Educator Uses BrainWise to Serve OthersPosted On: October 23, 2022
I can’t remember how I learned about BrainWise, but I have been teaching it to young people in schools and court programs since 2007. I work with youth who have physical, emotional, mental, or learning disabilities and serve students experiencing various other life challenges. I also help teachers and parents build relationships with youth.
The Wise Ways help me explain to them how they can use their brain to control their emotions. Talking about the amygdala, thalamus, and prefrontal cortex captures their attention and they listen. I show them how to use their brain to stop and think. They learn they are not alone and how thinking skills help them with problems. I constantly practice the concepts with them and encourage them to teach the Wise Ways to others.
We need BrainWise more than ever! I contacted Dr. Pat because I wanted to check in and touch base. I told her I appreciated the article on the “helpful” and “harmful” lizard brain. I said that students are returning to class and the consequences of COVID have caused them to miss many developmental milestones. They come to school high on their Emotions’ Elevators with Lizards all over the place! Many have experienced trauma and are in survival mode.
I go to BrainWise because it gives me tools to help them understand and manage their problems. The Wizard Brain, Constellation of Support, Ask Questions, Consider Consequences and Set Goals are particularly helpful lessons. I show teachers how to use the Wise Ways by integrating them into their teaching materials. I advise them to use peer educators to teach and reinforce the lessons.
The 10 Wise Ways help kids of all abilities understand the material in other programs including CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) and MRT (Moral Reconation Therapy.) Reconation refers to the process of making conscious decisions.
BrainWise ties the skills together and helps kids see how they can control their behaviors. Reinforcement helps imbed the Wise Ways in their long-term memory, so we have lots of practice that includes teachers and parents.
ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES.
Schools have “Zero Tolerance” and other policies that offer no restorative practice. When kids are expelled, sometimes for a year, they have nothing. The streets call them, “Come on, come on, I’ll take you.” And when the streets are done, the youth will be tried by twelve people (in court) or carried out by six (funeral.) That’s the reality of Zero Tolerance policy in schools. Even if kids return to school, they are labeled by their past mistakes. It is a tragic system.
I can’t change these policies, but I can help kids make better decisions. The Wise Ways have helped save lives. A kid may have seconds to make a life-or-death choice and BrainWise helps them regulate their emotions so they stop and think. I use the example of running from the police as a Lizard Brain reaction. Using their Wizard Brain helps them run through the consequences now, later, and affecting others.
Common sense is gone, and parents need to teach thinking skills and talk with their kids. I help families set goals. I tell parents that if everyone is on their cell phone at meals, they are not communicating with each other. I encourage parents and kids to talk about problems and ask questions. Later, they tell me how their kids talk about lowering their Emotions Elevators when they are angry and share examples that include a teen who asked questions before jumping into an unfamiliar car. He did not go, and later found out that the others, including his friends, were arrested for a crime.
BrainWise lessons are fun to teach! I am rewarded when I see kids using the skills and changing their behaviors. Many students keep in touch with me, and I have been invited to their family events, including baby showers. I have BrainWise posters on my wall – they are a constant reminder that kids aren’t alone, and that they have resources to help them.
The three words I would use to describe BrainWise are:
I appreciate having BrainWise because it helps me serve others!