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ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

The Impact of Brain Compatible Learning 4. In what ways does the building principal impact the facilitation of BCL philosophy in the facility design and teacher practice? Both teachers and principals referenced the important role school leadership has played in maintaining the goals and philosophy of the school over the years. Building a learning community where students, parents, teachers, staff, and leadership are supported was a consistent teacher response in all three schools. As one teacher from Have-It-All Elementary said, “Everyone is encouraged to do their best, be their best and to help each other meet their potential.” This philosophy has been emphasized by the principal at Have-It-All Elementary School since opening day 15 years ago. The importance of consistency in philosophy was noted during informal conversations with teachers, parent mentors, and teaching staff. Teachers at International-With-A-Facelift Elementary stated that BCL has been successful in their school due to strong leadership over the years (2002-2011). Extraordinary leadership provided by principals and team leaders has encouraged teachers to embrace the tenets of brain compatible learning over the years. As one teacher put it, “Strong principals challenged our teachers to think about learning in new and exciting ways. Looking at our achievement scores over the past 3 years shows continued growth in student achievement.” Teachers at International-With-A-Facelift Elementary expressed their fondness of staff development meetings. As one 4th grade teacher said, “We study child development and the developing mind. We are asked to apply this knowledge in our teaching.” Another teacher said, “Our faculty meetings are mainly staff development meetings. Most of time, they are interesting. We all take turns planning topics and book studies.” During faculty meetings, the researchers observed teachers discussing topics together, addressing issues, planning future professional development activities, and reviewing data on student performance. Bi-weekly activities included, Chalk Talks. This activity allows teachers who are interested in similar topics to come together and discuss what has been successful in their classrooms. Staff development activities are often held in lieu of faculty meetings. Teachers at the other two elementary schools in the study shared similar positive reflections regarding the importance of leadership in sustaining the BCL philosophy through engaging staff development experiences. In comparing observations and interview notes, Over-The- Hill Elementary appears to be at the beginning stages of exploring how it can incorporate effective BCL learning strategies into its curriculum. Several teachers credited their school leaders for training and encouraging teachers to study how the brain learns. Similar to International-With-A-Facelift Elementary, the principal at Over-The-Hill is encouraging more teacher involvement in learning and applying BCL. Professional development topics and book studies focus on BCL. Teachers share teaching strategies that are working at faculty meetings. One teacher shared, “Thanks to our principal, our meetings faculty meetings are not a waste of time! We share a strategy or what we learned at a conference or work shop.” Grant funding provided the teachers with workshops and staff development in BCL. Several teachers at Over-The-Hill said they attended training in BCL theory and practice and seemed to be enthusiastic about its application. Teachers were observed providing student’s opportunities to move about their classrooms and to stay hydrated. Water bottles for hydration were readily available to students in many of the classrooms. December 2012 / ACEF 52


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
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