4 Instructors X 20 Years = 80 BrainWise Teaching Years

Posted On: August 27, 2023

Ask award-winning kindergarten teachers Wendy Cameron and Judy Cardenas, school social worker Barb Lamana, and special needs teacher Tracy Dodd to share their experiences teaching BrainWise and they will smile: They have a combined eighty years plus of stories from which to choose!

Their contributions to BrainWise and the BrainWise for Grades K-5 curriculum are legendary. They contribute teaching ideas and tools, participate in evaluation research, mentor student teachers and social work interns, and tirelessly promote BrainWise.

They integrate BrainWise into the revolving SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) programs offered in schools by tying in neuroscience of the brain, Wizard Brain thinking, and building brain connections into problems inside and outside the classroom. Their mastery of the materials helps students understand that learning thinking skills helps them make good choices and control what they say and do. They are leaders who know how to teach the 10 Wise Ways to children of all abilities.

Here are some of their contributions:

BrainWise Helped Kindergartners Cope with Columbine High School Shootings. On April 20, 1999, Wendy’s kindergartners had been learning BrainWise for eight months when news spread of the massacre of students at a Columbine high school — ten miles away from their school. Teachers were told to do whatever they could to comfort students and Wendy had them discuss the news using their BrainWise skills. She said she still gets goosebumps when she thinks about the situation and how BrainWise gave her vocabulary and concepts to help her class process the frightening and tragic events.

She asked the children questions about what they had heard, and they talked about the shooters as “using their Lizard Brains” and “not getting help from their Constellation of Support.” She said the children were not frightened and understood it was important to “stop and think” about what had happened. A parent later thanked her and said her kindergartner was not upset compared to his older siblings who had not learned BrainWise.

Spanish-speaking Parents Learn BrainWise. Judy not only teaches BrainWise to her kindergarten class, but she also uses her bilingual skills to translate BrainWise materials into Spanish and teach BrainWise to Spanish-speaking parents. The following story is about about her experience teaching BrainWise to parents whose children were learning BrainWise in school. The afterschool project was sponsored by BrainWise in partnership with the Denver Mile High Rotary Club.Judy Cardenas Teaching Parents

Every week during the school year, Judy taught BrainWise to parents while Rotarians assisted her with the sessions, served pizza to participating families, and led BrainWise reinforcement activities for their school-age children.

Judy started each class by asking parents, in Spanish, to give examples about how they used BrainWise at home during the week. The fifth week, after they had learned about the Emotions Elevator and ways to exit it, the parents shared examples that included controlling their anger and managing their emotions. Judy translated the examples into English for me and other Rotarians. The discussion included statements that revealed parents had shifted from punishing their children, saying that instead of reacting without thinking, they had controlled their emotions when they were upset with the child. This revelation was priceless.

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