How many 14 year olds will bounce into class on that first day, filled with expectations that somebody will be there to help them meet their optimistic expectations? Research shows that hope exists within more areas of the human brain than once recognized, so it only makes sense to ignite hope that comes to class that first day in secondary students.
In his book, The Anatomy of Hope, Dr. Jerome Groopman shows how desire and expectation hold compelling influences on people’s health and wellbeing. Will your first day of class motivate or crush fragile expectations?
Hope brings reality into sharp focus. (Jerome Groopman)
Like eagles beat the winds of the upper air, hope elevates young minds over panic, past anxiety, and beyond fears that fuel too many events in their sometimes turbulent lives.
In spite of dreadful learning experiences for some youth, hope increases thickness in the cerebral cortex, especially in areas of attention and sensation. Reconnect neurons of well-being, in that first week of class and you’ll add to the number of support cells in that domain, and expand blood vessels for hope during an entire term. ( http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/serotonin/expect-neuron-pathways-to-solutions/ )
First day tasks can stir hope
1. Play classical music softly as they enter class. Musical intelligence increases sensitivity of the brain stem to the sounds and directions of wonder that follow.
2. Invite students to move, build, and handle objects skillfully. Movement intelligence stokes hope through increasing neurons in their hippocampus – where they call up trusted facts to improve their brain’s executive functions. Movement boosts moods and enables them to plan and organize far better results.
3.Teach teens to speak up and feel heard. Linguistic intelligence compels teens to question and to live insights experts write or speak concerning hope.
4. Guide learners to interview highly respected leaders. Interpersonal intelligence inspires youth to spend time with and learn from those who express hopeful ways to live.
5. Invite students to demonstrate a symbol from nature that illustrates a strength they hope to use in class. Naturalistic intelligence draws out hope in human brains, through its many rejuvenated colors and textures.
6. Help teens reach beyond a learning challenge for a tool they can use to win. Their brains come equipped with mathematical intelligence to discover hopeful solutions for problems they face.
Where will hope reside in your back to school story? More importantly, how will hope light new student pathways for the coming term?
Ellen Weber is a whole brain curriculum specialist at secondary and higher education. She works in secondary and college learning renewal where she has won awards internationally for her practical brain based Mita model to engage both sides of students’ brains.