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December 22, 2017 at 7:51 pm #81901AnonymousInactive
Over 20 years ago when I completed masters level training in neurolinguistics programming, I asked my mentor and trainer in NLP, “What’s next? Do I go on and become an NLP trainer?”
“No,” Dr. E. Gene Rooney replied. He encouraged me to go to San Diego and meet Eric Jensen. And that changed the course of my life as well as the quality, for the better.
Aha! moments began in earnest and in Ernest! At first, I was overwhelmed by the polysyllabic, seemingly esoteric language of the brain architecture and its functions. And I was hooked by the implications and interrelatedness among the brain, poverty, and trauma.
I chose to try on my newly acquired learnings in an inner-city school where students were remanded by the courts for serious and sometimes violent behaviors. My reasoning was I wanted to see if this stuff would really work on the toughest of students in the roughest of situations. My wife and family were incredulous at my choice giving the many schools I passed on the way to work with less pathological enrollments.
As I begin to implement my novice, seemingly primitive learnings, students began to respond. My principal began to send me the students he thought could benefit and graduate with the implementation of brain based learning skills and strategies in their curricula. And they did!
After two years and some help from a network of people, I created a non-profit, traveling the country and parts of the world teaching with the help of brain based learning and advanced listening skills. In Siberia after a three-year program to launch a theological school for pastors who had no formal training, the students reported the highlight of their experiences came from the first year when I showed up with brain based learning skills as I taught them hermeneutics. That’s what they remembered, practiced and anticipated as the integrated the skills and practices in their learning experiences.
Six years of professional development leadership in a large urban school district solidified my practice of brain based learning. During that time, I learned how poverty often negatively impacts learning. When that PD department was dismantled, I chose to go to the most challenging high school in the district, on the verge of being closed and taken over by the State, to once again try to check out if what I had been taught about the learning brain was true. The answer was yes as we implemented brain friendly learning in the classroom of low SES students and in the special education program.
During that time, I took another step in my journey by adding adverse childhood experiences to the mix—trauma and toxic stress and their impact on learning. And the ahas! continued.
I had accumulated extensive files of BBL material, the impact of poverty, and now trauma, on learning. I had been exposed to many bullet points and sound bites of research data. One of them that stands out today is hypervigilance. I had learned about how children from poverty and trauma were often on high alert within their bodies, expecting, and trying to be prepared for the next assault on their being and welfare.
Just the other day, my daughter sent me an article on early research into the relationship between hypervigilance and fibromyalgia, of which both she and her mother suffered. The lights, bells, and whistles of multiple aha! moments went off. From my study of trauma and toxic stress I was acquainted with hypervigilance. I had even discovered that toxic stress has been implicated in the uptick of autoimmune disease through the neglect and abuse of America’s children over the last 30-40 years. And now it really came home to me as I realized why my wife could not handle the pain from water hitting her body in a shower, how my daughter struggled with bright lights and loud noises. Not to mention the many moments of extrapolation to catastrophe and being disappointed as a lifestyle so that real disappointment could never catch up with you.
The journey has come full circle. I have learned about brain based learning, poverty, trauma and their impact on learning. I have seen the benefits of implementing best practice strategies in the classroom. I have developed and launched a certification program in trauma informed leadership. For that I remain grateful…and according to research, gratitude and joy are good things!
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