Understanding the Brain for Teaching and Learning

Posted on: Tue, 02/26/2019 - 09:00

Guest blogger Meg Lee, supervisor of Advanced Academics, is a valuable member of the FCPS team. She is a passionate leader who has inspired our district’s work with a “growth mindset” and has been integral in developing a partnership described below that will impact students across the county.

As I approach my 25th year as an educator, I find myself spending a great deal of time thinking about the many ways our schools and classrooms have evolved and changed over that period. We could not have imagined many of the realities of today’s classrooms. We didn’t have classroom computers then. Today, students can take a virtual field trip to the Louvre in Paris to view exhibits from their own Chromebooks. We planned lessons with the teacher across the hall, but today teachers can collaborate on building a shared unit across the county, across the state, or on the other side of the world.

What will education look like 25 years from now? In 2044, there are sure to be innovations we can’t even fathom now, but one reality will remain: each and every child will bring a learning brain to school each day. Of all the investments we can make in ensuring that we are responsive and ready to meet the needs of our learners, today and in the future, none is more sound than making sure that we know the best ways to help those brains learn, grow, and thrive.

We are the first generation to understand how the brain works, as evidenced by exciting fMRI images and the work of cognitive neuroscientists, but how has teaching changed as a result? Do educators know the conditions under which the brain learns best? Do they know how to harness the power of specific strategies to accelerate learning? How will we use the science of learning to inform our practices and ensure that we are providing instruction tailored to the way the brain learns best?

FCPS is addressing these questions by taking the lead among public school districts who are examining instructional practices through a research-informed lens. Through an innovative partnership with the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning (CTTL), FCPS teachers and leaders are engaged in powerful learning experiences that help us to learn more about the science of learning and how it can help us to close achievement gaps and support the growth of all children. Based at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, the CTTL is involved in international work in Mind, Brain, and Education science, and partnering with them has allowed FCPS to learn from researchers from all over the world.

The last 25 years have flown by. With its innovations and challenges, 2044 will be here before we know it. FCPS is taking steps today to be research-informed and ready to navigate the next frontier in education by making sure that we keep the learning brain at the heart of our work. That makes me very #FCPSproud!

Do you see the science of learning at work in our public schools? Share your observations on Twitter @FCPSMDSuper. And if you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on Facebook or Twitter.