How To Begin Whole Brain Teaching: 1

I spent most of last year battling with students and I felt like I was wasting my time.  No matter how interesting and creative I made my lesson plans I could not get them settled long enough to teach them anything.

It was a hopeless situation and I was on the brink of quitting many times.  Pushed to my limits, I lost my temper several times and, with it, any shred of respect from the kids.

So I went in search of a solution.

I found a methodology which I had never come across before but instantly recognised as something which would address my specific challenges.

I was excited but also apprehensive.   

The method does require the teacher to step out of their comfort zone and try something new and this is never easy.  Especially if there is a class that you really dread going into.  The thought of doing something a little risky is pretty daunting.  So I started with a class I felt was one of the better ones.  More open to having fun and going along with something new.  The effect was incredible!  Virtually 100% student engagement in the lesson and 100% of the lesson time spent on topic.

I could not wait to try it with another class.  The results were the same.

And in the worst of worst classes............... the results were even better!

 

So I will give a brief introduction to the first key steps but there is a lot more to it than this!

The first step is the attention grabber.  Whenever you say CLASS!  they must respond instantly with YES! and stop whatever they are doing and look at you.  It might not work perfectly the first time but as you work through the following steps it will get better and better.  One way to engage them is to add an element of fun.  So tell them that however you say CLASS they have to say YES in the same way.  Then try CLASS CLASS, and see if you get YES YES.  If not practice it again.  All the time they are getting used to doing exactly what you say, when and how you want them to.  Then try a very deep voice, or a high pitched ladies voice.  They will be smiling and giggling and so will you. 

Once they have that nailed you introduce the rules.   

There are 5 simple rules that cover pretty much any situation in a classroom.

Rule 1:  Follow directions quickly
Rule 2:  Raise your hand for permission to speak
Rule 3:  Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat
Rule 4:  Make smart choices
Rule 5:  Keep your dear teacher happy

Now the key to this approach is that each rule has a physical action to go with it.  The actions are fun to do and also help students remember what the rules are.  Matching gestures to key learning objectives is a central idea to the whole brain teaching method.

We all know that different students have different learning styles and that there are various types of memory.  So the ‘whole brain teaching’ method integrates a variety of ways to communicate information, which simultaneously activates a variety of brain areas, offers ample repetition and thus leads to longer lasting, better quality memories.

A key element is the amount of repetition.  Thinking back over all the classes I have taught in all the different settings I wonder how much I have really allowed students to repeat new material and really absorb what I have taught.  In my current school we have some much course material to get through that we have to cram as much information as possible into a lesson and move on, without giving students the proper opportunity to really learn it.

Once you have introduced the rules with the gestures/actions and repeated them several times, you are ready for TEACH-OK.

When ever you say TEACH they class must respond instantly with OK!  However you say TEACH they have to say OK in the same way.  Try two claps and TEACH and practise until you get every student replying with two claps and then OK!  They then turn to their neighbour and teach the rules to each other using the gestures.

 This creates a lot of noise and activity but there is nothing better than the sweet sound of kids on task, communicating with each other in English with big smiles on their faces!

 To be honest once I mastered it and I was able to integrate the techniques naturally into the flow of a lesson I was able to tone down some of the more extraverted (silly voice) elements.  However, in the beginning I think the more of a performance you can give the more dramatic the effect and the more the kids will be eating out of your hand.

Whole brain teaching incorporates:

1.  a  teaching technique which helps the learners acquire more information in a shorter space of time and with a deeper more long lasting memory imprint.

2.  a  classroom management technique which makes the kids actually enjoy following the rules! 

It is so simple and practical to use but there is also a huge amount of opportunity to progress to various more advanced levels.

It has been tested successfully by hundreds of thousands of teachers all over the world, and speaking from personal experience has saved at least one life!

I recommend you watch plenty of videos on youtube and read the e-books before you try it out because its important to know how to deal with various things that will come up while you use it, and it will be more successful long term for you and the students if you have done some research first.  The main website is www.wholebrainteaching.com.  Register as a user to access the free videos section, and a search for ‘whole brain teaching’ or ‘Chris Biffle’ on youtube for tons of videos.

I really hope this is useful and let me know if you decide to give it a try!

Part one:

In a middle school classroom, Chris Biffle demonstrates how to start Whole Brain Teaching (WBT). WBT videos, formerly known as Power Teaching, have received over 1,000,000 views on the Internet. 1000s of pages of free downloads are available at WholeBrainTeaching.com.

For information about a conference in your area, email Chris Biffle at CBiffle@AOL.com

                                   

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