OHSU recently hosted a Brain Awareness Teacher Workshop, called The Brain in the Classroom. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much information that was directly applicable to the classroom. Fortunately, I learned one thing that is directly applicable to my personal and professional life.
Dr. Gary Wenk, keynote speaker, said “Your ability to learn declines throughout the day as your acetylcholine* levels decline.” In other words, the first thing you do should be to “lay tracks to accomplish your goals.”
School starts at 8 am, and students don’t arrive until 9 am. 1 hour. This hour is often filled with IEP or staff meetings, but some days I have 1 free hour to get things done.
Armed with my new brain info, I did something about it. I made a new rule for the 1st hour of my day at work:
No email before 9 am.
I could check my email to see who confirmed next week’s meeting, or check that the testing specialist got my fax, or return a parent’s email. All these things are important and need to be done, but during that 1st hour I need to focus on the kids. I need to spend time planning for today’s lesson, or connect in-person with a teacher about a student, or work with my instructional assistant to plan the instructional groups she teaches.
How are you using your freshest hour of the day?
*You’ll have to google it if you want more info, but the slides from the workshop say that acetylcholine neurons control diverse functions in the brain related to attention and memory. Acetyl is made from sugar in your diet, choline comes from many common foods in the diet.
Update 2/17/12: You can OHSU Wenk Jan 2012, or you can watch the actual workshop (or prior workshops) here!