Page 46

ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

The Impact of Brain Compatible Learning the facility as a friendly, safe, pleasant environment. Wide halls have become additional learning spaces for small groups. Children’s artwork covers the halls and classroom walls. Every inch of space was observed to be utilized in this school. When the research team was learning the history of this school, the principal shared how the administration, not the community, pushed for the school remodeling to represent tenets of BCL. The entire faculty, through a series of workshops, was educated in the philosophy of brain compatible learning and the importance of creating an environment that is conducive to teaching and learning. Remodeling the facility to fit the philosophy included the addition of teacher workspaces for collaboration and professional development; redesigning the school entrance; and redirecting student traffic flow to the library, the focal point of the school. In keeping with BCL, more natural lighting sources were utilized in hallways and spaces for learning (Caine & Caine, 1990; Valiant, 1996). With hydration being an important part of BLC philosophy, easy access to water bottles and/or a water fountain are available to all students (Jensen, 2005). Like Have-It-All- Elementary School, International-With-A-Facelift Elementary focused on creating a variety of meeting areas and learning spaces to provide areas where teachers can collaborate in their work and students can engage in collaborative projects. When wondering through the classrooms, the research team observed teachers including music, in some cases candles, and soft desk lighting in the classroom. Since the building had extensive windows and natural lighting throughout the facility, florescent lighting was rarely used or non-existent within most of the building. When walking through the facility, students were observed working in hallways, in corners, on bean-bag chairs, or on couches in classrooms. The variety of languages spoken and cultures represented is acknowledged in newsletters to parents, and signs and labels in hallways and in classrooms. As one teacher said, “It is our job to celebrate cultural diversity here. We encourage our students to share customs they are familiar with from their home and native countries. It is a great opportunity to learn about customs and cultures different from our own. Our students and teachers learn so much from each other!” Over-The-Hill Elementary School. Over- The-Hill Elementary is a 36 year old school that was remodeled in 1999. Faculty input was not included in the modeling of the facility. As one researcher summarized, “This is a 1960s egg carton school design retrofitted to adapt to 21st Century needs!” Some of the tenets of BCL theory were considered, but economics and costs demanded a more scaled down version of the dream school. As reported by the principal, her wish to create more usable spaces and professional work areas for the teaching staff was all but shelved in the 1999 re-construction process. Over-the-Hill Elementary is half a mile from Have-It-All Elementary and has similar demographics and needs. However, due to an increasing need to offer more dual-language classes, Over-The-Hill Elementary has expanded its dual language program to meet the needs of its ever-increasing bi-lingual student population. This particular campus was a Pre-K to 2nd grade campus from 1997 to 2007. After 2007, a grade level was added each year until 2010. Redistricting created the need for the school to become a Pre K-5th grade campus. According to the principal, “Grade level additions haven’t affected the student population or create overcrowding.” Currently, Over-The- Hill Elementary has 658 students enrolled and serves mostly low socioeconomic from predominantly bi-lingual homes. The student population consists of approximately 13.7% African American (30.3% in 2002), 82% Hispanic/bilingual (63.7% in 2002), and 5% White & Other (5.8% in 2002). Ninety-three percent of the students are on free and reduced lunch compared to 80% in 2002 (Texas Education Agency, 2012). Increased December 2012 / ACEF 46


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
To see the actual publication please follow the link above