example, have students work on daily planners in the first few minutes of class. Ask them to label the week’s due dates with emojis that describe the feelings associated with each the class assignments. Provide colored pens for students to draw the emojis individually. Follow this up with a peer discussion. Sensory inputs, including kinesthetic tasks—drawing, stretching, moving furniture—activate the five senses. Couple this with music and/or casual peer-to-peer conversation, and the brain stem (lizard brain) interprets the situation as safe. Regular sensory inputs at the beginning of class can train the lizard to relax and help kids transition from their hectic lives outside the classroom.
Self-regulation strategies like these should be a regular class pattern, not a surprising change. The first few times may seem unfamiliar but the pattern of consistent grounding music and or movement will become reassuring.
Create an oasis in your classroom. This opening activity can also provide time for one-on-one teacher check-ins, homework submission/review, or students can use this time to review the posted agenda.
Grounding Music Playlist
Five minutes or less…slow
Elegy for the Arctic by Euinadi
Five minutes or less…fast
Run Across Desert Sands Steve Stevens
Just Fine by Mary J. Blige
A longer playlist…
Brain Friendly Sequence Step Two Social Engagement
Follow up this individual transition/grounding time with a peer-to-peer activity time.
- Review/discussing homework problems
- Discussion of a prompt or problem solving scenario
- Planning for a project
- Brainstorming new ideas
- Following up on a team project
- Collaborative small group work time
KEY INSIGHT. This pattern should be consistent in the class. Individual reflection, grounding, movement and music in Step One, should be followed by peer-to-peer interaction, ideally, in pair share or small groups should be Step Two.
Brain Friendly Sequence Step Three
This pattern of conscious self-regulation (and regulatory skill building) followed by social interaction prepares the brain for learning. Once these two steps are complete, learners will be ready to intake new information. Ideally, new information should be introduced via micro-lectures (less than 10 minutes) and followed by applied, practice time.
Brain Friendly Sequence Step Four
Repeat as needed. Everyone needs a Brain Break. Make sure to repeat this pattern in longer classes.
Summing up the Brain Friendly Sequence
Set up your lesson plans using this pattern. 1) Movement (or sensory stimulation), 2) Relationship building (social interaction and collaboration), 3) New information followed by applied learning.
Patterned, repetition is key to brain-friendly environments. Although this pattern may seem unfamiliar at first, it is essential to keep this repetition intact. One way to ensure the sequence stays consistent is to make sure steps one and two don’t extend too long. Keep these segments timed, so that you can get to the step three—cognition— in time to allow for the application of the material, the practice, inside the classroom. This can be as simple as asking students to start their homework individually while you offer support as needed.
When you feel stressed—practice your own mindfulness technics as needed. Share your experience with the class. Modeling safe coping strategies builds resilience into the classroom and opens up the learners to start connecting their own behaviors with their emotions.
Create Brain Science Poster
Create a collaborative Brain Science poster that defines one of the following these key terms and present to the class.
- Fight or Flight Response
- Autonomic Nervous System
- Limbic System
Give students a week to work on this project. Align with research standards.
Read and Discuss Activity
Read and discuss the following article. Have groups conduct a poll using the categories in the article. For example, how many hours of sleep do you get a night?
This project takes place over multiple class sessions (at least 5) and coincides with self-regulatory practice.