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An Engaging Method To Promote Brain-Friendly Cultures

October 22, 2019 Jo Turner

Finding a leadership methodology which is supported by neuroscience is no easy task, and discovering the i4 Neuroleader Program has helped us further develop how to turn challenges into opportunities.

“Brain-friendly” isn’t just a buzz word, it’s how we should shape our organisations and personal interactions with others.

_hero-images-Practitioner-Story-An Engaging Method To Promote Brain-Friendly Cultures

It seems like I’ve always talked about neuroplasticity with our RTLB (Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour) team and have been searching for a course on neuroscience which offered content that: 

  • I could apply personally
  • was relevant to my role 
  • was engaging. 

I certainly found it!

I have always had a passion for neuroscience and its application to my job and its application to well, everything!

My manager brought i4 to my attention. She knows me well and thought it would appeal. Turning challenges into opportunities is a mantra for us, so the messages around living in a VUCA world resonate with our team. 

Education has been in a state of change and many of us struggle to adapt without being in a constant state of stress. We know about this but the ‘HOW’ is constantly being added to and most people on the team are open to evidence-based strategies to manage this more effectively.

I would have said our team has a ‘brain-friendly culture’ but realise now while being open to learning about the brain, mainly related to learning and behaviour, our application to how we operate as individuals on a personal level gives us opportunities for growth!

This obviously also impacts on our interactions within the team and in our wider community. 

Once I started engaging with the content I could see the relevance to my work. At first, I was just relieved the information I have been disseminating about the brain didn’t contain “neuro-bunk.” I found my collection of amassed information aligned perfectly with the obviously well researched course content.

Then, I got intrigued. The application to personal leadership became my focus. Up until now, I have focussed on the brain and how it is impacted by ‘perceived’ stressors. This is especially relevant to my role where I work alongside adults who are coping with challenging behaviours in schools.

The focus has been both on understanding why students behave as they do and the adults own wellbeing. Most of my work revolves around how to understand and respond, proactively rather than reactively, to challenging behaviour. I now have a framework to explore this further through personal leadership. 

I looked forward to engaging with the program especially after I discovered, to my delight, that it was short chunks of video with options to go more in depth via the links offered. This format was really conducive to me jumping in and out of the content. I usually got drawn in and spent longer than I had intended. I set aside time each morning when I was fresh to do this and felt I was getting good value for the investment of my time.

This is a great teaching practice, too. No long drawn out articles, but pithy engaging videos backed up by other content. Navigating the program was easy and it was great to see where I was up to. It was mostly intuitive and user friendly.

Education seems to be adopting the language and evolving knowledge of neuroscience more widely. It feels like we are on a wave that is building momentum and it is going to be an amazing ride. I look forward to the time when talking about the brain and learning is as normal as talking about muscles and physical education.

I include knowledge of the brain in most aspects of my work and especially in presentations to staff in schools. Making play dough brains is fun and almost everyone soaks it up and is engaged. Students I work with are fascinated, too. 

Understanding ‘neuroplasticity’ is empowering for their learning. Not to mention understanding how our brains handle emotions…important stuff to be aware of. 

It was a great opportunity to be exposed to a framework that has a universal application. This gave me a wider view and I am seeing connections to other aspects of my life. 

Jo Turner

I am at present setting up a Community of Practice around neuroscience. This is open to any of our RTLB team and also interested principals, management and teachers. The focus was going to be the implementation of the growing research-based understandings and strategies that apply to Education. However, I am now going to explore using the i4 Neuroleader Model to focus more on personal leadership and grow the COP from that perspective.

I notice when team members report back from Professional Development they have attended, ‘neuroscience’ features now quite often in the title.

I am going to be encouraging our team members to be ahead of the game and do the i4 Neuroleader Assessment. Again, the wider view will be empowering.

On a personal level, I received the results of my 360 assessment and read it with interest. However, it was only during the debrief with Silvia Damiano that the full impact of it hit me. 

I am looking forward to see ‘The Team Report’ for capturing how the ‘collective brain’ is operating. I am very grateful to my manager for bringing the ‘About my Brain Institute' to my attention. I’m engaged!!

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Jo Turner

Jo Turner

Jo is the Go To Person for Behaviour in Cluster 8. She is passionate about helping students and the adults who support them, to understand and teach the skills/strategies of self- management, executive function, emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. Challenging behaviour poses many dilemmas and can cause varying levels of anxiety in schools. Jo has experience and training in delivering Incredible Years for Teachers, UBRS (Understanding Behaviour Responding Safely), SWPB4L, Safe Crisis Management and MAPA. Another passion is the application of the growing body of knowledge of neuroscience to learning and behaviour. This is an exciting area she is curious to research and apply to RTLB work.

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